The Films of 2020: Horse Girl (dir by Jeff Baena)

Horse Girl tells the story of a lost woman named Sarah (played, in a bravely committed performance, by Alison Brie).

Sarah is an introvert who works in a craft store, where she can tell the customers exactly the right type of paint to buy and where she’s watched over by her friendly co-worker, Joan (Molly Shannon).  During the day, she occasionally visits the grave of her mother, who committed suicide.  Sometimes, she might have a conversation with her wealthy stepfather (Paul Reiser).  She enjoys going out to the stables and watching a horse named Willow.  When she was a little girl, she rode Willow and she still thinks of him as being her horse.  The owners of the stable, however, are never particularly enthused to see Sarah hanging around.  In one scene, Sarah attempts to give advice to the girl who was just riding Willow, despite the fact that the girl obviously has no idea who Sarah is.  Despite her good intentions, Sarah tends to be so awkward in her attempts to socialize that she just leaves people feeling uncomfortable.

When she’s not at work or at the stables or trying to fit in with the other students at her zumba class, Sarah lives in an apartment with her roommate, Nikki (Debby Ryan).  While Nikki has a boyfriend, Sarah spends most of her nights in her living room, watching a cheesy sci-fi adventure show called Purgatory.  She knows every detail about the show and is always shocked when no one else is as interested in it as she is.

In short, Sarah is a misft but she’s a familiar misfit.  We all probably know someone like Sarah.  At the very least, we all follow someone on twitter who is like Sarah, someone who always seems to be trying to make a connection but who can never quite get comfortable enough to just relax and be herself.

Strange things start to happen to Sarah.  She hears voices in the apartment.  She has dreams in which she’s lying on the floor of what appears to be a spaceship.  Sarah starts to sleepwalk and is soon waking up to find herself in random locations.  When she sees a picture of her grandmother, she wonders if it’s possible that she’s a clone.  Strange scratches start to appear on the walls of her apartment.  Did Sarah put them there or are they result of something coming after her?

Horse Girl is a surprisingly effective film, one that keeps you guessing as to whether or not what we’re seeing is really happening or if it’s all just occurring in Sarah’s head.  Horse Girl was produced by Duplass Brothers Productions and it really does feel like a mumblecore version of Repulsion, with Alison Brie stepping into Catherine Deneuve’s role of the repressed young woman who finds herself a prisoner of her own fears.  Whereas Repulsion featured arms growing out of the walls, Horse Girl features alien abductions and clones.

It’s a film that is sometimes heart-breaking and occasionally darkly funny.  As much as we care and worry about Sarah, the people around her are interesting as well.  The world that Horse Girl creates feels very real and very familiar and even the actors in the smallest roles create an indelible impression.  This is one of those rare movies where it actually seems like the characters in the film all have a life even when they’re not in a scene.  Every performance and every character feels real and authentic.  I particularly liked the performance of Molly Shannon, who brings a very natural and sincere kindness to the role of Sarah’s co-worker.  Playing Sarah’s father and Sarah’s gently humorous doctor, Paul Reiser and David Paymer shine in small roles.

That said, the film works best as a showcase for Alison Brie, who is both sympathetic and, eventually, more than a little frightening in the role of Sarah.  Brie gives such an emotionally vulnerable performance as Sarah that there are times when you really wish that you could step into the film yourself and assure her that everything’s going to be okay.  It’s also a rather brave performance, one that wins our sympathy while also showing why the increasingly manic Sarah might be too much for some people to take.

I have to admit that I wasn’t necessarily expecting much when I started watching a film called Horse Girl but it turned out to be one of my favorite films of 2020 so far.

The Films of 2020: Confessions of a Time Traveler: The Man From 3036 (dir by The Nostradamus Brothers)

The faux documentary Confessions of a Time Traveler opens with a series of news reports about a mysterious man named Sebastian who, upon being arrested for stealing food, claimed to be from the year 3036.  He also explained that he didn’t know what stealing was because, in 3036, no one uses money.  Not surprisingly, this makes national news because — well, it’s not like there’s anything else going on right now that journalist might be reporting on.  I mean, 2020 has been a pretty slow news year, right?

The authorities are perplexed to discover that there are no records of Sebastian’s life.  Up until the moment that he got arrested, he might as well have not even existed.  Sebastian says that’s because he hasn’t even been born yet.  Could he be telling the truth?

Confessions of a Time Traveler purports to be a series of interviews with Sebastian, who wears sun glasses, a mask, and a hoodie.  Sebastian doesn’t seem to be particularly enthused about being stuck in the 21st Century.  In fact, his attitude is rotten.  Well, you know what, buddy?  If you don’t like it here, go back to your own time!  Oh wait, you can’t.  We haven’t invited time travel yet and by the time we do, Sebastian will probably be dead.  Oh well, sucks to be him.

Sebastian talks a little bit about what life is like in the future and guess what?  None of it is good news.  Apparently, we’re all screwed.  Of course, I’m writing this in 2020 so it’s not like I’m going to be around in 3036 so at least I won’t have to deal with all of the radiation that Sebastian says has caused everyone to lose their hair.

Sebastian informs us that World War III will be between the U.S., Russia, the China, and EU.  (Though Sebastian doesn’t confirm it, I bet the EU was the first to surrender.)  He also says that there’s going to be a vaccine war and that billions will die when they refuse to take a vaccine.  People are going to end up living underneath cities, in abandoned tunnel systems.  They’ll be called beneathers and none of them will live past the age of 40.  Personally, if I was known as being a “beneather,” I would probably die of shame too.

One thing I’ve noticed about time travelers is that they never seem to bring good news.  I mean, seriously — how depressing is the future that every time traveler who visits our age just wants to talk about pollution and war all the time?  I think some of it is our fault for enabling them.  Instead of changing the topic by asking something like, “So, what movie won Best Picture in 3035?,” we’re always demanding information about everything that’s gone wrong with the world.  We’re gluttons for bad time travel news.  What I always wonder is how — with the world apparently in such shambles — people managed to discover the secrets of time travel in the first place.  It seems like that would take a lot of effort and some serious concentration.  Could you concentrate while living in a post-apocalyptic hellscape?

As for Confessions of a Time Traveler, it’s a 36-minute short film that comes to us disguised as a documentary.  Personally, I appreciated the efforts to which the film went to appear to be a legitimate documentary.  Much like Orson Welles convincing listeners that the Martians had landed, Confessions of a Time Traveler attempts to convince the gullible that Sebastian actually is from 3036.  I’m sure that there are some people who will watch Confessons and totally miss the fact that it’s not a real documentary and who will think that it’s an actual interview with someone who claims to be from 3036.  Let’s face it, some people are easily fooled and that’s a timeless truth.  Confession of a Time Traveler certainly understands this and it uses our curiosity and anxiety about the future to its own advantage.  After years of hearing about how society’s on the verge of collapsing, there’s something satisfying about watching something like this and discovering that society actually did collapse.  It’s like, “Finally!  We got something right!”

The film ends with the hint of a sequel or, at the very least, an expansion on the original short film.  I imagine that I’d probably watch a follow-up.  I mean, who knows what the future may hold, right?

Film Review: The Most Dangerous Game (dir by Irving Pichel and Ernest B. Schoedsack

On a jungle island Count Zaroff awaits.

Zaroff is a Russian nobleman and a hunting enthusiast.  However, he’s grown bored with hunting the usual big game trophies.  Those don’t provide enough of a challenge for him.  Instead, he prefers to hunt humans because humans are the most dangerous game.  Humans can think.  Humans are clever.  Humans are deadly.  When big game hunter Bob Rainsford washes up on the island after a shipwreck, he is discovered by Zaroff’s men.  Rainsford discovers that Zaroff is a fan of his work.  Rainsford also learns that Zaroff is planning to hunt him next.

It’s a tale that we’ve all heard, in one form or another.  Ever since Richard Connell’s original short story was published in 1924, The Most Dangerous Game has inspired a countless number of adaptations.  Some of those have been direct adaptations while others have merely been inspired by Connell’s plot but, in the end, they all have the same thing in common.  No animal is more dangerous than man.

As far as my research has revealed, the very first cinematic adaptation of The Most Dangerous Game came out in 1932.  It was produced by Ernest Schoedsack and Merian C. Cooper, the same team that would later be responsible for the original King Kong.  Joel McCrea played Rainsford while Zaroff is played by Leslie Banks.  In order to provide some romance and perhaps to pad out the film to over an hour, a few extra shipwreck survivors are added.  There’s two sailors who don’t last long.  There’s also Eve Trowbridge and her brother, Martin.  Eve and Martin are played by Fay Wray and Robert Armstrong, both of whom would star in King Kong.  Zaroff’s imposing servant, Ivan, is played by Noble Johnson who also appeared in King Kong.  Are you picking up on a theme here?’

Other than the addition of the extra characters, this film version is pretty faithful to its source material.  Again, we have Zaroff “rescuing” Rainsford and then having a long philosophical discussion with him before announcing that it is Rainsford who will be hunted.  Unsurprisingly, the film’s Rainsford is a bit more heroic than the one who appears in the short story.  The literary Rainsford looks forward to defeating Zaroff at his own game while the film’s Rainsford is more concerned with getting off the island and protecting Eve.

All in all, it’s an entertaining film.  Of course, by today’s standards, it’s a bit creaky.  I mean, the film is 88 year old.  Still, Joel McCrea remains a convincing and compelling hero while Leslie Banks is enjoyably hammy in the role of Zaroff.  Zaroff is a role that calls for an actor who is willing to give into his most theatrical impulses and Banks doesn’t let the film down.  The jungle scenery is properly shadowy and even the miniatures used during the shipwreck sequence have a charm all their own.

Unfortunately, The Most Dangerous Game is one of those films that has slipped into the public domain.  As a result, there’s a lot of less-than perfect versions floating around.  (The version that I recently watched on YouTube was so grainy that it was nearly unwatchable.)  Fortunately, this film is a part of the Criterion Collection.  That’s the one to add to your collection.

Lifetime Film Review: A Murder to Remember (dir by Robin Givens)

There’s been a murder.  Or has there?

Two people emerge from the wilderness, both with a story to tell.  Sam Turner (T.C. Matherne) lives in the backwoods.  He’s a country boy, right down to his accent and the gun that he carries with him.  He’s the type who can lead you to the best places to fish but he gives off a vibe that says that you don’t want to turn your back on him for too long.  Accompanying Sam is Robin (Maddie Nichols), a young woman who appears to be shell-shocked.  They’ve spent the last few days in the woods.  Sam claims that he’s been caring for and protecting Robin as they made their way back to civilization.  Robin …. well, Robin doesn’t quite seem to remember exactly what’s been going on.

What both Sam and Robin both agree on is that Robin’s husband, Javier (Kevin Rodriguez), is dead.  Javier and Robin were celebrating their first anniversary by going on a camping trip.  Javier was an experienced camper.  Robin was not.  When Sam approached them and offered to show them the best place to fish, they followed him deeper into the forest.  According to Sam, he accidentally took a wrong turn and got them lost but is he telling the truth?

Sam says that he accidentally shot Javier.  At first, Robin backs up his story but later she says that Sam actually murdered Javier in cold blood and then proceeded to brainwash the shocked Robin to such an extent that Robin couldn’t remember what was true.  Sheriff Watkins (Leslie Hendrix) is inclined to believe Robin over Sam.  However, things are complicated when the two of them each take a polygraph test.  Sam passes.  Robin does not.

So, is Sam telling the truth?  Sam may have passed the polygraph but he’s so obviously sleazy that it’s hard to believe that he didn’t intentionally kill Javier.  Was Robin in on the murder or is she suffering from the after effects of Stockholm Syndrome, the phenomena in which the victim of an abduction will come to trust and, at the times, even help their abductor?

Based on a true story, A Murder To Remember makes it pretty clear from the start who is to be trusted and who isn’t.  Sam is obviously guilty and Robin is obviously telling the truth but, for most of the movie, there’s no way to prove any of it.  Unfortunately, because the truth is so obvious, the film is never as suspenseful as it could be.  Instead of trying to figure out what actually happened, the viewer instead just waits for Sam to finally slip up.  It takes a while as this is a rather slow movie, especially by the usually quick paced standards of Lifetime.

The film is at its best when it’s in the wilderness.  The film does a good job of capturing just how frightening it can be to be lost when there’s no hint of civilization anywhere around.  Maddie Nichols does a great job of capturing the fear that any of us would feel in her situation.  She’s not even an experienced camper and now, suddenly, her husband is dead and she’s going to have to depend on her husband’s murderer to survive.  That would be enough to send anyone into a state of shock and Nichols effectively portrays the gradual process that leads to Robin remembering what actually happened to Javier.

A Murder To Remember was uneven but, if nothing else, it reminded me of why I don’t go camping.

Lifetime Film Review: Abducted On Air (dir by Philippe Gagnon)

Whenever I find myself in need of motivation, I remember the words of Britney Spears:

You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti?
You want a Maserati? You better work bitch
You want a Lamborghini? Sippin’ martinis?
Look hot in a bikini? You better work bitch
You wanna live fancy? Live in a big mansion?
Party in France?
You better work bitch, you better work bitch
You better work bitch, you better work bitch
Now get to work bitch!
Now get to work bitch!

As my fellow TSL writers can tell you, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t, at some point, shout out, “Get to work, bitch!”  And while that habit has occasionally gotten me a few strange looks around the office, it definitely works.  For instance, I didn’t know if I’d have the strength to write 24 film reviews in one day.  I didn’t even know if it was worth the trouble.  But I just thought to myself, “You better work, bitch!”

Unfortunately, that technique doesn’t work for everyone.  Abducted on Air is about Sasha Bruder (Kim Shaw), a television news reporter who wants to make it to the top without actually having to actually earn it through hard work.  Unfortunately, even though she has an on-air job at a local news station, it doesn’t seem like she’s heading anywhere.  Her boss, Gavin (Bruce Dinsmore), doesn’t respect her and lead anchor Diane Baldwin (Perry Reeves) is the one who gets all the attention.

But then, one day, Sasha does not come into work.  An investigation reveals that she was apparently abducted from the station and that her kidnapping was caught on video!  For days, Sasha and her disappearance dominates the news.  Where is Sasha Bruder and can she be rescued in time?

Of course, what the public doesn’t know is that Sasha set up her own kidnapping and is currently hanging out in a warehouse.  Even though she insists that her co-worker, lover, and collaborator, Aidan Ferguson (Gord Rand), actually blindfold her and tie her up, that’s just so she’ll be able to bring some authenticity to her story when she eventually resurfaces.

Eventually, Sasha does decide to leave the warehouse.  She emerges with a harrowing tale about how she was abducted and everything that she’s been through over the past couple of days.  Sasha becomes a celebrity and is promoted to co-anchor of the morning newscast.  Diane is not particularly happy about that but Gavin doesn’t care.  All Gavin cares about are ratings and Sasha’s bringing them in.

However, faking a kidnapping is not as easy as it may look.  When it looks like the truth about Sasha’s abduction might finally be revealed, Sasha has no choice but to take matters into her own hands….

I enjoyed Abducted On Air.  Admittedly, a lot of that had to do with the fact that I tend to distrust television journalism,  (In many ways, this was a film that seemed like it was specifically designed to appeal to my every bias.)  This is a film about people obsessively trying to climb to the top of one of the the most superficial professions in existence and the fact that everyone in the movie is so obsessed with finding success in a dying industry actually gave Abducted On Air a bit of a satirical edge.  Perrey Reeves and Kim Shaw both gave good performances as the two rival journalists, making this film a fun one to watch whenever you want to imagine what’s going on behind the scenes of your local news broadcast.

Lifetime Film Review: A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2 (dir by Colin Theys)

Look who’s back!

At the end of the 2017 Lifetime film, Stalker’s Prey, it appeared the psycho Bruce had been eaten by a shark.  Normally, that’s not a fate that I wish on anyone but Bruce ….. well, Bruce really was a psycho.  In fact, Bruce even fed several people to the sharks so it seemed kinda appropriate that a shark would eventually take him out.  Like a lot of Lifetime movie psychos, Bruce was also the obsessive type.  He was the type who would save your life (after, of course, arranging the accident that put you in danger in the first place) and then decide that you belonged to him.  Bleh.  Go, shark, go!

However, amazingly enough, Bruce apparently survived that shark attack.  A Predator’s Obsession finds Bruce — now known as Daniel and played by Houston Stevenson — working at a local marina.  He looks a bit different now, which I guess would make sense after everything that he’s been through.  He’s got a few scars from being attacked by that shark but he also has all of his limbs.  Most importantly, Bruce still loves sharks and they apparently love him.  I guess it makes sense, seeing as how he’s named after the shark that starred in Jaws.

When Bruce saves a child named Kevin (Brayson Goss) from a shark, the media proclaims him a hero.  Kevin’s family invites Bruce over for dinner.  When they find out that Bruce has just gotten kicked out of his apartment and doesn’t have anywhere to live, they open their house to him.  It’s supposed to only be a temporary thing but Bruce has no intentions of leaving.  Bruce has fallen for Kevin’s older sister, Alison (Julia Blanchard).  Despite the fact that her rich, no-good boyfriend, Carson (Jackson Dockery), is not happy about her living with another man, Alison tries to make Bruce comfortable.  She even sets Bruce up on a date with her fun-loving best friend, Rhiannon (Sarah Wisser).

(It wouldn’t be a Lifetime film without a fun-loving best friend!)

However, Bruce is only interested in Alison and you know what that means.  It’s time for Bruce to start feeding people to the sharks.  It’s kind of sad, really.  Bruce is handsome, charming, athletic, and he’s a good swimmer.  It seems like he should be able to get a date without having to resort to feeding people to sharks.  But I guess Bruce has his issues and, as a result, he never really got beyond the “feed my enemies to wild animals” stage of personal growth.

I absolutely loved Stalker’s Prey and I enjoyed the sequel as well.  The great thing about A Predator’s Obsession is that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all.  It fully embraces the shark-filled melodrama and the resulting action is just as over-the-top and joyfully outlandish as you could possibly hope for.  In the previous film, Bruce was content to just push people over the side of a boat.  In this film, he uses a crane to suspend someone over the water.  He traps another person in a cage.  The film understands that a good sequel has to be bigger than the original film and it’s so entertaining that I can’t wait for Stalker’s Prey 3.

I mean, with SyFy no longer showing original movies, there’s a whole lot of shark fans out there looking for a new home.  Go get ’em, Lifetime!

Lifetime Film Review: Deranged Granny (dir by Jennifer Liao)

Over the course of the last few years, Lifetime has been showing a lot of movies about psychotic grandmothers.

These movies usually follow the same pattern.  A woman, who is either divorced or widowed and who has at least two young children, meets a handsome man who doesn’t like to talk about his past.  After a whirlwind courtship, they get married.  Though it’s a struggle at first, the new blended family finally starts to come together.  Suddenly, the doorbell rings and …. IT’S GRANNY!

Where has grandma been?  Sometimes, she’s been in a mental hospital.  Sometimes, she’s been in jail.  Sometimes, she’s recently escaped from a retirement community.  The important thing is that she’s back and she’s suddenly ready to be a part of the family.  The kids lover her and her daughter-in-law feels threatened.  Everyone tells the new wife that she’s being paranoid and that grandma might be a little eccentric but she’s harmless.  However, the viewers know that the grandma is actually a psycho because we’ve seen her murder at least two people by the fourth commercial break.

The appeal of these films is pretty easy to understand.  It comes down to two things.

Number one, like many Lifetime films, it features a very universal fear at the heart of its melodrama.  Every parent worries about how they’re going to live up to (or, in some case, improve upon) the example of the grandparents.  Kids tend to love their grandparents, largely because they provide an escape from having to deal with mom and dad and all of their hangups about going to bed on time, not watching too much TV, and doing their homework.  The grandparents get all of the good parts of parenting without any of the bad parts, or so it seems.  Even more importantly, there’s always the fear that grandma is silently judging everything that her daughter-in-law is doing.  This is something that almost everyone can relate to.

Number two, these films always manage to find the best actresses to play grandma.  Usually, these are actresses who, because Hollywood is a terrible place, no longer seem to get the type of roles that they deserve.  In the tradition of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in almost every film they made after Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, these actresses usually give wonderfully over-the-top performances as the psycho grandma.

Wendie Malick is the latest actress to star as one of Lifetime’s psycho grandmas.  In Deranged Granny, she plays Barbara.  Barbara never really recovered from the death of her son’s first wife and her grandchild.  Now that Ethan (Josh Ventura) has remarried and has two stepchildren, Barbara is determined to be a part of their lives.  Unfortunately, Barbara’s new daughter-in-law, Kendall (Amanda Righetti), comes to feel that Barbara is trying to push her out of her family’s life.  Is Kendall being paranoid or is she correct in her suspicion that the main reason that Barbara is always cooking is because she’s obsessed with poisoning people?  You can probably guess the answer to that question by the fact that the movie is called Deranged Granny and not Deranged Daughter-in-Law.

Not surprisingly, the main reason to watch Deranged Granny is for the performance of Wendie Malick.  That we usually tend to associate Malick with comedic roles only makes it all the more effective when she suddenly starts poisoning everyone who looks at her the wrong way.  Even when she’s not specifically trying to kill people, Malick delivers all of her faux friendly lines with just the perfect amount of passive aggressive condescension.  What I especially liked about the film is that Barbara seemed to be having a lot of fun with her evil schemes.  She may have been the granny from Hell but she still came across like she would be the fun grandma as well.  Just don’t eat her cookies, especially if you have a food allergy.

Disgruntled Granny was a fun deranged grandma film.  Watch it the next time you feel like you’re being silently judged.

Gun Street (1961, directed by Edward L. Cahn)

During the closing days of the Old West (people ride horses and form posses but they also use hand-crank telephones), a notorious bank robber (played by Warren J. Kemmerling) escapes from prison.  Everyone fears that the outlaw is heading for his home town, where he’s sworn that he’s going to get revenge on all of the people who he blames for his imprisonment.  It’s up to Sheriff Chuck Morton (James Brown, not that James Brown) and Deputy Sam Freed (John Clarke) to alert all of the outlaw’s potential victims and to put together a posse to ride into the desert and hopefully end his reign of terror once and for all.  Complicating matters (though only slighly) is that the sheriff and the outlaw grew up together and used to be friends.

Yet another B-feature from the very active director Edward L. Cahn (he was credited with having directed 127 films, 11 in 1961 alone!), Gun Street plays out like a lesser episode of Gunsmoke.  Imagine High Noon, just without the red scare subtext and no Gary Cooper.  James Brown and John Clarke are both believable as western lawman and they have a good rapport.  Sandra Stone plays the outlaw’s sister, who now owns the local “dance hall” and, in her scenes with Brown, I thought it seemed as if the film was suggesting that she and the sheriff were once more than just friends.  Unfortunately, that’s one of many potentially intriguing subplots that the film suggests without bothering to explore.  Obviously made to be a second feature on a double bill, Gun Street is barely over an hour long, which doesn’t leave much time for anyone else in the film to make much of an impression.  The short running time also means that the film moves so quickly that certain plot points go unexplained.  Probably the most disappointing thing about Gun Street is that, after all of the build-up about how tough and dangerous this outlaw is, the film ends not with a bang but with an anti-climatic whimper.  Did they run out of money during filming?  Did Edward L. Cahn have to leave so he could go direct another film?  We may never know.

If you’re looking for a good western about one town awaiting the arrival of an outlaw, rewatch High Noon.

Lifetime Film Review: Poolboy Nightmare (dir by Rolfe Kanefsky)

After 10 minutes of watching Pool Boy Nightmare, I called Erin into the living room and I told her that, even though I don’t swim and I actually have a morbid fear of drowning, I felt we definitely needed to get a pool put into the backyard.

I mean, the film just made getting a pool look like such a brilliant idea.  Not only do you get an aesthetically pleasing addition to the exterior of your house but, once you get a pool, everyone suddenly wants to be your friend and, more importantly, they want to do stuff for you.  And, even though I don’t swim, I still enjoy going outside and pretending like I’m capable of getting a tan (I’m a redhead.  We burn but we don’t exactly tan) and I look cute in a  bikini so I could definitely get some use out of the pool while everyone else was splashing around.

Add to that, getting a pool apparently also meant getting a totally hunky pool boy, the type of guy who has a lot of tattoos and who has obviously just gotten out of prison so he’s got those hungry eyes going, if you know what I mean.

About an hour after watching the film, I called Erin back into the living room.  “We’re going to have to cancel getting the pool,” I told her.

“We weren’t getting one,” she told me.

“I don’t want it anymore.  Contact whoever you need to contact and tell them to rip up the contract because the pool’s been cancelled.”

“Uhmmm …. okay.”

Seriously, owning a pool is a lot of work!  Apparently, if you don’t keep it full of water, your best friend will show up in the middle of the night and and just walk right over the edge and end up breaking her leg.  Plus, if you put too much chlorine in the pool, someone could end up burning their skin and having to go to the hospital.  There’s also always the risk of a dead rat showing up in your filter.  And, of course, there’s the drowning risk.  It just seemed like too much.

Of course, in Poolboy Nightmare, the main problem with the pool was that Adam the pool boy (played by Tanner Zagarino) turned out to be a total psycho with a Norman Bates-style mother obsession.  Complicating things was that Adam ended up sleeping with Gale (Jessica Morris) and then dating Gale’s teenage daughter, Becca (Ellie Dacey-Alden)!  Gale knows that Adam is totally bad news but, if she tells Becca that, it’ll mean confessing that she slept with Becca’s boyfriend.  You can see how that might get awkward.

Anyway, Poolboy Nightmare is …. well, it’s alright.  It get a lot of entertaining mileage by playing into all of the stories that you hear about bored women in the suburbs who end up sleeping with their pool boy.  The film’s first third is fun, with its emphasis on Adam walking around shirtless and every woman in the house ogling him.  You almost expect to hear a 70s bassline on the soundtrack whenever anyone catches sight of him.  Once Adam goes psycho, the film becomes a standard stalker film where everyone is, unfortunately, required to do the stupidest thing possible.  Fortunately, there’s enough hints that the film is meant to be something of a parody that it remains entertaining until the final credits.

Seriously, though, don’t get a pool.  They’re dangerous.

Lifetime Film Review: Sinfidelity (dir by Tamar Halpern)

So, imagine that you’re living the life of Angela (Jade Tailor).

You’re married to a successful businessman.  You’ve got a nice house.  You’ve got attractive friends.  Really, you’ve got everything that most people are conditioned to want out of life.  And yet, you can’t shake your suspicion that something is not right.

Part of the problem is that your husband, Greg (Mark Jude Sullivan), has cheated in the past.  And even though he says that’s all in the past, it’s hard for you to trust him.  Your anniversary is approaching and Greg doesn’t appear to have made even the slightest of plans to celebrate it.  Instead, he’s spending all of his time at work.  Plus, you instinctively mistrust his assistant, Lisa (Caroline Cole).  Maybe you’re being silly but then again, deep down, you know that no one can resist someone named Lisa.

(That’s just the burden that we Lisas have to deal with.)

You notice that Lisa is wearing expensive earrings.  The next day, you find one of those earrings in your house.  You immediately decide that Greg and Lisa must be having an affair.

What do you do?  Do you file for divorce?  Do you change the locks and kick your husband out of the house?  Do you blow up his car?

Those are all good options but Angela decides that the best way to get back at Greg is to have an affair of her own.  She ends up hooking up with Franco (Aidan Bristow), a handsome photographer.  Angela does this despite the fact that Franco gives off obsessive stalker vibes from the minute that she meets him.  Then again, it’s not like Angela’s looking for a relationship.  Angela’s looking for revenge and you do strange things when you’re looking for revenge.  Still, I would have gotten out of Franco’s place as soon as I saw all of the pictures he had taken of a woman who superficially resembled me.  Franco claims that the pictures are of his sister, who died under mysterious circumstances years ago and …. yeah, it’s time to leave.

Still, Angela doesn’t leave.  She spends the night with Franco.  When she leaves the next morning and returns home to confront Greg, Grey can’t understand why she’s so upset.

“I know!” Angela says.

“About the trip to Italy?” Greg asks.

Yes, that’s right!  Greg was actually being a good husband.  He bought Angela earrings and a trip to Italy for their anniversary and he’s been working late to make sure that they would have enough money to afford it.  He had Lisa set up the trip and he also had her deliver the earrings.  Lisa thought it would be fun to wear the earrings before dropping them off which …. well, okay, that doesn’t make much sense but hey, whatever.  What’s important is that Greg is not cheating and that they’re going to Italy and their marriage is not in trouble!  Yay!

The only problem, of course, is that Angela’s already had a one night stand with Franco and Franco is not only obsessive but apparently a bit psychotic as well.  That means that Franco’s not just going to take no for an answer….

You can probably guess where all of this is heading.  This is a Lifetime film and any fan of Lifetime knows what happens when you get an obsessed stalker.  Sinfidelity doesn’t exactly break any new ground as far as Lifetime thrillers are concerned but Jade Tailor gives a good performance as Angela and the film opens with an genuinely creepy sequence that’s set at a roller disco.  Any film that features a roller disco is automatically going to be better than any film that doesn’t have a roller disco.  That’s always been my philosophy.

In the end, Sinfidelity has a worthwhile message.  Don’t cheat on your spouse unless you have all the facts first.  Otherwise, your act of revenge might lead to you getting stalked by a psycho photographer.  Seriously, the more you know, right?