The Things You Find On Netflix: Deadly Detention (dir by Blair Hayes)


If you’re in high school and you have to do Saturday detention in an abandoned, but perhaps haunted, prison, there’s a good chance that you’re gong to die.

That’s the main lesson that can picked up from the 2017 film Deadly Detention, which I watched via Netflix a few nights ago.  Old prison.  Sex.  Detention.  It all leads to death.  Of course, you really shouldn’t need a movie to teach you that lesson.  I mean, it’s just common sense.  STAY OUT OF THE OLD PRISONS, PEOPLE!  Especially if it’s got a death row because you just know there’s going to be a lot of pissed off ghosts floating around there….

The good thing about Deadly Detention is that it realizes that abandoned prison=death should be common sense as well.  It’s an extremely self-aware movie, fully indulging in all of the slasher movie cliches while, at the same time, poking cheerful fun at them.  Deadly Detention may start out as a horror film but, after about 15 minutes or so, it turns into a full-blown comedy and it’s actually pretty fun to watch.

Why are our students attending detention?  Well, it turns out that the majority of them have been framed, which explains why even the popular school athlete is being punished.  Why are they attending detention in a prison?  Well, it seems that a pack of rabid possums were somehow released into the school.  Now, of course, being the former country girl that I am, I immediately knew something strange was happening because possums are actually immune to rabies.  So, seriously, if you see a possum in your back yard, don’t panic!  They’re harmless.

Among those spending their Saturday in detention:

Officer Pete (Kevin Blake), the quiet hall cop,

Miss Presley (Gillian Vigman), the principal who brings her very big and very pointed principal-of-the-year trophy with her,

Lexie (Alex Frnka), the rebellious school tramp who turns out to be a lot more smarter than anyone gave her credit for,

Jessica (Sarah Davenport), the school athlete who has always been driven to be the best,

Barrett (Henry Zaga), the hilariously vain and shallow rich kid whose main hope is that, if he dies, he’ll still look good,

Kevin (Coy Stewart), the gay religious kid who turns out to actually have a lot more depth than anyone originally suspected,

and Taylor (Jennifer Robyn Jacobs), the cheerfully strange girl who knows all the stories about all the ghosts.

Now, you may be thinking that this cast of characters sounds familiar and it’s true that they’re all deliberately meant to invoke various slasher movie tropes.  At the same time, I suspect that they’re also meant to remind us of the members of The Breakfast Club as well.  However, each character is so well-cast and each actor seems to be having so much fun that they all soon develop their own individual identities.  In fact, this cast is so fun to watch that it’s kind of sad once the blood starts to spill.

But spill, it does.  Soon, the detainees find themselves having to figure out how to escape the prison while an unseen stalker taunts them over the intercom.  What sets this film apart from many other Netflix slasher films is that the students all seem to know that they’re in a horror film and they tend to comment on the action accordingly.  When it comes to a horror-comedy, a film always has to decide if it’s going to be more of a horror or a comedy and, early on, Deadly Detention embraces the comedy label and it turns out that the film made the right choice.  Thanks to a likable cast and some clever dialogue, Deadly Detention is an entertaining 90 minutes.

As I said, the entire cast is good but Alex Frnka, Coy Stewart, and Jennifer Robyn Jacobs especially deserve a lot of credit for taking characters who could have been cliches and instead turning them into fairly compelling human beings.  Alex Frnka not only gets all the best lines but she makes them even better with a delivery that’s perfectly perched between sincerity and snarkiness.  The same can be said of the film as a whole.

2016 in Review: The Best of Lifetime


Today, I continue my look back at the year 2016 with the best of Lifetime!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2016!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

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Best Picture
Bad Sister, produced by Robert Ballo, Timothy O. Johnson, Rukmani Jones, Ken Sanders
The Cheerleader Murders, produced by Sharon Bordas, Arthur Edmonds III, Hannah Pillemer, Fernando Szew, Jennifer Westin
Girl in the Box, produced by Stephen Kemp, Charles Tremayne, Thomas Vencelides
Inspired to Kill, produced by Johnson Chan, Michael Fiefer, Douglas Howell, Stephanie Rennie, Vincet Reppert, Nathan Schwab, Tammana Shah, Shawn Tira
Manson’s Lost Girls, produced by Nancy Bennett, Kyle A. Clark, Lawrence Ducceschi, Joan Harrison, Jonathan Koch, Stephen Kronish, Steven Michaels, Lina Wong
Mommy’s Little Girl, produced by Tom Berry, Steve Boisvert, Neil Bregman, Cinthia Burke, Christine Conradt, Curtis Crawford, Pierre David, Donald M. Osborne, Andrew E. Pecs
*A Mother’s Escape, produced by Sharon Bordas, Lori Bell Leahy, Michael Leahy, Kristofer McNeeley, Fernando Szew
My Sweet Audrina, produced by Dan Angel, David Calvert-Jones, Harvey Kahn, Kane Lee, Tom Mazza, Mike Rohl, Jane Startz
The Night Stalker, produced by Matthew R. Brady, Patrick G. Ingram, Michel Rangel, Alisa Tager
The Wrong Car, produced by Mark Donadio, Miriam Marcus, Molly Martin, Michael O’Neil

Best Director
Doug Campbell for Bad Sister
Megan Griffiths for The Night Stalker
*Blair Hayes for A Mother’s Escape
David Jackson for The Cheerleader Murders
Leslie Libman for Manson’s Lost Girls
Mike Rohl for My Sweet Audrina

Best Actress
*Tara Buck in A Mother’s Escape
India Eisley in My Sweet Audrina
MacKenzie Mauzy in Manson’s Lost Girls
Alyshia Ochse in Bad Sister
Karissa Lee Staples in Inspired To Kill
Addison Timlin in Girl in the Box

Best Actor
Zane Holtz in Girl in the Box
Lou Diamond Phillips in The Night Stalker
*Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor: The Return
Antonio Sabato, Jr in Inspired To Kill
Jason-Shane Scott in The Wrong Roommate
Jeff Ward in Manson’s Lost Girls

Best Supporting Actress
*Toni Atkins in My Sweet Audrina
Eden Brolin in Manson’s Lost Girls
Zoe De Grande Maison in Pregnant at 17
Beth Grant in A Mother’s Escape
Ryan Newman in Bad Sister
Zelda Williams in Girl in the Box

Best Supporting Actor
Blake Berris in Wrong Swipe
Rogan Christopher in Pregnant at 17
*Rhett Kidd in The Wrong Car
Christian Madsen in Manson’s Lost Girls
William McNamara in The Wrong Roommate
James Tupper in My Sweet Audrina

Best Screenplay
Bad Sister, Barbara Kymlicka
*The Cheerleader Murders, Matt Young
Girl in the Box, Stephen Kemp
Mommy’s Little Girl, Christine Conradt
A Mother’s Escape, Mike Bencivenga, Blair Hayes, Kristofer McNeeley
My Sweet Audrina, Scarlett Lacey

Best Cinematography
The Cheerleader Murders, Denis Maloney
Mommy’s Little Girl, Bill St. John
*A Mother’s Escape, Samuel Calvin
My Sweet Audrina, James Liston
The Night Stalker, Quyen Tran
The Wrong Car, Terrence Hayes

Best Costuming
Girl in the Box, Barb Cardoso, Tania Pedro
Manson’s Lost Girls, Dorothy Amos
*My Sweet Audrina, Farnaz Khaki-Sadigh
The Night Stalker, Rebecca Luke
The Red Dress, Sophie Pace
Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, Mary McLeod

Best Editing
The Cheerleader Murders, Eric Potter
Girl in the Box, Julian Hart
Manson’s Lost Girls, Josh Hegard
*A Mother’s Escape, Travis Graalman
My Sweet Audrina, Charles Robichaud
The Night Stalker, Celia Beasley

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
Girl in the Box, Claudia Breckenridge, Jen Fisher, Oriana Rossi, Alex Rotundo, Collette Tolen
Killing Mommy, Cinthia Burke, Christie Capustinsky, Kevin Crawley, Kirsten Fairfield, Margaret Harding-Crawley, Corey J. Stone
*Manson’s Lost Girls, Jenni Brown Greenberg, Randi Mavestrand, Kelly Muldoon, Natalie Thimm
A Mother’s Escape, Jenny Hausam, Toni Mario
My Sweet Audrina, Alannah Bilodeau
Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, Tara Hadden-Watts, Alexandra Holmes

Best Original Score
911 Nightmare, David Findlay
*The Cheerleader Murders, Cladue Foisy
Inspired To Kill, Brandon Jarrett
A Mother’s Escape, Todd Haberman
My Sweet Audrina, Graeme Coleman
The Wrong Car, Ed Grenga

Best Production Design
Bad Sister, Lia Burton, Danielle Lee
Girl in the Box, Andrew Berry, Jere Sallee
*Manson’s Lost Girls, Cynthia E. Hill, Linda Spheeris
A Mother’s Escape, Zackary Steven Graham
My Sweet Audrina, Tink, Janessa Hitsman
Toni Braxton: Unbreak My Heart, James Robbins, Courtney Stockstad, Amanda Christmas

Best Sound
*Center Stage: On Pointe
The Cheerleader Murders
Honeymoon from Hell
I Have Your Children
Inspired to Kill
Toni Braxton: Unreak My Heart

Best Visual Effects
Final Destiny
*Flashback
House of Darkness
The Inherited
Little Girl’s Secret
The Watcher

Congratulations to all the nominees and thank you for keeping us entertained in 2016!

Want to see my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2015?  Click here!

And if you want to see my picks from 2014, click here!

Tomorrow, I’ll continue my look back at 2016 with the 16 worst films of the year!

Previous Entries In The Best of 2016:

  1. TFG’s 2016 Comics Year In Review : Top Tens, Worsts, And Everything In Between
  2. Anime of the Year: 2016
  3. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw In 2016
  4. 2016 in Review: The Best of SyFy

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #29: A Mother’s Escape (dir by Blair Hayes)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by the end of Tuesday, December 6th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

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A Mother’s Escape aired on Lifetime Movie Network on July 21st, 2016.

Reportedly based on a true story, A Mother’s Escape tells a story that, on its surface, should be familiar to anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime film.  After an argument with her abusive husband, Murel (Tara Buck) grabs her young son, Kipp (Spencer Mabrey), jumps in a car, and takes off in search of a better life.  When we first meet them, they’re driving through Oklahoma.  They stop at the house of Murel’s mother, Tess (Beth Grant).

From the minute that we first see Murel and Kipp, we feel like they know them.  Both Tara Buck and Spencer Mabrey inhabit these roles so completely that it’s easy to forget that we’re watching actors performing from a script.  Refreshingly, the film makes not attempt to idealize Murel.  She’s frequently immature and occasionally self-centered but the ultimately, she’s defined by her love for her son.  When she briefly talks to her husband on the phone, Murel is briefly tempted to return to him.  Like so many victims of abuse, she fears that she might not deserve better.  Fortunately, Tess is there to bluntly tell her that she does deserve better.

And so does Kipp.

Though her husband is not Kipp’s biological father, he did adopt him when he and Murel married.  After Murel leaves, he accuses her of kidnapping her own son.  Now, Murel must keep Kipp safe while also trying to avoid capture.

As I said, this might sound like a typical Lifetime film.  However, it doesn’t feel like a typical Lifetime film.  It moves at its own slow but steady pace, taking the time to allow us to get to know both Murel and Kipp.  As Kipp, Spencer Mabrey is refreshingly non-cutesy while Tara Buck gives an almost heart-breakingly poignant performance as his imperfect but loving mom.  As an added bonus, this film features some hauntingly beautiful shots of the Oklahoma landscape.

Though it may require some patience, A Mother’s Escape is one of the best Lifetime films that I’ve seen in a while.