Cleaning Out The DVR: A Killer In My Home (dir by Farhad Mann)


When the lockdown was first announced down here in Texas, my initial reaction was, “Well, at least I can clean out my DVR now….”

Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out like that.  First off, I got caught up trying to work my way through my collection of DVDs and Blu-rays.  Then, I ended up getting distracted by my efforts to binge my way through The Sopranos, Oz, and Deadwood.  And suddenly, here we are!  It’s nearly June.  The lockdown is in the process of ending.  And I’ve barely made a dent on working my way through the 230 programs that I have on my DVR.

Earlier today, I decided to finally get to work by watching the Lifetime film, A Killer In My Home.  A Killer In My Home originally aired on the Lifetime Movie Network back in February.  I was on vacation at the time so my wonderful sister was nice enough to record it for me.  Watching it was an interesting experience, just because there weren’t any COVID-19-themed commercials.  Instead, there were a ton of commercials for Tom Steyer and Mike Bloomberg.  I mean, seriously — whenever you think about how bad 2020 may be right now, just remember that, even before everything shut down, we had to spend a month and a half dealing with the Tom and Mike charm offensive.

As for the film itself, it tells the story of Allison Wright (Bree Williamson) and her daughter, Hollie (Hannah Vandenbygaart).  Allison and Hollie appear to have the perfect life.  Not only do they live in a huge house but Hollie appears to have the perfect future ahead of her.  Soon, she’ll graduate high school, get a nice car, and go to a good college.  But then, Allison’s husband and Hollie’s father suffers a heart attack!  While he’s dying in the hospital, he’s visited by Jenna Fallon (Krista Bridges) and her withdrawn son, Joshua (Percy Hynes White).  When Allison demands to know why Jenna is visiting her dying husband, Jenna explains that she had an affair with Allison’s husband and Joshua was the result.  Apparently, Allison’s husband spent years visiting and financially supporting Jenna and Joshua.  Now that he’s dead, Jenna and Joshua have no one left to provide for them.

Now, if you were Allison, what would you do in this situation?

Would you say, “Tough shit, you whore.  Get out of here and take that bastard with you!”

Or

Would you say, “Why don’t you come live in our guest house?”

Now, to the film’s credit, Allison’s initial reaction is to tell Jenna and Joshua to go away.  However, a few weeks later, Allison has a change of heart and she allows Jenna and Joshua to move into the guest house.  Jenna and her son are supposed to stay away from the main house and out of Allison and Hollie’s lives.  Needless to say, things don’t work out like that.

Soon, strange things start to happen.  There’s a break-in at the house.  Despite her efforts to ignore him, Joshua still tries to talk his half-sister.  Jenna starts to throw biker-populated parties at the guest house.  Despite the fact that she claims to have no money, Jenna is able to buy her son an expensive jeep.  Allison comes to realize what we realized from the beginning: Jenna has sinister motives of her own!  The only question is whether or not Joshua shares those motives or if he’s just a pawn trapped in a game he didn’t intend to play.

A Killer In My Home is okay.  If I’m not as enthusiastic about it as I am about other Lifetime films, it’s because I never believed that Allison would 1) allow Jenna to stay in the guest house and 2) allow her to continue to stay in the guest house even after it became obvious that some seriously strange stuff was going on.  Allison lost my sympathy by doing that.  However, I did really like Krista Bridges’s performance as the unstable Jenna and I though Hannah Vandenbygaart gave a good and sympathetic performance as the daughter who is basically just sick of dealing with the adults in her life.  I could definitely relate.

Finally, the house was nice.  Lifetime movies always feature the nicest houses and A Killer In My Home featured one of the best!

Lifetime Film Review: Recipe For Danger (dir by Lisa France)


What’s the perfect recipe for dangers in a Lifetime movie?

Well, you need a pinch of melodrama, a dash of empowerment, a tablespoon of a wimpy spouse, and a quart of psycho energy.  Sorry, I’m not really much of a cook and you can probably already tell.  Perhaps that’s why I’ve always been obsessed with cooking shows and movies about professional chefs.  I watch and I think to myself, “How come they can do that when I can’t even make toast without nearly burning down the kitchen?”  And, of course, I always take a bit of pleasure when Gordon Ramsay catches a professional chef trying to serve up raw lamb.  “See!?” I shout at the TV, “It can happen to anyone!”

But to get back to my recipe.  Here’s what you need to cook up some danger, Lifetime-style.

You need a protagonist who has a glamorous job and an attractive family.  In the case of Recipe for Danger, Vanessa (Bree Williamson) is the head chef at a very successful restaurant.  Vanessa has a super supportive husband (Adam Hurtig) and a super loyal best friend (Kate Yacula).  Vanessa also has an adopted daughter named Lacy (Annelise Pollman).

You need to have a bit of a moral panic.  In this case, Vanessa is warned that she’s oversharing on social media.  She’s constantly posting pictures of her life and writing about Lacy’s accomplishments.  She’s warned that, if she’s not careful, she’s going to end up with a stalker.  Vanessa laughs off the danger.  She’s proud of her daughter.  She has a great life.  Why shouldn’t she share?

And, of course, you need a psycho!  In this case, that psycho would be Taryn (Sarah Lind).  Taryn’s is Lacy’s birth mother and she wants her daughter back.  Due to Vanessa’s habit of oversharing, Taryn has been able to track them down.  (Who’s laughing now, Vanessa!?)  Taryn manages to get a job working in Vanessa’s restaurant and soon, she and Vanessa are besties!  Everyone tries to warn Vanessa that something is off about Taryn but Vanessa refuses to listen.  Of course, eventually, Taryn kidnaps Lacy.  Can Vanessa rescue Lacy and how many people will end up in the hospital before Taryn’s rampage ends?

This was a pretty standard Lifetime kidnapping film, though I did like the fact that, rather than passively going along with being kidnapping, Lacy was always looking for an opportunity to escape and she got a chance to prove herself to be considerably more clever than even her own birth mother gave her credit for being.  Sarah Lind’s been in quite a few Lifetime films and she does a pretty good job as Taryn, providing a nice balance between charm and psychosis.

In the end, Recipe for Danger is a filling if rather traditional meal.

 

Film Review: Mommy’s Little Boy (dir by Curtis Crawford)


On Saturday, Lifetime presented a Mommy Madness marathon, showing a series of melodramas that all, in some way, involved motherhood.  They showed everything from Killing Mommy to Mommy’s Secret to Mommy’s Little Girl.  They ended the night with not one but two premiere films!  Needless to say, I was excited.  After missing last week’s Lifetime movie (though I did DVR it so fear not!), I was looking forward to embracing the melodrama not once but twice!

The first premiere was Mommy’s Little Boy, which naturally came on immediately after Mommy’s Little Girl.  Just judging from the title and Lifetime’s previous record when it comes to children, I assumed that Mommy’s Little Boy would be about a homicidal child.

It turns out I was incorrect.  Don’t get me wrong, of course.  The kid does kill at least one person.  Actually, I think he killed two people but the film is a little bit ambiguous as to whether or not little Eric (Peter DaCunha) meant to let his half-brother Max (Auden Larrat) drown.  You really couldn’t blame Eric if that was the case.  Max was a stone-cold psychopath who started the movie threatening to attack a stray dog with a power drill.  Max got whatever he deserved.  As for that other murder that Eric commits — well, it’s self-defense.  Eric really had no choice.  Eric’s a good kid, dangit!

Instead, it’s his mother who is the problem.  Briana (Bree Williamson) has a really nice house but she’s the type of mother who is too busy sunbathing (while wearing an American flag bikini, no less) to notice that one of her sons is drowning in the pool behind her.  Briana is almost always drunk or stoned.  She brings strange men home with her.  She neglects Eric and sends him to school in grubby clothes.  She murders the neighbor for being condescending, banging her over the head with the same skillet that will later be used to prepare Eric’s breakfast.  Briana’s not the world’s best mother but, at the very least, she has a nice house.

Seriously, you have to see this house.  Have you ever seen House Hunters?  You know how the third house is always a really nice house that, we’re told, is a little bit outside of the house hunters’s budget?  (“Now, this is listed for a little more than you said you were willing to pay but the price may come down…”)  That’s the type of house that Brianna lives in.  Unfortunately, Brianna has kinda trashed the place.  At one point, she explains that she inherited the house after her parents died.  At least, for once, a Lifetime movie took the time to explain why even the trashiest of characters always live in the nicest of houses.

Anyway, Briana’s killed someone and she forces Eric to help her cover up the crime.  That kinda traumatizes Eric.  He’d much rather live with his softball coach, Michael Davis (Paul Popovich).  However, Briana is determined to get in her new boyfriend’s RV and flee to Mexico.  And she expects her only remaining son to come with her.  Whatever is Eric to do!?

Well, you probably already guessed what happens.  Mommy’s Little Boy was a standard Lifetime film but I liked it.  If nothing else, Bree Williamson deserves some sort of award for how totally and completely she throws herself into the role of Briana.  It takes courage to play someone that trashy without winking at the audience but Williamson does it.  Overall, Mommy’s Little Boy was an entertaining addition to Lifetime’s stable of films about mentally unstable maternal figures.

Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: A Mother Betrayed (dir by Michael Feifer)


A Mother Betrayed

After I finished up my review of Seeds of Yesterdayit was time to rewatch and review A Mother Betrayed.  Last Sunday, A Mother Betrayed premiered on Lifetime.  I watched it and I had a lot of fun live-tweeting it.  Seriously, it’s a fun movie.

The plot may, at first, sound similar to Dangerous Company but A Mother Betrayed quickly establishes it own nicely berserk identity.  When we first meet Monica (Lynn Collins) and Jonathan (David Paetku), they’re standing on the beach and declaring their love for each other.  Since this is a Lifetime movie, we know that early declarations of undying love will only lead to tragedy.  Sure enough, Monica and Jonathan are soon in a car accident.  Monica, who was pregnant at the time, survives.  Jonathan does not.

Just forward 3 years and Monica is now a single mother who is obsessed with her job (she’s in charge of an architectural firm) and her daughter, Maddy (Ariella and Isabella Nurkovic).  At a party, her assistant, Lisa (Bree Williamson) introduces her to a single man named Kevin (Adam Kaufman).  Within a few minutes of meeting, Monica and Kevin are in love.  Ignoring the concerns of her mother (Joanna Cassidy), Monica marries Kevin.  Kevin adopts Maddy and appears to be both the perfect father and the perfect husband.

But is he!?

Well, the name of the movie is A Mother Betrayed

It turns out that Kevin has plans of his own and Lisa, the perfect assistant, is a part of them.  Of course, what’s interesting is that Maddy is a part of Kevin’s scheme as well.  No, Maddy is not conspiring against her mother.  However, it quickly becomes obvious that Kevin really does love Maddy and he actually is a pretty good father.  He wants to take over Monica’s business because he’s greedy but he wants custody of Maddy because he appears to genuinely love her.  That plot development brings an unexpected amount of depth to this Lifetime movie.

(And other plot development that I, speaking as an administrative assistant who happens to be named Lisa, appreciated was that the movie’s Lisa actually made a pretty good point when she eventually taunted Monica by pointing out that Lisa was doing a better job running the company than Monica ever did.  Up to that point, everything that we had seen in the movie seemed to indicate that Lisa was correct.  Between Kevin’s parenting and Lisa’s efficiency, the villains of A Mother Betrayed were nicely nuanced.)

Much as in Dangerous Company, Monica soon finds herself suffering from terrible headaches, forgetfulness, and even hallucinations.  Kevin arranges for Monica to be committed because, in the tradition of all paranoia thrillers, literally everyone appears to be in on the plot — even the doctors!

However, Monica is not alone!  She starts to see Jonathan.  Is she hallucinating or has his spirit really returned to help her?

A Mother Betrayed was a lot of fun and I recommend it to everyone who wants to watch an enjoyably over-the-top Lifetime melodrama.  The entire cast does a pretty good job, with Adam Kaufman even managing to generate some sympathy for the duplicitous Kevin.  (Seriously, Kevin is so good with Maddy!)

Finally, on a strictly personal note, there’s no way that I couldn’t appreciate a film that features an administrative assistant named Lisa.  Finally, a character to which I could relate!

Seriously though, Lifetime replays their movies constantly.  A Mother Betrayed is one to keep an eye out for.