Lifetime Film Review: Instakiller (dir by Craig Goldstein)

In a Lifetime film, the value of social media often depends on what time of year the film is taking place.

If it’s a Christmas film, social media is an amazingly helpful tool that helps single young women meet handsome carpenters and which also allows them to keep tabs on whether or not their hometown is going to be able to afford to put on the annual nativity pageant.  Want to find the perfect Santa Claus?  Well, just hop on Facebook and look up Kris Kringle!  Want to discover that, because of a snow storm, you’re going to have to spend the Holidays in a Christmas-themed inn?  Just check on twitter!

Of course, any other time of year, social media is portrayed as being the tool of the Devil.  Social media is how con artists steal identities and how psychotic children track down their birth mothers.  Social media is how lies are spread and how revenge porn pics are sent to everyone on Sunday morning and how stalkers can keep track of your every move.  With the exception of the films that air during Christmas, Lifetime spends most of the year telling us that we all need to get off the grid and consider learning more about the Luddites.  Perhaps we should all go to a religious retreat in the French wine country.  That’s something that my sister Erin and I have often discussed doing.  I don’t drink wine but I do speak French.  She doesn’t speak French but she does drink wine.  A year living offline, we’d make it work and, by the standards of Lifetime, we would both be a lot safer.

Take Instakiller, for instance.  Harper (Lizze Broadway) is an aspiring fashion designer and influencer and her account on …. wait for it …. Instapixer (!) has suddenly become very popular.  (One thing that I always enjoy about these Lifetime films is seeing the names that they come up with for the movie’s version of real-life social media companies.  Degrassi featured two of my favorites, Facerange and MyRoom.)  Unfortunately, Harper also has a stalker.  He sends her creepy messages.  He follows her as she walks home from school and takes pictures.  (When confronted by a bystander, he smashes the man’s face into a car hood.)  When Harper’s mom, Layla (Kelly Sullivan), forces Harper to delete her account, the stalker sits in his car and screams.  Soon, the stalker is attacking people with golf clubs and strangling them with jumper cables.

Who is Harper’s stalker?  Could it be one of the customers at her family’s coffee shop?  Could it be one of Harper’s coworkers or even one of her friends?  There’s one obvious suspect but he’s so obvious that you know from the minute he shows that he’s going to turn out to be geeky but not dangerous.  To be honest, the identity of Harper’s stalker is not that shocking, just because there aren’t that many suspects.  Once you dismiss all of the obvious red herrings, there’s really only one possible suspect left.

But no matter!  Instakiller is an entertaining Lifetime film, which is to say that if you enjoy Lifetime films, you’ll probably enjoy this one.  Kelly Sullivan and Lizze Broadway are believable as mother-and-daughter and I imagine that a lot of moms will watch this movie and find themselves totally relating to Sullivan’s character and her confusion as to why Harper is willing to put her life in danger just to have an Instapixer account.  Seriously, though, once you hit a thousand followers, the risks are totally worth it….

Cleaning Out The DVR: Lethal Admirer (dir by Craig Goldstein)

I recorded Lethal Admirer off of Lifetime on April 15th.

My friends and I have long debated which episode of Boy Meets World is the worst.

My friend Jen has often said that the worst episode was the one where Eric wanted to adopt a kid and she has a pretty good point, there.  Some others have said that the worst episode was the one where Cory acts like an immature jackass when his mom dares to give birth on a day that he wanted to spend exclusively with Topanga and, again, I think they have a valid point.

Speaking for myself. I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities.

First off, there’s the episode where Shawn joins a cult and Cory starts grabbing him and going, “This is a hug, Shawn!  THIS!  THIS IS A HUG!”  The other one is the episode where Cory and Topanga crash a complete stranger’s wedding and Cory makes their special day all about him.

You know which one I’m talking about.  Cory and Topanga know no one at the wedding.  The only reason that they’re there is so they can get ideas for the own wedding.  Still, Cory feels the needs to stand up during the ceremony and give a lengthy speech about how creepily obsessed he is with his fiancée and how he hopes that the newlyweds will be as much in love with each other as Cory is with Topanga.

The worst thing about this scene is that everyone at the wedding is touched by Cory’s speech.  Nobody says, “And you are?”  No one questions why some strange teenager is making the ceremony all about himself.  No one asks why Cory is suddenly the world’s authority on love.  Add to that, beyond Cory being incredibly self-centered, it’s just an extremely awkward moment.  I mean, it’s bad enough to crash someone’s wedding but then to interrupt with some halfassed speech about yourself?  You feel embarrassed for Cory, for everyone at the wedding, and especially for Topanga.

Well, believe it or not, Lethal Admirer contains a scene that is just as thoroughly awkward as Cory’s wedding speech.  This scene also takes place at a wedding.  Unlike Cory and Topanga, Lloyd (Drew Seeley) is not crashing the wedding.  He was actually invited to attend by his friend and former co-worker, Megan (Karissa Lee Staples).  The only reason Megan invited Lloyd to come with her is because her boyfriend, Chris (Brian Ames), broke his leg when he fell off a ladder.  Megan considers Lloyd to be a friend and even wants to set him up with her sister (Courtney Hope).  However, Lloyd is convinced that Megan loves him.  As Lloyd explains it, his mother has always told him that he has to take big chances and Lloyd does just that at the wedding reception.

And, oh my God!  Anyone who has ever had a friend declare their love at the worst possible moment will be cringing with flashbacks!

Of course, it’s not just that Lloyd has no clue about how to socially interact with people.  It’s also that Lloyd’s a little bit crazy.  In fact, he’s just crazy enough to have killed both Megan’s former boyfriend and her current boss.  Remember that ladder that Chris fell off of?  Well, that was no accident.  Nor was it an accident that, after Megan moved across the country, Lloyd suddenly showed up in her new city.  Lloyd is obsessed with Megan and Megan, for whatever reason, is pretty much clueless until it’s too late.

It’s a typical Lifetime movie scenario but Lethal Admirer is distinguished by a script that makes the very wise decision not to take itself too seriously.  It never becomes a full-blown comedy like A Deadly Adoption but the script of Lethal Admirer features enough one-liners and random nonsequiturs to indicate that the filmmakers were determined to have a little bit fun with the typical Lifetime formula.  I especially liked the interactions between Megan and her sister.  Their relationship rang true.

Also ringing true was the character of Lloyd, who was definitely strange but also just charming enough that you could legitimately accept the idea of Megan wanting to be his friend.  Drew Seeley provided an indelible portrait of a nerd scorned in this film.  His little smile when Megan assured him that he could pass for an intellectual hipster was both deeply creepy and kind of sweet at the same time.

Lethal Admirer was a good Lifetime flick.  If nothing else, it should be shown to everyone as an example of what not to do at a wedding.

Cleaning Out The DVR: The Wrong Mother (dir by Craig Goldstein)

(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 187 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on January 15th, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded The Wrong Mother off of Lifetime on April 8th, 2017!)

(aka The Wrong Mother)

The Wrong Mother is a pretty typical example of a type of Lifetime movie that I like to call a “Trust No One Film.”

These films always deal with the same basic plot.  Take a perfect family, consisting of a perfect wife, a perfect husband, at least one perfect kid, and a perfectly outspoken best friend.  Open the film by establishing that they all live in a perfect house.  Then, the wife makes the mistake of inviting a seemingly friendly person into the house and suddenly, things aren’t so perfect anymore.  Suddenly, the husband is being tempted.  The wife is being deceived.  The children are being brainwashed.  And the best friend usually ends up either dead or in the hospital.  It all happened because the wife trusted someone.  If only she had been willing to embrace her paranoia.

In The Wrong Mother, the perfect wife is Kaylene (Vanessa Marcil), who is run down by a SUV one day while she’s out jogging.  The perfect husband is Drew (Stephen Snedden), who works as an airline pilot and is often not home.  The perfect best friend is Samantha (Elizabeth Bond), who immediately realizes that the key to Kaylene’s recovery will be Kaylene washing her hair and not spending too much time in bed.  The two perfect children are twins and they’re just adorable.  And the perfect stranger is a nurse named Vanessa (Brooke Nevin).  After meeting Kaylene and Drew in the hospital, she talks them into hiring her as a home care giver.  Soon, Vanessa is lounging around the pool in a bikini and forcing Kaylene to take all sorts of pills.  Vanessa is so dangerous that she even wears Lolita-style sunglasses.  Samantha suspects that Vanessa might be hiding something…

And she’s right!

For one thing, Vanessa isn’t actually a nurse.  She’s just someone who was hanging out around the hospital.  For another thing, she knows that Kaylene had the twins via in vitro fertilization.  In fact, Vanessa donated the eggs.  Now, Vanessa wants the children for her own and she’s willing to go to any lengths to get them, even murder.

The lesson here?  TRUST NO ONE!

Anyway, The Wrong Mother is a fairly typical Lifetime film.  Once you’ve seen enough of these films, it becomes fairly easy to predict everything that’s going to happen and that certainly was the case with The Wrong Mother.  (At this point, I can usually guess how many commercial breaks will pass before the best friend has an unfortunate “accident.”)  The main reason to watch this movie is for the performance of Brooke Nevin, who delivers her snarky asides and rolls her eyes with such enthusiasm that she provides The Wrong Mother with a few enjoyable sparks.