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  While he’s dying in the hospital, he’s visited by Jenna Fallon (Krista Bridges) and her withdrawn son, Joshua (Percy Hynes White).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!”


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!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #166: Daughter For Sale (dir by Farhad Mann)

Last night, I turned on Lifetime and I watched Daughter for Sale!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the main reason was because the film was on Lifetime and I always enjoy live tweeting Lifetime films.  There’s a strong community of Lifetime live tweeters.  We all appreciate Canadian location shooting and unapologetic melodrama.

Add to that, Daughter For Sale is a great title.  When you see that a movie is called Daughter for Sale, you really have no choice but to watch.

What Was It About?

Annalise O’Neil (Emily Rose) is a newly appointed judge.  We know this because 50% of her dialogue consists of her telling people, “I’m a judge.”  She also lives in a house that is almost totally made of glass.  Seriously, it’s all windows and there’s no privacy.

Anyway, when the movie starts, she’s celebrating being a judge by throwing a party at her glass house.  When she tells her teenage daughter, Carly (Emily Tennant), to put on a pink dress and come downstairs to the party, Carly responds by cutting the dress into pieces and then sneaking out of the house.  Somehow, nobody notices her running away, despite the fact that the house is almost all window.

Anyway, Carly wanders around Vancouver for a while and then ends up getting kidnapped by a human trafficking ring that is operated by a pretend do-gooder named John Gallant (Antonio Cupo).  Working with a whiny, leather jacket-wearing detective named Derek (Chris Kalhoon), Annalise searches for her missing daughter.  (Her search basically consists of approaching random people and saying, “I’m a judge.”)  Will Annalise and Whiny Detective Man be able to find Carly before she’s sold to the highest bidder?

What Worked?

Particularly for a Lifetime film, Daughter For Sale looked really good.  The shadowy cinematography created the perfect sense of menace.  The warehouse that Carly was kept in was pure nightmare fuel.  We tend to take production design for granted but the people responsible for the look of Daughter for Sale outdid themselves.

Emily Tennant did a pretty good job as Carly. (Remarkably, despite spending about a month in a dirty old warehouse, Carly’s hair and makeup remained perfect throughout the entire movie.)  Antonio Cupo was properly sleazy as the bad guy.  I enjoyed the way the film contrasted Gallant’s public image with the monstrous reality of who he truly was.

What Did Not Work?

“I’m a judge.”  Yes, we know, Analise!  You don’t have to mention it every two minutes!  You being a judge certainly isn’t going to get your daughter out of that warehouse…

This was one of those films where everyone continually switched from being super competent to being super stupid, depending on what was necessary for the scene.  Analise, in particular, was always either a genius or the most naive jurist in history.  Meanwhile, John Gallant was able to run a halfway house, a charity, and an international sex trafficking ring but he wasn’t smart enough to hide the incriminating evidence in his office.  If you’re going to send a thug to beat up a judge, it might be smart to not allow yourself to then be seen, in public, hanging out with the exact same thug.  Or, at least, that’s the way it would seem to me.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

“I’m a judge!”

No, actually, I’m not.  But if I was, I would probably remind everyone every chance I got as well.

Lessons Learned

She’s a judge!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #123: Til Death Do Us Part (dir by Farhad Mann)

Last night, I finally got a chance to watch the latest Lifetime original film, Til Death Do Us Part.

Til Death Do Us PartWhy Was I Watching It?

I missed this one when it premiered on Lifetime last Saturday because I was busy watching Lake Placid vs. Anaconda on SyFy.  Thank God for the DVR!

What Was It About?

It’s yet another Canadian-produced Lifetime movie about a new bride who suspects that her husband might be hiding a deadly secret.  Sandra (Haylie Duff) has just married a doctor named Kevin (Ty Olsson).  At first, Kevin seems like the perfect man but, after they move to a small town, he starts to reveal a controlling and angry side.  Because Sandra has a heart condition, he demands that she constantly take pills.  At the same time, his obsessively devoted sister, Jolene (Magda Apanowicz), has literally moved into the house.

When one of Sandra’s coworkers mysteriously dies, Sandra starts to wonder if maybe her husband was somehow involved.

What Worked?

The film’s first hour worked perfectly, largely because it emphasized Sandra’s confusion and her struggle to adjust to being a part of couple.  Haylie Duff gave a pretty good performance during this part of the movie and was just unstable enough to allow the viewer to think that maybe — just maybe — everything really was just in her head.  Unfortunately, the film sacrificed all hints of ambiguity during the far less satisfying second hour but, for those initial 60 minutes, it was a good and effective thriller.

Ty Olsson and Magda Apanowicz were both well cast as the mysterious husband and his creepy sister.  Magda Apanowicz particularly deserves a lot of credit for totally committing herself to her role.

What Did Not Work?

This is one of those films that was great as long as you didn’t know what was going on.  As long as the viewer was as confused as Sandra, the film worked.  But then, as Kevin’s true nature became more and more obvious, the film itself became less and less interesting.  I almost wish that no effort had been made to provide any motivation for either Kevin or his sister.  If the two of them had remained enigmas, this film could have been an existential masterpiece as opposed to just being another take on Gaslight.

It was hard not to feel that Sandra could have avoided a lot of her troubles by simply doing a google search on Kevin before agreeing to marry him.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

If and when I do get married, I hope that my wedding will be as fun and as full of dancing as the wedding that opened this film.  Seriously, I loved the first 15 minutes of this film because it was all about the wedding!

Lessons Learned

Before getting married, be sure to do a google search.