Lifetime Film Review: Deadly Hollywood Obsession (dir by Daniel Ringey)

Ah, Hollywood!

Hollywood is where people to go to become a star.  It’s also where people go to marry a star or, depending on which movie you’re watching, maybe get murdered by a star.  And, of course, it’s also where every unbalanced stalker goes so that they can …. well, stalk a star!

Sam Austin (Jon Prescott) is a star.  He’s a star of the magnitude that merely speaking to him can cause TMZ to suddenly materialize outside of your house.  Sam Austin’s living the dream and if you have any doubt, you should just see his house.  I mean, this is a Lifetime film and it’s pretty much established that everyone in the world of Lifetime lives in a mansion but, even by the standards of the typical Lifetime home, Sam has got one impressive house!  I especially liked his pool, which small but stylish.

Still, even with the nice house and the movie stardom, Sam’s life is not perfect.  The dream is occasionally a nightmare.  For instance, his wife was mysterious murdered about a year ago and the perpetrator has never been caught!  It’s assumed that his wife was murdered by someone who may have developed an obsession with Sam….

Someone like Lynette (Hannah Barefoot)!  Lynette lives with her mom and never seem to be happy, unless she’s watching Sam Austin on TV or following Sam around California.  When Lynette approaches Sam’s son, Jack (Brady Bond), and tries to convince him to go off with her, the only thing that keeps her from pulling off the perfect kidnapping is a teacher named Casey (Sarah Roemer).  After Casey chases off Lynette, Sam is so thankful that he hires her to be his son’s home school teacher!

Suddenly, Casey’s a celebrity and she even gets her own “5 Things You Need To Know About” profile.  The paparazzi are asking her questions.  Everyone wants to know if Casey and Sam are now a couple and it doesn’t take long before they are.

Uh-oh.  Lynette’s not going to be happy about that….

Deadly Hollywood Obsession was a lot of fun.  There’s a neat little twist about two-third through the film, one that reveals that none of the characters are quite who we originally assumed them to be.  Jon Prescott and Sarah Roemer are both well-cast as Sam and Casey but the film is truly stolen by Hannah Barefoot, who really tears into the role of the unstable yet not totally unsympathetic Lynette.  Barefoot has been in quite a few Lifetime films and she plays Lynette with the right combination of anger and sadness.  You get the feeling that, even if she wont admit it, Lynette secretly knows that her obsession has pretty much ruined her life but she’s now in so deep that she really has no other option but to continue down her self-destructive path.

And, it bears repeating, Sam’s home is absolutely gorgeous!

Seriously, don’t discount the power of a nice house.

Lifetime Film Review: Hometown Killer (dir by Jeff Hare)

Penny (Ashley Gallegos) is your worst nightmare.

She’s a former high school outcast who can now legally carry a gun.  How much of an outcast was Penny?  She was such an outcast that she was humiliated at a school dance by a bunch of popular kids who tied her down to a chair, made her up to look like a pig, and then displayed her in front of the entire class.  Seriously, how do teenage bullies come up with stuff?  I mean, I was never one to take part in bullying but, even if I was, my ADD would make it impossible for me to pull off most of the elaborate schemes that always seem to take place in movies like this.

Anyway, Penny was traumatized by the whole incident but she still managed to graduate and eventually become a cop.  That’s right.  Penny is upholding the law and she’s got an entire department to back her up in case she happens to shoot anyone and …. well, can you see why this might be a problem for her former high school classmates?

One night, Penny is called out to investigate a home invasion.  After Penny shoots the home invader dead, she meets with the home’s owner and it turns out to be a former classmate, Tara (Kaitlyn Black)!  Tara, who seems to have no memory of Penny’s life being destroyed in high school, is soon hanging out with her old classmate.  She invites her to a party.  She and Penny go out to the desert for target practice.  The whole time, of course, Penny keeps imagining that she’s surrounded by the taunting laughter of her former classmates.  Penny’s going to get her revenge, even if it means coming up with a scheme that’s even more ludicrously elaborate as the one that embittered her in the first place.

Hometown Killer is a classic Lifetime film, one that full embraces every melodramatic possibility of its storyline.  Penny may be a dishonest murderer but you still feel sorry for her because of what she went through in high school.  This is one of those films that makes you think, “Y’know, she probably she shouldn’t be doing this but maybe she should.”  Director Jeff Hare adds enough little quirky touches to distinguish Hometown Killer from other, similar films.  I especially liked the way the he took us in and out of Penny’s mind, always keeping us off-balance as to whether or not we were seeing what was really happening or if we were instead seeing what Penny thought was reality.  It kept the audience off-balance and, as a result, Hometown Killer generated a lot more suspense than the average Lifetime film.

The success of a film like this pretty much hinges on the actress playing the killer and Ashley Gallegos did a great job of making Penny both sympathetic and frightening.  Perhaps her greatest moment in the film is when she simply watches the chaos that she’s created and allows herself a slightly satisfied smirk.  It’s a small moment but it tells us everything that we need to know about what’s going on in her head.  Also impressive was Kelly Marcus, who was wonderfully obnoxious as the prototypical high school bully who never adjusted to life in the real world.

Hometown Killer aired on Lifetime and, Lifetime being Lifetime, it will undoubtedly air again.  Keep an eye out for it!

Lifetime Film Review: Saving My Baby (dir by Michael Feifer)

Poor baby Lilly!

She’s only a few weeks old and her life is already all drama all the time!

First off, Lilly was born slightly premature, shortly after her mother, Sarah (Brianne Davis), was involved in a serious and suspicious auto accident.  Then, while her mother is still in a coma, her father, Travis (Jon Prescott), decides to take Lilly and run off to Palm Springs with her.  Accompanying Travis is his overprotective mother, Virginia (Kathleen Quinlan) and Jessica (Tonya Kay), who just happens to be the friend who introduced Sarah to Travis in the first place.  Speaking of just being friends, that’s what Travis swears that he and Jessica are but we all know that’s not the case.  We know this because this is a Lifetime film and it’s rare that anyone’s ever just a friend in the world of Lifetime.  Of course, Sarah’s parents and her sister object to Travis taking the baby to Palm Springs but what can they do?  He’s the father.

Of course, eventually, Sarah wakes up and she’s like, “Where’s my baby?”  When she hears that Lilly has been taken to Palm Springs, she quickly calls up Travis and demands to know what’s going on.  Travis assures Sarah that his mother is looking after Lilly and promises that they’ll return the following morning.  Sarah then hears Jessica talking in the background.

“IS JESSICA THERE!?”  Sarah asks.

Travis, not surprisingly, doesn’t have a quick answer for that.

As should already be obvious, there was a lot more to Sarah and Travis’s whirlwind romance than just love.  Unlike the attempted murder, the baby was never a part of the plan.  However, now that Lilly’s been born, Travis definitely wants to keep her.  Jessica, meanwhile, is concerned about how much Sarah and her family are willing to pay for the return of Baby Lilly….

Kidnapped children are pretty much a staple plot point when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That really shouldn’t be surprising.  The most effective Lifetime films are the ones that deal, however melodramatically, with real-life fears and what could be more scary than the thought of losing your baby?  Whereas other mothers in Lifetime kidnapping films at least get to spend some time with their child before the abduction happens, Sarah wakes up to discover that her baby has been taken to another city.  When she desperately asks her sister for information of how the baby looked before she was taken away, it’s a moment of intense emotional honesty.

Saving My Baby is a bit unique among Lifetime kidnapping films in that it actually spend more time with the kidnappers than with the family of the kidnapped.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sarah is a sympathetic character and Brianne Davis does a good job playing her but the film is far more interested in Jessica, Travis, and Virginia.  As played by Jon Pescott, Travis spend most of his screentime wearing the haunted expression of someone who knows that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life.  Not only does he have his wife angry at him but his mother won’t stop telling him that he’s a terrible father and his girlfriend keeps demanding that he get rid of both his mother and his daughter.  Kathleen Quinlan does a great jon, keeping you guessing about Virginia.  You’re never quite sure how much she knows about what Travis and Jessica are planning.  However, the film is totally stolen by Tonya Kay, who is like a force of destructive nature in the role of Jessica.  Jessica may be evil but you can’t help but sympathize with her frustration at times.  I mean, everyone around her is just so incompetent!

Saving My Baby is an entertaining Lifetime kidnapping film.  Wisely, the film eventually moves the action to Las Vegas, which is the perfect location for the movie’s melodrama.  For the film’s finale, Saving My Baby makes good use of the Nevada desert, with the desolation perfectly capturing the feeling of hopelessness that Sarah’s been feeling ever since the disappearance of her daughter.  It all leads to gunfire and tears and hopefully, a lesson learned about letting your no-good son-in-law take your granddaughter to Palm Springs.  We can only hope.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #183: The Wrong Daughter (dir by Ben Myerson)

Last night, I watched The Wrong Daughter on the Lifetime Movie Network!

Why Was I Watching It?

I think I must have missed The Wrong Daughter when it originally premiered on Lifetime.  Maybe I was out spying on the neighbors or something.  Who knows?  Fortunately, Lifetime always shows their movies about a hundred different times during the year so, last night, I got a chance to catch up!

What Was It About?

Kate (Cindy Busby) has a lot to deal with!  Not only is she trying to open up her own restaurant but she and Joe (Jon Prescott) are desperate to start a family.  In the aftermath of another failed IVF treatment, Kate promptly starts repainting the nursery and talking about how she could turn the room into an office.  (Interestingly, they live in a pretty big house so I’m kind of surprised she didn’t have an office already.)  However, Joe has a solution!  Maybe Kate could try to track down the girl that she gave up for adoption 17 years ago!

Meanwhile, 18 year-old Samantha (Sydney Sweeney) is just about to get kicked out of her group home.  Abandoned by her mother when she was born, Samantha has never been adopted.  Why not?  Well, it might have something to do with Samantha being slightly psychotic.  And while you may be thinking that Samantha is probably Kate’s long lost daughter, she’s not!  However, her roommate is!  When Samantha runs away and steals Danica’s (Sierra Pond) laptop, she discovers a message from Kate, announcing that she’s Danica’s mother and inviting Danica to come see her.

Soon, Samantha is at Kate’s restaurant, dressed demurely, claiming to be Danica, and working her way into Kate and Joe’s life.  Meanwhile, the real Danica just wants her laptop back.  Samantha, however, is happy being Danica and is willing to do anything — from bribing an old homeless woman to pretend to be the head of the group home when Kate calls to murdering anyone who turns their back on her — to remains so.

What Worked?

This was a pretty good example of the “killer imposter” genre of Lifetime films.  Movies like this pretty much live and die based on the performance of the imposter and Sydney Sweeney did a good job playing the duplicitous Samantha.  It was especially fun to watch her switch back and forth between being demure Danica and murderous Samantha.

What Did Not Work?

How naive can one person be?  That’s kind of the question that I had to ask about Kate, who was both a savvy businesswoman and yet somehow was easily fooled by even the most obvious of Samantha’s lies.  As much fun as it was to watch Kate get fooled over the phone by a crazy homeless woman, it was still hard not to wonder how that could have possibly happened in the first place.

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

From the minute Samantha first climbed through the window of her group home, I started having flashbacks.  That’s the same way that I used to sneak out of the house.  When you’re growing up in the suburbs, it helps to be a good climber.

Lessons Learned

Protect your laptop with you life.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #148: Seduced (dir by Jessica Janos)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime film premiere, Seduced!


Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!  Every Saturday night, I either watch or DVR the new movie on Lifetime.  I absolutely and unconditionally love these movies and I don’t care who knows it.  Plus, the title of the movie was Seduced and, as we all know, the best Lifetime movies often feature the word “seduce” in the title (i.e., Lethal Seduction, The Babysitter’s Seduction, etc).

What Was It About?

Someone is murdering redheads in California!  (Speaking as a redhead, allow me to just say, “Agck!” in regards to that.)

Meanwhile, via a missed connections app, Caroline (Elisabeth Rohm), a redhead who lives in California, meets the mysterious and charming Gavin (Jon Prescott).  Caroline is still haunted by the loss of her husband and spends most of her time trying to take care of her teenage daughter (Jessica Amlee) while keeping the company she works for — a place called Funderstorm — from going out of business.  However, Gavin takes her away from all that, introducing her to a world of sensual and erotic delight.

(You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting for the chance to use “a world of sensual and erotic delight” in a review.)

Gavin seems to be perfect.  He’s handsome, he has a sexy accent, he lives in a nice house, he cooks, and he reads books!  However, since there is Lifetime, there are a few warning signs that Gavin may not be as great as he seems.  For one thing, despite living in an absolutely fabulous house, he always seems to need money.  For another, Caroline becomes so enraptured by him that she starts to neglect both work and her daughter.  And then there’s the mysterious Margo (Julie Mond), who appears to be involved with Gavin in some way as well.

And, of course, there’s those news reports about the murdered redheads….

What Worked?

I really enjoyed this one.  This movie featured everything that we love about Lifetime movies — melodrama, sex, several nice houses, clothes to die for, and even a little bit of empowerment at the end.  The entire film was well-cast with Elisabeth Rohm doing a great job as Caroline and Jon Prescott epitomizing dangerous charm as Gavin.  And, of course, I also have to praise Julie Mond, who didn’t appear in many scenes but definitely made an impression.

I also really liked the relationship between Caroline and her daughter.  Rohm and Jessica Amlee were totally believable as mother and daughter and every detail of their relationship rang true.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked.  If you’re into Lifetime movies, this film is for you.  If you’re not into Lifetime movies — well, then you probably stopped reading this review a few paragraphs back.  And that’s okay, I still love you!  Lifetime films are not for everyone but if you enjoy them, you should enjoy Seduced.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Oh my God, so many of the characters had red hair just like me!  It’s just too bad that so many of them ended up getting killed.

Lessons Learned

Some connections are best missed.