Lifetime Film Review: Death of a Cheerleader (dir by Paul Shapiro)


Kelly Locke (Sarah Dugdale) appears to have it all.  Even though everyone agrees that she can occasionally be a little bit mean with some of the things that she says, Kelly is still one of the most popular students at Hollybrook High.  She’s a cheerleader.  She’s the leader of the Bobbettes, the school’s most prestigious social group.  She gets good grades, she lives in a big house, and her family has a lot of money.

Bridget Moretti (Aubrey Peeples), on the other hand, wants to have everything.  She’s shy and desperate to fit in.  She wants to be a member of the Bobbettes.  She wants to be a cheerleader.  Even more importantly, she wants Kelly to be her best friend.  Kelly, however, thinks that Bridget’s a little bit strange.  In fact, when Bridget lies to Kelly about there being a party as an excuse to get Kelly to spend time with her, Kelly accuses Bridget of “wanting to be me.”  Kelly then says that she’s going to tell everyone at school about what a weirdo Bridget is so Bridget stabs her to death.

Now, you would think that Bridget would be the number one suspect.  After all, Bridget’s not that smart and it’s not easy to get away with murdering someone, especially when it’s an impulsive act.  However, no one suspects Bridget.  Bridget’s just too shy and nice for anyone to believe that she could possibly be a murderer.  Instead, everyone assumes that another student, Nina Miller (Morgan Taylor Campbell), is the killer.  After all, Nina used to be popular until she dyed her hair and started hanging out with the stoners.  Nina even threatened to kill Kelly once.  Nina says she was just mad and that she wasn’t being serious but that doesn’t stop strangers from calling her house and demanding that she confess….

Now, if this story sounds familiar, that’s because it’s a true story and it’s one that has been recreated on countless true crime shows, including Deadly Women, 1980s: The Deadliest Decade, and Killer Kids.  It was also turned into a made-for-TV movie in 1994, A Friend to Die For, starring Kellie Martin as the murderer and Tori Spelling as her victim.

Death of a Cheerleader is a remake of A Friend to Die For, telling the same basic story but attempting to give it a more modern spin, which in this case amounts to a lot of hand-held camerawork and a far less judgmental attitude towards casual drug use.  The remake also slightly differs in the way that it views its main characters.  If the first film was sympathetic to Bridget, the remake is a bit more ambiguous.  Bridget is portrayed as being slightly off from the beginning and far more openly bitter over Kelly’s success than in the original film.  At the same time, Kelly is portrayed a bit more sympathetically in the remake than in the original.  Tori Spelling played the role as being a straight-up bitch, whereas Sarah Dugdale instead plays her as someone who puts a lot of pressure on herself and who often doesn’t understand how cruel her comments can sometimes be.  The biggest difference between the two films is that the remake focuses for more on the wrongly accused Nina, even allowing her to narrate the story.  If anything, the film’s main message seems to be about how messed up it is that brave nonconformists like Nina are always going to be unfairly blamed for the mistakes of mousy conformists like Bridget.  That’s a good message and one that I certainly appreciated.

The remake of Death of a Cheerleader works well enough.  The hand-held camera work gets to be a bit much but Sara Dugdale, Morgan Taylor Campbell, and Aubrey Peeples all give great performances and the film actually does a better job than the original of capturing the strange culture of high school popularity.  While it may not feature any scenes as iconic as Tori Spelling melodramatically lighting up a joint, Death of a Cheerleader is still an effective Lifetime film.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #170: Drink Slay Love (dir by Vanessa Parise)


Last night, I watched a new Lifetime film, Drink Slay Love!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

Plus, it was a Canadian film about vampires.  I love Canada and I love vampires!  Ever since that episode of Degrassi where Emma got a “social disease” while playing Mina in a school production of Dracula, Canada and vampires have mixed well.

(Now, I should admit, that, while watching Drink Slay Love, I was also watching a film called The Dead Don’t Die on YouTube.  I’m a big believer in multitasking.)

What Was It About?

Pearl (Cierra Ramirez) has a life that most of us can only have erotically-themed nightmares about.  She’s a sixteen year-old vampire princess.  She’s headstrong.  She’s a little bit bratty.  She’s convinced that nothing can hurt her.  Even after she’s the victim of an attempted staking, she still insists on going out in the middle of the night by herself.  On the plus side, Pearl doesn’t attack animals.  She only attacks humans, especially Brad, the poor guy who works at a 24 hour ice cream parlor and who never remembers Pearl’s nightly visits, in which she always gets a scoop of mint ice cream and a pint of blood.

However, everything changes when it’s discovered that Pearl is immune to sunlight!  She is a rare vampire who can actually walk around in the daylight.  This leads to her parents getting the brilliant idea of sending Pearl to high school.  There’s a big feast coming up and apparently, teenage blood is in high demand.  However, once Pearl arrives at the school, she starts to make friends, almost despite herself.  She starts to do the type of things that teenagers in Lifetime movies always do.  How can she set her new friends up to be the main course?

Of course, some of her new friends have secrets of their own.  You know how that goes…

What Worked?

This was a nice change of pace for Lifetime.  After endless movies about obsessive stalkers and stolen babies and bad celebrity lookalikes, it was nice to see something different on Lifetime.  I’m going to guess that Drink Slay Love was made with October in mind and really, this is a good movie for people who want celebrate Halloween without getting traumatized.  It’s not particularly scary but it’s got vampires and it’s enjoyably silly.

Cierra Ramirez did a good job as Pearl.  Pearl is a very sardonic vampire, which is the best type of vampire to be.  Ramirez delivered her sarcastic dialogue with just the right amount of bite.  (Heh heh, see what I did there?)

If the director’s name seems familiar, that’s because Vanessa Parise has directed several Lifetime movies.  She does a good job with Drink Slay Love, keeping the story moving at a good pace and getting good performances from the entire cast.

What Did Not Work?

To be honest, I liked the whole film.  Even the occasionally sketchy CGI added to the film’s charm.

“Oh my God!  Just like me moments!”

I related to Pearl.  Well, I didn’t necessarily relate to the blood sucking.  But I was really sarcastic when I was sixteen, too.  Plus, I always used to dress in black and then dare anyone to make a comment about it… (Actually, not that much has changed since then…)

Lessons Learned

Canada and Vampires are a good combination!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #127: Her Infidelity (dir by Christie Will)


Last night, I watched Her Infidelity, a Lifetime film that’s been sitting on my DVR since April.

HIWhy Was I Watching It?

I recently discovered that I only had room on my DVR to record another 10 hours worth of programming.  With SyFy scheduled to show several original shark films next weekend, I knew that I had to make room on the DVR.  Otherwise, I would run the risk of the DVR automatically deleting the oldest recordings and I am sorry but there is no way that I’m going to allow Bend It Like Beckham to be erased.  So, with all that in mind, I’m finally getting around to watching some of the movies that I recorded earlier this year.  I started with Her Infidelity, a Lifetime film from April.

What Was It About?

Following the tragic death of his wife and daughter, creepy mask enthusiast Grayson Kendall (Clayton Chitty) gets a job working as an elementary school teacher.  Grayson also volunteers to be the latest teacher liaison to the PTA.

The president of the PTA is Lily Helms (Rachel Hunter), whose son happens to be one of Grayson’s students!  Lily is married but her husband (Lane Edwards) seems to be more concerned with work than with his marriage.  Lily feels neglected, Grayson makes little secret of the fact that he finds her attractive, and can we be surprised that eventually they end up having sex in a motel while Grayson wears one of his masks?

Lily’s husband comes home and promises to be a better spouse and also explains that, despite what Lily assumed, he was not having an affair with his secretary.  Lily wants nothing else to do with Grayson but Grayson has become both obsessed with her and friends with Lily’s husband.  Even worse, he’s now dating Lily’s best friend (Miranda Frigon)!

What Worked?

I liked Her Infidelity.  It told a pretty standard Lifetime story but director Christie Will created a dream-like atmosphere and added enough surreal touches that the audience was kept off-balance.  Up until the very end of the film, I was expecting Lily to suddenly wake up and discover that she had just been having a particularly vivid fantasy.

As well, Her Infidelity — much like A Deadly Adoption — deserves credit for taking everything to its logical extreme.  Grayson isn’t just your standard Lifetime stalker.  Instead, he’s one of the creepiest characters to ever appear on Lifetime or any other network.

One thing I especially appreciated was the fact that, no matter how oddly Grayson behaved, Lily was apparently the only person who noticed.  Everyone around her was so amazingly oblivious.  Even Lily’s husband insisted that Grayson was just a nice guy.  It all helped to create an appropriate atmosphere of paranoia and helplessness.

(It also confirmed one of my own long-held beliefs: people are a lot more stupid than you assume.)

What Did Not Work?

As far as I’m concerned, it all worked.  It was Lifetime movie that promised infidelity, melodrama, and masked men.  And it delivered on all three!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Naturally, I related to Lily’s best friend, the red-headed real estate agent played by Miranda Frigon.  Hopefully, however, I have a better taste in men.

Lessons Learned

Cleaning up the DVR can be fun!