What Lisa Watched Last Night #197: My Daughter’s Ransom (dir by Doug Campbell)


On Thursday, I watched the first Lifetime film of 2019, My Daughter’s Ransom!

(a.k.a. My Daughter’s Ransom)

Why Was I Watching It?

New year, new lifetime movies!  Every year brings changes but one thing that will never change will be my love for these films and the enjoyment I get from reviewing them.

What Was It About?

Rachel (Scottie Thompson) has a good life.  Her husband, Tony (Matthew Pohlkamp), is a successful businessman who is on the verge of finalizing a big deal.  Her daughter, Lindsey (McKinley Blehm), is intelligent enough to know all about the theories of Charles Darwin.

Unfortunately, Rachel also has an ex-boyfriend named Carter (Lucas Kerr).  Carter’s just been released from prison and, as quickly becomes apparent, his incarceration did not lead to rehabilitation.  After spending months stalking Rachel and her family, Carter kidnaps Lindsey at the zoo.  If Rachel doesn’t do everything that Carter orders her to do, he’ll kill her daughter.

As Rachel tries to figure out a way to save her daughter, she also has to keep following Carter’s orders, which are not only increasingly outlandish but also increasingly dangerous for both Rachel and everyone that she loves….

What Worked?

As anyone who has spent any time watching the channel can tell you, the theme of abduction is a popular one when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That’s because these films deal with the fears that every parent has, not only that your child will be abducted but that you’ll be powerless to rescue them.  My Daughter’s Ransom did a good job of making that fear feel real, especially in the early moments when Rachel was desperately running around the zoo, looking for her daughter.  (The camera holds Rachel in a tight close-up while she searches for her daughter, emphasizing Rachel’s desperation to find her.)

For a film like this to work, you need a good villain and Lucas Kerr did a great job making Carter into the type of creepy, hissable bad guy who you just couldn’t wait to see get his comeuppance.  In the role of Rachel, Scottie Thompson also did great work and it was impossible not to sympathize with her as she tried to get someone to notice that she was in trouble without Carter figuring out what she was doing.

In fact, the entire cast did a great job.  My two favorite supporting characters were Gina (Davida Williams), the wife of Tony’s business partner, and Skates (Erika Fong), Tony’s secretary.  Neither one of them was willing to put up with any nonsense.  Personally, I think we need a sequel where Gina and Skates team up and solve crimes.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  My Daughter’s Ransom got the year off to a good start.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Rachel, I once had a weakness for bad boys.  Actually, now that I think about it, I still do.  That said, the character I most admired was Skates because it didn’t matter how much Carter ordered Rachel to yell at her and threaten to fire her, Skates wasn’t going to let anyone stop her from doing her job.

Lessons Learned

Bad boys never change.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #196: Killer Vacation (dir by Tamar Halpern)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, Killer Vacation!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was new and it was on the Lifetime Movie Network, of course!

Also, I watched it because the Christmas season has begun, which means that Lifetime is mostly going to be showing holiday movies for the next few weeks.  I absolutely love Christmas movies but, even during the holidays, there are times when you just want to see an over-the-top melodrama about someone trying to go on vacation without dying.  Killer Vacation offered a beak from the relentless holiday cheer so, of course, I was going to watch it while shopping online for Christmas decorations.

What Was It About?

Lindsey (Alexa Havins) is having an affair with her boss, Jake (Jacob Young).  Unfortunately, Jake’s married.  He swears that he’s getting divorced but Lindsey can’t help but notice that he still wears his wedding ring.  When Lindsey learns that she’s pregnant, Jake suggests that they go on a vacation together.  Soon, they’re at a resort in New Mexico and strange things are happening!

Could it have anything to do with the fact that Jake’s wife is wandering around the resort as well?  And what about the passive-aggressive private detective who keeps popping up at the most awkward possible moments?  And then there’s that handsome and overly friendly yoga instructor.  Is he trying to help or does he have ulterior motives?

One thing’s for sure.  This vacation is taking a deadly turn!

What Worked?

Never underestimate just how big a factor wish-fulfillment is when it comes to understanding the appeal of a good Lifetime film.  When a Lifetime film has the word “vacation” in the title, that means that the film is promising you lot of pretty scenery and a nice resort.  On that front, Killer Vacation definitely delivered!  New Mexico looked beautiful and I really liked the hotel where Jake and Lindsey were staying.

(In fact, that hotel reminded me of Paradise Hotel.  Remember that old reality show?  I used to watch marathons of it on the much-missed Fox Reality Channel.  The fact that we only got two seasons of Paradise Hotel is a crime!)

What Did Not Work?

At times, Lindsey seemed almost too dumb to be believed.  I mean, don’t get me wrong.  We’ve all been there.  At some point, we’ve all fallen for the wrong guy and ignored all of our friends telling us we were making a mistake and accepted some pretty flimsy excuses for some unforgivable behavior.  So, it’s not that I couldn’t sympathize with Lindsey but seriously, it took Lindsey a really long time to reach the point that most people would reach right away.  Myself, I would buy a plane ticket home as soon as I suspected that my married lover had tried to push me off a cliff.  Maybe that’s just me.

As well, the identity of the murderer was just a bit too obvious.  The film did attempt to introduce some red herrings but it was pretty obvious who the killer was going to turn out to be.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to the scene where Lindsey slipped on a mountain path and nearly fell to her death.  That’s one reason why I rarely go to the desert because I would totally end up being the girl who got distracted and accidentally walked over the edge of a cliff.

Lessons Learned

Never pass up the opportunity to take a free yoga class!  Seriously, your life might depend upon it!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #195: Long Lost Daughter (dir by Christopher James Lang)


On Friday night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Long Lost Daughter!

Why Was I Watching It?

First off, let me just say that, considering what the folks on the East Coast have had to deal with over the past two weeks, I feel really guilty about complaining about getting a little bit of rain in Texas.  (And it’s not really a complaint because, to be honest, I love stormy weather!)

That said, it rained all day Friday and it’s supposed to continue to rain through the weekend.  When I was driving home from work, the rain was so bad that I actually had to limit myself to 30 mph.  We’re under flash flood warning right now.  What better way to pass the time when you’re trapped inside by a storm than be watching a Lifetime movie?

What Was It About?

Cathy Rhodes (Molly Hagan) is a successful and acclaimed author of children’s books.  She’s written hundreds of stories about Mr. Poppins, a rabbit who can’t find his way home.  It’s made her a beloved figure in her small town but there are some who find Cathy and her husband (Bates Wilder) to be a little bit strange.  They whisper about how, 20 years earlier, Cathy’s 7 year-old daughter, Michelle, vanished.

Meanwhile, two new arrivals have come to town.  Jonathan (Richard Brancatisano) is an aspiring science fiction writer.  And his wife (Sofia Mattson) is going to help run the education center that Cathy has helped to fund.  It turns out that Jonathan’s wife is 27 years old and has no memory of her mother or her childhood.  And her name is …. Michelle!

Could Michelle be Cathy’s daughter?  That’s certainly what Cathy thinks and she’s willing to do anything to make sure that both her daughter and Mr. Poppins find their way home…

What Worked?

Molly Hagan may not be a household name but I can guarantee you that you would recognize her if you saw her.  She’s been in a countless number of films over the years and she is a truly great character actress.  She’s played so many different characters and she’s been totally convincing every time.  (I think her best-known recent film might be Sully, where she played one of the flight attendants who chanted, “Brace!  Brace!  Head down!  Stay down!”)  Anyway, Hagan does a great job as the Cathy Rhodes, making her both frightening and sympathetic.

Also giving a good performance was Bates Wilder, who played Cathy’s somewhat creepy husband.  Both he and Hagan keep you guessing.

Speaking of keeping you guessing, this film had an ambiguous ending that I absolutely loved.  I won’t spoil it but it was handled very well.  It’s the type of ending that I wish Lifetime would try more often.  Sometime, it’s not necessary to spell everything out.

What Did Not Work?

Could Michelle and Jonathan have been anymore unlikable?  Michelle acted like moving from the city to a small town was the equivalent of moving to a different country.  When Cathy mentioned she was making a casserole, Michelle’s smug response of, “Casserole!” was enough to make me decided that I wouldn’t ever want to know someone like Michelle in real life.

As for Jonathan … well, I lost all sympathy for him when he announced that, for him, being a writer was about business and not art.  “No one ever reads Proust anymore,” he said, at one point.  What a jerk!  Michelle, at least, kinda redeemed herself as the film progressed.  But Jonathan …. well, once a jerk, always a jerk.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Whenever Michelle got annoyed with Jonathan, I was like, “Oh my God!  I feel the exact same way!”

Lessons Learned

Don’t insult Proust.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #193: House of Darkness: New Blood (dir by Patrick DeLuca)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, House of Darkness: New Blood!

Why Was I Watching It?

The main reason I was watching it was because it was on Lifetime.

That said, I was also intrigued by the fact that Lifetime was premiering a horror film.  In the past, horror has been one of the few genres that Lifetime has usually avoided.  It’s only been rather recently that Lifetime started to show movies that could even be considered a part of the horror genre and, as a horror aficionado, I’m curious to see what this development will lead to.

Of course, another big reason why I was watching it was because it’s been raining nonstop since Thursday so, for once, I actually spent a Friday night at home.  There’s nothing like watching a horror movie while surrounded by rain, thunder, and lightning!

What Was It About?

Judd (Liam McNeill) has asked Brooke (Kate Stone) to marry him!  Yay!

There’s only a few problems.  For one, Brooke’s creepy son, Dylan (Jake T. Getman), doesn’t seem to like Judd that much.  Secondly, Brooke has yet to meet Judd’s mother, Elaine (Hilary Momberger-Powers).  Elaine, it turns out, lives in a big house out in the country, a house that’s full of secrets and — you guessed it — darkness!  When Judd takes Brooke and Dylan out to the house, Elaine doesn’t seem to be happy to see any of them.  Judd says that it’s just a symptom of Elaine’s dementia but is that all there is to it?

Soon, Brooke is hearing weird noises, seeing dark shadows, and having terrible nightmares.  Judd says that it’s probably just a side effect of the sleep aid that she’s taking but Brooke isn’t too sure.  Is it all in Brooke’s head or has she truly discovered …. A HOUSE OF DARKNESS!?

What Worked?

There were a few effectively creepy moments.  The house was big and spooky and full of ominous atmosphere and Hilary Momberger-Powers did a good job as Elaine.  She kept you guessing and off-balance.

What Did Not Work?

House of Darkness ran into the same problem that’s haunted a lot of made-for-TV horror films.  It’s difficult to maintain suspense when you the story has to come to a stop every 15-to-20 minutes for a commercial break.  Every time that I found myself starting to get invested in the storyline, it was suddenly time for that Humira commercial where that guy meets his girlfriend’s parents for the first time.

The fact that it was on television also meant that the horror often had to be a bit low-key.  There was one hanging scene that was effectively horrific but otherwise, the film often felt a bit too restrained to be fully effective.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I know that it’s usually said that people are stupid for not just leaving an obviously haunted house but, to be honest, I’d probably stay even longer than Brooke did.  I mean, it’s not every day you get to deal with the paranormal.

Lessons Learned

Always check the lights before moving into a new house.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Deadly Shores (dir by Fred Olen Ray)


(I recorded Deadly Shores off of the Lifetime Movie Network on August 24th!)

Oh my God, isn’t life just perfect!?

That’s what Anna (Carly Schroeder) should be asking herself.  After a whirlwind courtship and engagement, Anna has just married Richard Palmer (Phillip P. Keene), a famous mystery novelist!  Not only is she a newlywed and it appears that she might soon also be newly rich.  Her parents died mysteriously years ago and she stands to come into a lot of money!

Of course, nothing is ever as perfect as it seems.  Her psychiatrist seems to be concerned about Anna acting too impulsively and he worries that she’s marrying Richard without even knowing him.  When Anna arrives at her new home, she is struck by how coldly she’s treated by the housekeeper.  Anna soon starts to feel that everyone is comparing her unfavorably to Richard’s previous wife, the one who died mysteriously at the lighthouse.   And when Anna discovers that Richard has apparently incorporated his first wife’s death into his latest book, she is not amused.  Even worse is how Richard reacts when Anna dares to wear a necklace that once belonged to dead wife.

And then there’s Beth (Kristin Minter), who seems friendly enough except that she’s awfully close to Richard.  Of course, their closeness could have something to do with the fact that she’s Richard’s mistress.  You know what they say: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you.

And, make no mistake about it, people are out to get Anna.  However, what no one realizes is that Anna has got secrets and shadows in her past as well…

With all of the gothic scenery and the insecure wife and the hostile housekeeper, I was expecting Deadly Shores to just be another version of Rebecca.  And, certainly, the first hour or so has much in common with that classic film.  However, in the best grindhouse tradition, there’s a big twist that occurs during the final seven minutes of the film, one that totally turns the entire movie upside down.  I won’t ruin the twist but I will say that it was a hugely satisfying one.  In the end, Deadly Shores reminded me of one of those strange movies that Joan Crawford and Olivia de Havilland would have made for William Castle or Robert Aldrich back in the 1960s.

Deadly Shores is one of the many movies to have been directed by the prolific Fred Olen Ray.  What his films often lack in budget, Ray makes up for in pure entertainment.  Ray does a pretty good job directing this one, playing up the ominous atmosphere and giving Carly Schroeder enough room to go enjoyably over-the-top in the role of Anna.

All in all, Deadly Shores is an entertaining Lifetime film and one to keep an eye out for.

What Lisa Watched This Morning #192: Lethal Soccer Mom (dir by Max McGuire)


This morning, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere movie, Lethal Soccer Mom!

Why Was I Watching It?

Seriously, how could anyone resist a movie with a title like Lethal Soccer Mom?

Actually, according to the imdb, this film was originally titled Sidelined so I’m going to guess that Lifetime changed the title so it could fit in with their “lethal” series of films.  Personally, I think Lifetime probably made the right choice here.  Sidelined isn’t bad but Lethal Soccer Mom just demands to be watched.

For the record, the film itself actually premiered on Friday night but since I was out, I set the DVR to record it.

What Was It About?

Kate (Tanya Clarke) and her teenage daughter, Cameron (Sarah Grey) have just moved into a new home and Cameron is starting at a new school.  Cameron can’t wait to join her school’s soccer team but she soon discovers that the team’s star player, Hailey (Hannah Vandenbygaart) views her as being a rival.  Complicating things is the fact that Hailey’s mother, Rhonda (Christina Cox), is the coach of the team and worries that Cameron might overshadow her daughter.

As messy as that sounds, it gets even messier when it turns out that Rhonda is willing to do anything make her daughter a star.  Soon, Cameron is being pushed down stairs, getting beaten up at practice, and even her grades are being tampered with!  How far is Rhonda willing to go to keep Cameron off the team?

Well, the title of the movie is Lethal Soccer Mom

What Worked?

When your movie has a title like Lethal Soccer Mom, you’re being promised a certain amount of melodramatic excess and this film certainly delivered on that promise.  Tanya Clarke, Christina Cox, Sarah Grey, and Hannah Vandenbygaart delivered a quartet of fine performances.  Christina Cox, in particular, really seemed to be having a lot of fun as she did everything from seducing her daughter’s boyfriend to chasing her daughter’s rival around the high school with a bat.  A Lifetime film is usually only as good as its villain and Cox turned the coach into a great one!

Lethal Soccer Mom also did a good job of suggesting that, under different circumstances, both Kate and Cameron could probably be just as obsessive and dangerous as Rhonda.  In fact, the only person who didn’t seem to be way too obsessed with soccer was Hailey.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  This is the type of Lifetime films that I love: outrageous, melodramatic, over the top, a little bit silly, and consistently entertaining.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I never played soccer, both because of my asthma and also because it always seemed like everyone I knew was playing soccer and, even at a young age, I always had to be different.  Two of my sisters did play but, when we were growing up, my family moved around too much for any of us to ever get caught up in too much team drama.  Fortunately, my mom never had to become a full-fledged soccer mom.  However, because I was in love with dancing, my mom did spend several years dealing with other dance moms.  Let me tell you, crazy soccer moms have got nothing on crazy dance moms.

Lessons Learned

Soccer makes people crazy.  Of course, we all already knew that…

What Lisa Watched This Morning #189: My Little Girl Is Gone (dir by Ben Meyerson)


Today, I watched My Little Girl Is Gone, which premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network last night.

Why Was I Watching It?

As I stated above, My Little Girl Is Gone actually aired last night.  Usually, I make it a point to watch the latest Lifetime movie as soon as it airs but, last night, I was exhausted.  Seriously, SyFy’s shark week has taken a lot out of me!  So, I set the DVR and I watched it this morning.

Beyond the fact that I’m trying to make room on my DVR (I’ve currently got about 7 hours of recording space still available), I also watched this movie because Lifetime has a history of good kidnapping films.  At its best, Lifetime is about bringing to life everyone’s most basic fears.  I don’t know any mother who wouldn’t be terrified about her child suddenly vanishing.

What Was It About?

It’s about kidnapping and murder and romance and all the rest!

Stephanie (Sarah Lind) is looking forward to a good life.  Not only is she about to make a fortune designing handbags but she’s also engaged to marry the handsome and rich Jameson (Robb Derringer).  Jameson is about to become the stepfather to Stephanie’s daughter, Caitlin (Dylan Raine Woods), and Stephanie is become the stepmother to Jameson’s teenage son, Shane (Braeden Carl).

There’s only a few problems.  For one thing, Stephanie’s ex, Henry (Philip Boyd), doesn’t seem to be too happy about the engagement.  Secondly, Stephanie is getting strange phone calls from someone who is telling her not to marry Jameson and warning that, if she does, her daughter will be abducted.  When Stephanie ignores the caller and marries Jameson, Caitlin promptly vanishes.

Could it be Henry trying to break up Stephanie’s marriage?  Or does Jameson have secrets of his own?

What Worked?

The film’s main mystery was a good one.  Even though the pay-off was a bit disappointing, I was intrigued by who had kidnapped Caitlin and I was also curious about what exactly Jameson was hiding behind his superficial charm.  Dylan Raine Woods and Braeden Carl both gave good and natural performances as the two stepchildren and C.J. Valleroy had some funny moments as Shane’s best friend, Eli.

What Did Not Work?

The mystery was intriguing but the solution sadly wasn’t.  The story’s ultimate villain was a bit too obvious. so it wasn’t really a shock when their true nature was revealed.

As well, it never seemed like there was enough panic when Caitlin disappeared.  Everyone seemed to adjust to her absence pretty easily.  At times, I found myself wondering if the family really wanted her back.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Caitlin handled being kidnapped with cheerfulness and positivity.  If I had been kidnapped at that age, I like to think that I would have handled it as well as Caitlin did.

Lessons Learned

Be careful who you trust.  The handbag business is ruthless af!