Lifetime Film Review: Kidnapped in Paradise (dir by Vic Sarin)


It seemed like it should have been the perfect vacation.

Savannah (Claire van der Boom), her husband Brad (Todd Lasance), and their daughter Aria (Molly Wright) travel to an island resort off the coast of Australia.  It’s the resort that Savannah used to vacation at when she was a child and this is a chance for her to not only get in touch with her past but to also show her family a good time.

And, at first, everything seems perfect.  The island is beautiful.  The people working at the resort are friendly.  There’s a nice and attractive couple staying in the cabin next door.  Even more importantly, there’s Kidz Club, where Savannah and Brad can drop off Aria so that they can have some alone time.  Seriously, that may be the best thing about the resort because there are just times when the adults need some time to themselves.  Aria and her stuffed bunny, Mr. Pickles, are dropped off.  Unfortunately, when Savannah returns to Kidz Club to pick up her daughter, Aria is nowhere to be found.

Has Aria wandered off?  Has she gotten lost on the beach?  Has something worse happened?  Soon, everyone on the island is searching for Aria.  Mr. Pickles is found but where’s Aria?  When someone sends Savannah a picture of Aria looking happy and drawing, Savannah realizes that her daughter didn’t just wander off.  She’s been kidnapped!  Kidnapped in paradise!

For all of their trademark melodrama, the best Lifetime films deal with very real fears.  Discovering that your lover is cheating on you or that your in-laws so disapproves of you that they’re willing to go to any length to either prevent or destroy your marriage, these are very real fears for a lot of people.  For a parent, there’s no greater fear than losing a child and/or not knowing where your child is.  I mean, I may not be a parent but I am an aunt and I once lost track of my niece at the Dallas Arboretum and it was like the most terrifying 8 hours of my life.  (Actually, it was only 15 minutes but it felt like 8 hours.  Not only was I scared that I’d never see my niece again but I was also terrified of what her mother would do when she found out.  Fortunately, it turned out that my niece had just run ahead of me to another exhibit but still, I was on the verge of having a heart attack by the time I saw her running up to me.)

Kidnapped in Paradise captures that fear of losing a child and the feeling of powerlessness that goes along with it.  From the minute that Aria disappears, Savannah is searching for her and demanding that others search for her as well.  Claire van der Broom did a good job of portraying Savannah’s desperation and her anger that the resort didn’t do a better job of keeping track of her daughter.  What I liked is that whenever anyone else started tries to make excuses or started to talk about their own problems, Savannah was like, “Shut up and find my daughter.”

At the same time, as bad as I felt for Savannah, I was happy that her child was kidnapped in paradise as opposed to being kidnapped on a less photogenic island.  Seriously, the resort looked really nice and I totally want to stay there, despite the area’s history of abductions.  I mean, once you take the whole kidnapping thing out of the equation, it really was an nice place to work on your tan and take romantic walks on the beach.

My point is that the film delivered exactly what the title promised, which is perhaps the highest praise that you can give to most films.  There was a kidnapping and there was paradise.  The plot held my attention while the resort held my imagination.  It was a good combination.

The combination of The Wrong Real Estate Agent and Kidnapped in Paradise gets Lifetime off to a good start for 2021.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #214: The Wrong Real Estate Agent (dir by David DeCoteau)


Last night, I watched the first Lifetime premiere of 2021, The Wrong Real Estate Agent!

Why Was I Watching It?

It was the first Lifetime film of 2021 so how couldn’t I watch it?

Add to that, I love the “Wrong” series.  The “Wrong” films are all directed by David DeCoteau and they all feature Vivica A. Fox in a supporting (or, in this case, a lead) role.  These films are always a lot of fun and, since they’re all filmed in Canada, there’s always chance you might spot someone from Degrassi in the cast.

(Admittedly, The Wrong Real Estate Agent is the rare “Wrong” film to feature no one from Degrassi.  But it’s the first Lifetime film of 2021 so we won’t hold that against it.)

What Was It About?

Julie (Vivica A. Fox) and her daughter Maddie (Alaya Lee Walton) have just moved into a wonderful, beautiful house but, unfortunately, they’re renting from the wrong real estate agent!  Charles (Andres Londono) used to date Julie and it’s obvious that he wants to win her back.  However, Charles’s idea of how to win someone back involves a lot of lies and a lot of murder.

Soon after moving into their new home, Julie and Maddie begin hearing strange sounds and seeing weird movement in the shadows.  Most disturbingly to me, someone has been using the shower when Julie’s not home.  Seriously, you don’t use someone else’s shower without asking first!

And let’s not even get started on the mysterious room that’s always locked off….

What Worked?

Vivica A. Fox has appeared in all of the “Wrong” films but usually, she’s cast in a supporting role.  She usually plays some sort of no nonsense authority figure who shows up at the end of the film to announce, “He messed with the wrong cheerleader” or “He was the wrong wholesale jewelry importer” or something like that.  In The Wrong Real Estate Agent, she played the lead role and it was a nice change of pace.  I thought she did a good job in the lead role, even if Julie sometimes seemed to be impossibly naïve.

Alaya Lee Walton also did a good job as Julie’s daughter, Maddie.  She and Fox were very believable as mother and daughter and their relationship rang true.

Finally, I loved the house!  That may sound like a small compliment but seriously, a good Lifetime film always features a great house.  So far, the “Wrong” series has been very good about using the right house.  If I ever do move to Canada, it’s going to be because of both Degrassi and the numerous Canadian produced Lifetime films that have left me convinced that every house in Toronto is a mansion.

What Did Not Work?

Charles was just a little bit too obviously crazy.  In general, it’s a good idea to suspend your disbelief when it comes to a Lifetime film and to just kind of go with whatever happens but, in this case, Charles really was so obviously unstable that you kind of wondered how anyone played by Vivica A. Fox could be naïve enough to trust him.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Maddie, particularly when she argued with her mom about whether or not she should shut the window in her bedroom.  Her mom thought the open window was an invitation to sickness and danger.  Maddie knew that she had to keep the window so her boyfriend could sneak in and out of the house.  Of course, Maddie couldn’t explain that was the reason why the window needed to be open but, to her credit, Maddie stayed her calm and talked her mom into letting her keep the window open until it was time for bed.  Good job, Maddie!  I wish I had been that good at winning arguments when I was that age.

Lessons Learned

When it comes to renting or buying a house, make sure you’ve got the right real estate agent.  Because the wrong real estate agent will not only try to get you to go out of your price range (that’s something I learned from watching House Hunters) but he’ll eventually try to kill you as well.

The other thing I learned is that every profession has at least one wrong person.  Someday, I’m hoping to see a film called The Wrong Administrative Assistant or maybe The Wrong Stunt Double.  Seriously, this series can go on until the end of time.

Lifetime Film Review: The Pom Pom Murders (dir by Tom Shell)


Cheerleading is dangerous!

Of course, if you’ve been watching Lifetime for the past month or so, you know that.  Lifetime has spent most of October showing movies about cheerleaders who are either killing or being killed.  Now that Lifetime has decided to show Christmas movies for the rest of the year, the deadly cheerleader movies have moved to the Lifetime Movie Network.

For instance, last night saw the premiere of The Pom Pom Murders!  Now, I was co-hosting the #ScarySocial live tweet last night so I missed The Pom Pom Murders but, fortunately, my sister Erin had the foresight to set the DVR for me.  Thank you, Erin!

As I always do whenever there’s a killer cheerleader movie on the DVR, I tried to get Erin to watch it with me.  Erin was a cheerleader in high school and I always feel it’s good to get an expert opinion on whether or not these films accurately reflect the cheerleading experience.  (I always refused to try out for cheerleader in high school, mostly because two of my sisters had done it and I wanted to establish my own identity.  Of course, since I was a teenager at the time, establishing my own identity meant writing a lot of emo poetry.)  Erin, however, declined because no one was murdered while she was a cheerleader.  I guess she has a point.

Anyway, The Pom Pom Murders is about Audrey (Anna Marie Dobbins), who tries out for a spot on the cheerleading squad of the Los Angeles Renegades basketball team!  She makes the squad and she even gets a charming new boyfriend when star player Walter Wilson gives her a ride home!  Everything seems to be perfect, until the murder of Bailey (Grace Patterson), a member of the squad and Walter’s ex-girlfriend!  Bailey is strangled while her dog watches, just in case you needed any more evidence that this killer is ruthless.

With Walter as the number one suspect and an apparent killer stalking the Renegade Girls, can Audrey cheer the team to victory without losing her life?  One would normally think so, seeing as how this is a Lifetime film and most Lifetime films do, eventually, have a happy ending.  However, this film also features a rather snarky voice-over from Audrey, one which suggests that this story might not have a happy ending.  Of course, Audrey also suggests that she might just be saying that to make you watch so one huge reason to watch the film is to see if Audrey’s an honest narrator or not!

The best Lifetime films always mix the melodrama with a healthy dose of self-awareness.  These are films that go cheerfully over the top and make no apologies for doing so and that’s certainly the case with The Pom Pom Murders, which features an enjoyably eccentric group of suspects.  Is the murderer the pervy janitor or the intense coach or the strange owners?  Is Audrey going to be able to solve the case or is she going to end up the latest victim?  Is she going to become the newest star cheerleader or is she going to finally listen to her mother and go to law school?

You’ll have to watch the film to find out!  This is a fun movie.  If you’re into Lifetime movies, you’ll be doing some cheering yourself.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #206: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished (dir by Caroline Labreche)


On Friday night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, No Good Deed Goes Unpunished!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

Usually, I make it a point to watch every single Lifetime film.  Unfortunately, last year, I got a bit sidetracked and I missed quite a few.  I’m determined to not let that happen this year.  I’ve got quite a few curretly on the DVR and since I’m going to be working from home for at least next month (thank you very much, Coronavirus panic), I’m looking forward to getting to watch them all.  Since No Good Deed Goes Unpunished was the first Lifetime premiere since I returned home from my vacation, there was no way I was going to miss it.

What Was It About?

Karen (Michelle Borth) has some problems.  Her husband just recently died and, despite the help from her sister-in-law Sophie (Cristina Rosato), Karen is having trouble holding it all together.  She’s struggling financially, to the extent that she’s actually had to take in a border, Calvin (Oliver Price).  Calvin has taken over the room that used to belong to Karen’s resentful, young son, Max (Noah James Turcotte).  Karen is up for a big promotion at work but everyone but Karen can see that the obvious favorite for the job is the sleazy Lance (Jason Deline).  Lance is an old friend of the boss and, of course, he’s also a man.

One night, while Karen’s at the grocery store, she finds herself in the middle of an attempted robbery.  When the robber points the gun at another shopper, Jeremy (Mark Rendall), Karen steps in and basically saves Jeremy’s life.  After the police show up, Karen just wants to forget about the whole thing and move on with her life.  However, Jeremy is now obsessed with Karen and he has decided that he’s going to do whatever it takes to become a part of her life….

As the title says: No good deed goes unpunished!

What Worked?

So, I absolutely loved this movie.

Seriously, this was one of the best psycho stalker films to ever premiere on the Lifetime Movie Network.  Not only did the plot fully embrace the melodrama (which is always the key to any successful Lifetime film) but it featured some pretty good performances from Michelle Borth, Mark Rendall, and Christina Rosato to boot!  Mark Rendall played Jeremy with a creepy smile and an unhinged eagerness to please and it was a lot of fun to watch him and wonder just how far he was going to go to try to get close to Karen and Max.

One thing that I really liked about this movie is that, from the minute she first met Jeremy, Karen was like, “Okay, this guy is weird.”  So many Lifetime films are overly dependent on everyone acting like an idiot until the final third of the movie.  Not so with this one.  Karen suspects that Jeremy has issues from the start.  What makes Jeremy an effective villain is that, even though almost everyone wants him to leave, they somehow can’t ever seem to make it happen.  Jeremy slides into their lives and basically just refuses to go away.

I also liked Oliver Price’s performance as the hilariously entitled Calvin.  Calvin was like every boomer’s nightmare of what my generation is like and Price appeared to be having a lot of fun with the role.  His incredulous look of shock when Karen demanded that he actually pay his rent was one of my favorite moments.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  This was a great Lifetime film.

“Oh my God! Just Like Me!” Moments

I totally related to Sophie, who had a good attitude and absolutely no fear of suggesting that a young child walk home and cook his own dinner.  I know that some people would say that was irresponsible on her part but I like to think that she was preparing Max for life in the real world.  You can’t always depend on your wacky aunt to come pick you up after karate class.  When she has things that she would rather do, you need to be able to get back home and make yourself something to eat without burning down the apartment.

My other favorite Sophie moment was when her sister demanded to know if she was high and Sophie waited like two minutes before replying that she was.  Seriously, if someone asks you if you’re high and you hesitate by answering, you might as well just say “yes” because everyone knows.

Sophie deserves her own movie.

Lessons Learned:

Don’t ever save anyone’s life.  It’s just not worth all the trouble afterwards.  Don’t be a hero as the movie villains like to say.

 

What Lisa Watched Tonight #204: Escaping My Stalker (dir by Linden Ashby)


Tonight, I watched the first Lifetime movie of 2020 — Escaping My Stalker!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was the first Lifetime film of 2020, of course!

Seriously, though, 2019 was not an easy year for me as a reviewer.  I got busy.  My time management skills mysteriously fell apart.  As a result, I missed a few Lifetime films and I also didn’t always have time to review quite a few of the ones that I did see.  One of my resolutions for 2020 is to not let that happen again.

I mean, don’t get me wrong.  If I’m not going to be at home when the movie airs, I’m going to set the DVR.  But, this year, I’m not going to let movies pile up on my DVR before I watch them and, even more importantly, I’m not going to get behind on my reviews.  That’s my 2020 resolution and if I break it, I’m blaming everyone who follows me on social media.

Those are the stakes, my friends.

(For the record, I will be watching and hopefully reviewing the remaining Lifetime films on my DVR this weekend.)

What Was It About?

Up until a year ago, 17 year-old Taylor (Ezmie Garcia) was homeless.  Fortunately, she was eventually taken in and adopted by Larry (Linden Ashby) and his wife, Sandy (Alexandra Paul).  Now, Taylor has a job at the local skatepark and her life appears to be heading in the right direction.  However, Taylor also has a stalker!  When that stalker breaks into Taylor’s home and shoots Larry in the leg, Taylor realizes that her new life isn’t as secure as she thought it was.

It’s no spoiler to tell you that Taylor’s stalker is Miles (Andrew James Allen).  Miles lives with his grandmother (Mariette Hartley) and it quickly turns out that grandma is actually encouraging Miles!  Miles and grandma have got their own reasons for wanting to destroy Taylor’s new family, reasons that only become clear as the film progresses.

What Worked

It all worked!

Seriously, Escaping My Stalker was a perfect way to start the new year.  The story was interesting.  The film was well-directed by Linden Ashby.  Ezmie Garcia did a great job playing a character who was a bit tougher than the average Lifetime teenager.  Meanwhile, Mariette Hartley appeared to be having a lot of diabolical fun in the role of the Grandma from Hell.  Even though Miles was not necessarily a sympathetic character, it only took one look at Grandma to understand why Miles turned out the way that he did.

Also, Escaping My Stalker featured a Clu Gulager shout-out!  When Taylor first meets Clu Dunsten (Pedro Correa), she asks him if he’s named after the great character actor Clu Gulager.  They even spend a few minutes talking about Return of the Living Dead!  If that isn’t the best way to start off 2020, I don’t know what is.

Finally, this was not just a Lifetime melodrama.  It was also a film about the homeless situation, which is getting worse day-by-day (and not just on the West Coast, either).  This was a Lifetime film with a conscience.

What Didn’t Work

As I said, it all worked.  This was exactly the type of film that one hopes to see while watching the Lifetime Movie Network.

“OH MY GOD!  JUST LIKE ME!” Moments

To be honest, I could only hope to be as tough and resourceful as Taylor.

Lessons Learned

There are still people out there who appreciate a good Living Dead film.

What Lisa Watched This Morning #204: Your Family Or Your Life (a.k.a. April’s Flowers) (dir by Tom Shell)


The morning, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, Your Family Or Your Life!

Why Was I Watching It?

Your Family or Your Life premiered last night on the Lifetime Movie Network but, because it was All Saints’ Day, I spent yesterday with my sisters, singing Shakira songs, not watching anything on television, and basically staying completely offline.  However, I did set the DVR because a non-Christmas related Lifetime premiere is going to be a rarity from now through December.

When I got home this morning, I promptly watched Your Family Or Your Life.

What Was It About?

David Meyer (Alexander Carroll) is a former alcoholic who is now a successful attorney.  His work has led him to discover some illegal shenanigans concerning Erica Hearns (Angelica Bridges).  Hoping to say out of prison, Erica sends Ed (Eric Michael Cole), the world’s most incompetent hitman, to kill David.  Ed manages to make David’s death look like a suicide but David’s widow, Kathy (Jennie Garth) is not convinced.  For that matter, neither is David’s stepdaughter, April (Luca Bella).  Kathy’s best friend, Michelle (Alexandra LeMosle) has some suspicions as well!  Like I said, Ed’s not very good at this.

So now, Ed and Erica have to figure out a way to silence all of the people who don’t think that David committed suicide.  Fortunately, for them, they’ve got an inside player.  Little does April suspect that her boyfriend, Damon (David Gridely), is actually one of Erica’s relatives!

What Worked?

Jennie Garth is just the greatest!  Depending on how old you are, you either know her primarily from Beverly Hills 90210 or What I Like About You.  This film had a 90210-style plot with a What I Like About You attitude and it was fun to watch Garth do things like beat up a burglar with a baseball bat.  Garth brought a lot of energy to her roll.

Angelica Bridges was entertaining as the villain.  Her frustration with Ed was wonderfully performed.  When she realized that Ed had basically screwed up a very simple murder, I think anyone who has ever been a supervisor could relate to her frustration.

The mother-daughter relationship between Kathy and April felt very realistic, especially when it came to Kathy’s immediate dislike of Damon.  That might be because Luca Bella actually is Jennie Garth’s daughter.

What Did Not Work?

I regret that the film made it clear, from the start, that David had been murdered.  I would have preferred a more ambiguous approach, one that left you wondering if David actually had been murdered or if maybe Kathy really was just seeing what she wanted to see.

I also regret that the film did NOT feature the following dialogue:

“Your family or your life!”

“I’m thinking about it!”

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

I also keep a baseball bat near my bedroom door, just in case I ever have to use it.  I don’t think I could wield it as decisively as Jennie Garth does, though.

Lessons Learned

If you’re going to hire a hitman, spend a little extra and get one who is actually good at his job.  Otherwise, things just get too complicated.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #203: Designed to Kill, a.k.a. Deadly Runway, a.k.a. Fatal Fashion (dir by Doug Campbell)


Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Channel and I watched a movie that has many names.  When it was originally released on Netflix last year, I believe it was called Deadly Runway.  According to the imdb, it’s also known as Fatal Fashion.  Lifetime aired it under the title Designed To Kill.

Well, no matter which title you want to go with, I watched it!

Why Was I Watching It?

How can I review it without watching it first?  This isn’t rocket science, people!  Beyond that, though, I was in the mood for a good Lifetime melodrama.  Of course, right now, Lifetime is currently only showing Christmas movies from here to eternity.  So, if you want to see the type of Lifetime film that we all know and love, you’re only place to turn is the Lifetime Movie Network.

What Was It About?

Basically, it’s a murderous remake of Pygmalion!

Oh, you doubt me?  Well, consider this — Jennifer Higgins (Linsey Godfrey) — is given a job at the local high school, teaching a class about fashion.  David (Joshua Hoffman) ends up in her class, hoping that he can practice his skills as a photographer.  David is awkward, shy, wears glasses, has no fashion sense, and his hair is almost always a mess.  Jennifer takes one look at him and decides to prove that she can turn anyone into a super model.  Next thing you know, David has new clothes, a new haircut, and a new career.  He almost gets a new girlfriend until Jennifer gets jealous and pushes her off a ledge.

See, there are a few differences between Jennifer and Henry Higgins.  Some of them are obvious.  Jennifer is a woman and is flirtatious.  Henry was a man and a bit of a prick.  But perhaps the biggest difference is that Jennifer Higgins has a tendency to get obsessed with her models and, as mentioned above, Jennifer’s willing to kill people.

Anyway, David is enjoying his new life as a model and Jennifer is enjoying being his mentor but then it turns out that David’s friend, Caitlyn (Ellen Michelle Monohan) has model potential as well!  How will Jennifer handle it when Caitlyn and David are soon appearing on covers together?

What Worked?

Oh Hell, it all worked.  This was so over the top and fun and melodramatic that there was no way not to love it.  Linsey Godfrey was wonderfully insane as Jennifer Higgins and Monhan and Hoffman made for a very adorable couple.  This movie was a lot of fun.

And before anyone starts nitpicking this film or debating whether or not the plot fully made sense, allow me to remind you that if you’re taking a film like this seriously, you’re doing it wrong.  This film was designed to deliver pure entertainment and that’s exactly what it does!

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Caitlyn, mostly because we both have red hair, bad eyesight, and a low tolerance for alcohol.

Lessons Learned

Henry Higgins could have been worse.

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.