2020 In Review: The Best of Lifetime


As chaotic as 2020 may have been, one thing remained unchanged!  Lifetime provided me with a lot of entertainment!  Below, you’ll find my picks for the best Lifetime films and performances of the past year!

(For my previous best of Lifetime picks, click on the links: 2014201520162017, 2018, and 2019!)

Best Picture:

  1. Mile High Escorts
  2. Escaping My Stalker
  3. Sleeping With Danger
  4. Beware of Mom
  5. Abducted On Air
  6. Killer Competition
  7. Remember Me, Mommy?
  8. A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2
  9. Cheer Squad Secrets
  10. Deadly Mile High Club

Best Director:

  1. Jeff Hare for Beware of Mom
  2. Sam Irvin for Mile High Escorts
  3. David Weaver for Sleeping With Danger
  4. Linden Ashby for Escaping My Stalker
  5. Colin Theys for A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2
  6. Doug Campbell for Deadly Mile High Club

Best Actress:

  1. Wendie Malick in Deranged Granny
  2. Elisabeth Rohm in Sleeping With Danger
  3. Sydney Myer in Remember Me, Mommy?
  4. Ezmie Garcia in Escaping My Stalker
  5. Anita Brown in Cheer Squad Secrets
  6. Crystal Allen in Beware of Mom

Best Actor:

  1. Houston Stevenson in A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2
  2. Antonio Cupo in Sleeping With Danger
  3. Panos Vlahos in Psycho Yoga Instructor
  4. Nick Ballard in Psycho Escort
  5. Andrew James Allen in Escaping My Stalker
  6. T.C. Matherne in A Murder to Remember

Best Supporting Actor

  1. Damon K. Sperber in Deadly Mile High Club
  2. Jim Klock in Secrets in the Woods
  3. Gord Rand in Abducted on Air
  4. Brandon Howell in Beware of Mom
  5. Mark Jude Sullivan in Sinfidelity
  6. Jeff Schine in A Mother Knows Worst

Best Supporting Actress

  1. Cristine Prosperi in Killer Competition
  2. Perrey Reeves in Abducted on Air
  3. Mariette Hartley in Escaping My Stalker
  4. Christina Moore in Mile High Escorts
  5. Christie Burson in Ruthless Realtor
  6. Cristina Rosato in No Good Dead Goes Unpunished

Best Screenplay:

  1. Stephen Romano for Escaping My Stalker
  2. Richard Blaney and Gregory Small for Sleeping with Danger
  3. S.L. Heath for Beware of Mom
  4. Barbara Kymlicka for Abducted on Air
  5. Daniel West for Killer Competition
  6. Adam Rockoff and Zachary Valenti for Remember Me Mommy

Best Score:

  1. Andrew Morgan Smith for Sinfidelity 
  2. David Findlay for Revenge For Daddy 
  3. Christopher Cano for The Pom Pom Murders
  4. Fantom for Mile High Escorts

Best Editing:

  1. Maxime Chalifoux for Abducted on Air
  2. Seth Johnson for The Pom Pom Murders
  3. Bryan Capri for A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2
  4. Kelly Herron for Sleeping With Danger

Best Cinematography:

  1. Branden James Maxham for A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2
  2. Nate Spicer for Mile High Escorts
  3. Thomas M. Harting for Sleeping With Danger
  4. David Dolnik for Deadly Mile High Club

Coming up next (tomorrow at the latest — maybe sooner, depending on how much time I can devote to watching 6 movie today): My picks for the best films of 2020!  Finally!

TSL Looks Back at 2020:

  1. 12 Good Things I Saw On Television in 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  2. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Novels of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  3. Lisa Marie’s Top 8 Non-Fiction Books of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  4. Lisa Marie’s 20 Favorite Songs of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  5. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2020 (Lisa Marie Bowman)
  6. My Top 20 Albums of 2020 (Necromoonyeti)
  7. 25 Best, Worst, and Gems That I Saw In 2020 (Valerie Troutman)
  8. Top 10 Vintage Collections (Ryan C)
  9. Top 10 Contemporary Collections (Ryan C)
  10. Top 10 Original Graphic Novels (Ryan C)
  11. Top 10 Ongoing Series (Ryan C.)
  12. Top 10 Special Mentions (Ryan C.)
  13. Top Ten Single Issues (Ryan C)

 

Lifetime Film Review: Sorority Secrets (dir by Damian Romay)


I’ll just be honest here.  Trying to balance receiving reports of the U.S. Capitol being stormed by rioters with watching and reviewing the 2020 Lifetime film, Sorority Secrets, was not easy.  In fact, I’m not really sure that I succeeded.

Most Lifetime films work best if they’re watched in just one sitting.  You sit down on the couch.  You watch the film.  Assuming that you’re watching it on your DVR, whenever a commercial pops up, you hit the fast forward button and you skip over it.  (That’s especially true if you’re watching something you recorded early in 2020 because there’s seriously only so many Michael Bloomberg commercials you can sit through.  Fortunately, Sorority Secrets aired in late August, after Bloomberg had dropped out but before the presidential campaign commercials really fired up.)  By skipping those commercials, you also manage to maintain a sense of narrative momentum.  You get wrapped up in the story and you don’t get distracted by the semi-annual sale and, as a result, you don’t spend too much time thinking about plot holes or anything like that.  The important thing is not to let your momentum get disrupted.  Unfortunately, earlier today, it was a bit more difficult than usual to maintain that momentum.

Still, I enjoyed Sorority Secrets.  Perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t been worried that a revolution was about to break out but still, it was an enjoyably over-the-top melodrama.  Lifetime is well known for airing films about cheating husbands and stalker ex-boyfriends but it’s also aired its share of dangerous sorority films.  In a dangerous sorority film, a smart young college student from a poor family always ends up getting a chance to join the biggest sorority on campus.  The student is always hesitant until she finds out that she’ll get free room and board and she’ll also get a chance to get a summer internship out of it all.  Of course, the sorority always turns out to be full of secrets.  There’s usually a murder or two, along with scenes of the student’s overprotective mother worrying that her daughter has gotten in over her head.  These are fun movies.

In Sorority Secrets, the student is Cassie (Bryntee Ratledge) and she’s shocked when she’s invited to join the snootiest sorority in campus.  She’s not even into the whole sorority thing but, you know …. free room and board and a chance to connect with influential people.  Cassie decides to go for it but she eventually discovers that her sorority is basically just a front for an escort service.  If that’s not bad enough, it appears that someone has murdered Cassie’s sorority sister, Kerrie (Shayna Benardo).  Kerrie, who bore a resemblance to Cassie, was also wearing Cassie’s jacket when she fell in front of an train.  Could she have been pushed?  Well, we know that she was because we saw the hand that gave her a shove.

Anyway, the fun thing about Sorority Secrets is that members of the sorority all basically got their own personal clothing allowance and, as a result, everyone in the film was absurdly overdressed.  Both the clothes and the sorority house were to die for and really, that’s probably the most important thing when it comes to a deadly sorority film.  Though the plot undoubtedly had its holes, the film embraced the melodrama and went happily over the top and it provided a nice distraction for a few hours.  What more can you ask for?

Lifetime Film Review: My Daughter’s Psycho Friend (dir by Michael Feifer)


My Daughter’s Psycho Friend aired in March of 2020 on the Lifetime.  I DVR’d it.  I’m not sure why I didn’t watch it when it aired.  I’d have to go back and look through all my journals to piece together what I was doing on that date in March and, quite frankly, I’m feeling a little bit too rushed to take the time to do that.  I’ve got a lot of movies to watch and review of the next few days and, in the end, it really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is that I DVR’d it and I finally sat down and watched it earlier tonight.

Now, before anything else, I should point out that My Daughter’s Psycho Friend is a brilliant title.  You see a title like that and you automatically have to watch, which makes it all the stranger that it took me so long to get around to it.  It’s not just a good Lifetime title but it’s a good title period.  I think anytime when you include the word “psycho” in the title, you’re going to catch someone’s attention.  Psycho is just such an extreme term.  The full title, “My Daughter’s Psycho Friend,” links it to what I assume would be every parent’s nightmare.  What if your child’s best friend did turn out to be a psycho?  What if they led them astray or, even worse, put them in danger?

Unfortunately, the title isn’t quite accurate.  While Lexi (Avery Kristen Pohl) does invite Sierra (Taylor Blackwell) to hang out with her after Sierra transfers into Lexi’s high school, it’s a bit of a stretch to really call Lexi and Sierra friends.  From the start, Sierra seems to be somewhat weary of Lexi and Lexi seems to know that eventually, she’s going to end up having to frame Sierra for all sorts of misdeeds.  Also, though Sierra does have a mother, she’s really not that important to the plot.  The film pretty much revolves around Sierra.  A more proper title for the film would have been My Psycho Acquaintance.

However, the title does get the psych part right.  Lexi has some definite issues that go far beyond just being a mean girl in high school.  She lives in a nice, big house and she had a glamorous mother (albeit one who makes a big deal about always having to “clean up” after Lexi’s mistakes) and everyone at school wants to be her friend but Lexi still can’t be happy unless she’s playing a cruel joke on someone.  For instance, at one party, Lexi drugs someone’s drink and then has a good laugh as that person stumbles away.  Of course, once he turns up dead in Lexi’s swimming pool, it’s time for a cover up!  And if Sierra is determined to discover the truth about what happened at the party …. well, Lexi’s just going to have to take care of that, as well.

Anyway, this was a typical Lifetime film about teenagers gone wild.  Lexi’s house was nice and Avery Kristen Pohl did a good job playing up the whole psycho part of Lexi’s personality.  If you’re into Lifetime melodrama, you should enjoy this one.

Lifetime Film Review: Fatal Fiancé (dir by Ben Meyerson)


It should be the perfect wedding.

The location is beautiful.  The weather is nice.  The romance is in the air.  The bridesmaids dresses aren’t hideous. The groom, Mark (Greg Perrow), is handsome and charming and no one seems to be too concerned with his mysterious past.  In fact, Mark is such a romantic that he even insisted on not seeing Leah (Brittany Underwood) the night before the wedding.  He is that dedicated to making sure that they have both the perfect wedding and the perfect honeymoon!  Even his future mother-in-law likes him, though that seems to have more to do with his abs than his romantic nature.

Again, it should be the perfect wedding.  There’s only one problem.  No one can find the bride!  Leah has yet to arrive for her own wedding.  Is it possible that she got cold feet and hopped on a plane for tropical island?  (That’s what her father suspects, as Leah apparently has a history of doing impulsive stuff like that.)  Or could it be something more serious?  Leah’s friends are concerned enough to call the police.

And, indeed, Leah has no absconded to the tropics.  Instead, she’s being held prisoner by Faith (Camila Banus), a mentally unstable woman who insists that Leah is making a mistake by marrying “Brian.”  But wait a minute …. Leah is marrying Mark!  Who is this Brian that Faith keeping going on about?  Has Leah mistaken Mark for another ex-boyfriend or is there something more sinister going on?

Well, you can probably guess the answer to all of those questions.  Apparently, this film was originally entitled A Deadly Bridenapping, which is a bit of unwieldy title but which, at the same time, doesn’t reveal as much about the plot as a title like Fatal Fiancé does.  As you can guess from the new title, Mark does have some secrets of his own and there’s a bit more to the kidnapping than just Faith being hung up on an ex-boyfriend.  You’ll figure all of that out long before Leah does but that’s okay.  That’s one of the pleasures of watching a Lifetime film, after all.  We always want to be a step or two ahead of the leading character, the better for us to our shake our heads whenever they make a big and obvious mistake.  Leah makes quite a few of them over the course of Fatal Fiancé.

Fatal Fiancé was a fun movie to watch.  If the best Lifetime films can be described as being about beautiful people finding themselves in ugly situations, Fatal Fiancé delivered.  Leah’s wedding dress was to die for and so were all the houses.  There was plenty of melodrama and plenty of eye candy and really, what else do you need?  Brittany Underwood was a sympathetic main character and Camilia Banus did a good job as the unstable Faith.  Greg Perrow was both charming and menacing as Mark and he got to deliver a rant about pine nut allergies that really had to be seen to be believed.  All in all, this was an entertaining movie about a wedding gone wrong.

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: Killer Dream Home (dir by Jake Helgren)


Oh Hell yeah!

Now, this is a good Lifetime film!

Basically, Killer Dream Home tells the story of Jules (Maiara Walsh) and Josh Grant (John DeLuca).  They’re young.  They’re married.  They’re hot.  Josh never wears a shirt, which is kind of nice.  They’ve just bought a gigantic house that they’re planning on flipping, though there’s no way I would ever give up that house because it’s seriously one of the best that I’ve ever seen.  I mean, the pool alone is bigger than my back yard.  They invite their friend, Bliss (Brooke Butler), to come live with them.  You know that you’ve made it when you’ve got a blonde friend named Bliss.

They also end up hiring an interior designer named Morgan (Eva Mauro) but it turns out that Morgan might not be as perfect as their new house.  First off, it turns out that Morgan’s entire portfolio was made up of pictures that she cut out of magazines.  As soon as Morgan shows up, the first thing that she does is scare away the gardener, with whom she appears to have some sort of deep, dark history.  The second thing she does is suggest to Jules that Josh might be cheating on her with Bliss.  The third thing she does is get undressed while Josh is watching.  Morgan attempts to seduce Josh and Josh is all like, “Just because I don’t own a shirt, that doesn’t make me a man whore!”

And so it goes.  It all leads to murder, of course.  It always does.

Killer Dream Home has everything that you could possibly want from a Lifetime film.  It features beautiful people, beautiful houses, a lot of sex, and a few murders.  (Morgan doesn’t hold back when it comes to killing people.  Just as Jake is apparent allergic to shirts, Morgan is allergic to following a moral code.)  Jake Helgren has directed a lot of these films and he definitely knows not only what the audience wants but also how to deliver it.  Some might complain that Killer Dream Home is not a particularly realistic film but realism is not what we watch films like this for.  We watch films like this for handsome husbands who never wear a shirt and dangerous femme fatales who wear scandalous bathing suits while using the pool.  Lifetime films, at their best, create their own sort of alternative dream world and that’s certainly what Killer Dream Home accomplishes.

Killer Dream Home is a film that you experience more than you watch.  It’s a journey into the heart of Lifetime melodrama, where every house is big and everyone is sexy and every stranger has a mysterious past.  Watch this film for the house and the clothes and the wonderfully arch dialogue.  Watch it for Eva Mauro’s unapologetically intense performance.  Watch it for the scene where Morgan narrowly misses Bliss with a nail gun and then attempts to laugh it off. That nail gun gets quite a workout in Killer Dream Home.  I should probably pick one up because they seem to be very useful.

Killer Dream Home is Lifetime at its best!

Lifetime Film Review: InstaPsycho (dir by Nick Everhart)


Social media!  It’s murder!

That seems to be the main message behind Instapsycho, a Lifetime film that is designed to appeal to the fear of every mother who worries that her daughter is spending too much time online.  It takes place at a high school divided by social media.  Who do you follow?  Who do you listen to?  Who gets your likes and your retweets and your shares?  Is it Sasha (Kara Royster), who is rich and popular and who seems to have her entire life ahead of her?  Or is it Kelly (Makenzie Vega), who dresses in all black and has a sarcastic wit and who owns a #NoFilters t-shirt?

Me, I would probably follow Kelly because, when I was in high school, I used to dress in all black and I wrote a lot of emo poetry and I tended to toss out random quotes from books that I hadn’t read, all in an effort to make myself seem even smarter than I was.  That said, I don’t think that I would be totally supportive of some of the things that Kelly does to win more followers.

For instance, Kelly poisons her stepfather and then does a video about suicide awareness, one that goes viral and wins her a lot of new fans.  And it’s true that Kelly’s stepfather was a total perv who totally deserved to die but still, I don’t know if I would risk getting sent to prison for murder just to go viral.  I know a lot of people disagree with me on that but …. no, no murders for me.

Of course, Sasha remains a threat to Kelly.  “She’s using your own hashtag against you!” someone announces at one point.  Even after Kelly manages to get all the cheerleaders to do a special “You suck, Sasha” cheer during lunch, it still appears that Kelly might need to do something extra to hold onto her social media crown.  Fortunately, Kelly has plenty of other friends she could kill.

That’s bad news for Maddie (Laura Wiggins), who is Kelly’s best friend. Maddie’s a bit disturbed by Kelly’s new evil side but you have to do what you have to do….

As I said at the start of this review, InstaPsycho is specifically designed to appeal to mothers who, when they’re not watching Lifetime movies, are worrying about what their children are doing online.  This is a good example of a “Social Media is the Devil” type of film but it never descends into Reefer Madness territory, largely because social media actually is the devil.  Plus — and this is key — InstaPsycho actually has a sense of humor about itself.  It may be campy but it’s deliberately campy.

I loved Makenzie Vega’s devilish performance as Kelly.  She rips through the film like a tornado and it’s a lot of fun to watch.  In fact, despite the film’s warnings about what too much social media does to people, you actually kind of find yourself hoping the best for Kelly.  When she points out that her online life is the only thing that she basically has, she does have a point.  Though she may have taken things a bit too far by killing people, it’s hard not to have a little bit of sympathy for her.

InstaPsycho!  Watch it the next time you’re tempted to post or like something just for the clout.

Lifetime Film Review: Killer Competition (dir by Andrew Lawrence)


I was not valedictorian of my high school.

I’ve always thought that was a bit unfair, to be honest.  I mean, I was clearly the smartest person in my graduating class but my grades didn’t always reflect that.  Now, admittedly, I went through some stuff in the 9th and the 10th grades and basically, I was like a C student for those two years but that wasn’t really my fault.  I just wasn’t trying.  All of my teachers told me that I would be their top student if I would just do my homework and maybe study for a test or two.  My grades improved during my junior year of high school.  If it was an English or a history class, I never got anything less than an A.  I got A’s in all of my electives.  It was the math and the science classes that would drag me down.  I never cared about either subject and, to be honest, I probably would have never gotten a passing grade in any of my math classes if not for the fact that my sister was a year ahead of me and she saved all of her tests.  I’m not saying that cheating was the right thing to do but …. well, I guess I am saying that.  But anyway, my point is that it was a little but unfair to make me take all of those math and science classes because those just weren’t my thing and, if not for them and if my grades from the 9th and the 10th grade hadn’t been factored into the equation, I would have had a 4.0+ and I could have given the greatest graduation speech in history.

That said, I pretty much knew that I wasn’t going to be anywhere near the top ten of my high school graduating class and I was okay with that.  I wasn’t planning on going to an Ivy League school.  To be honest, for most of high school, I wasn’t even planning on going to college.  I was going to take a leap year or two and go to Europe.  (My mom compromised and allowed me to go to Europe for the summer on the condition that I go to college in the fall.)  For the most part, I think I had a pretty good attitude about things.

Unfortunately, the characters in Killer Competition do not have a similar attitude.  Nicole (Jacqueline Scislowski) is obsessed with becoming valedictorian so that she can get into her dream college.  Complicating things is that super smart Victor (Philip McElroy) has applied to the same school and apparently, only 300 students are accepted and it’s rare that the college ever accepts two students from the same high school.  If Nicole is going to go to a good college and end up with a crippling amount of debt, she’s going to have to prevent Victor from becoming valedictorian.  But how!?  Nicole’s friend Sarah (Cristine Prosperi) suggests that Nicole break into the school and substitute Victor’s A test paper with a B test paper.  It’s always good to have a friend like Sarah!  Anyway, needless to say, that is all leads to secrets, lies, and murder.  It’s a Lifetime film.

I really liked Killer Competition.  It embraces the melodrama and, most importantly, it seems to be in on the joke.  Killer Competition doesn’t waste any time going over the top as Nicole and Sarah somehow manage to pull off one of the most absurdly complicated schemes in the history of high school.  Cristine Prosperi, who you may recognize from Degrassi, has a lot of fun with the role of Sarah, playing her as a cheerful force of chaos and destruction.  Killer Competition is a lot of fun and definitely one to watch the next time you’re wondering how far you would go to get into Harvard or Yale.

Lifetime Film Review: Secrets In The Basement (dir by Stanley Rowe)


Secrets In The Basement brought to mind two old sayings.

Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Delilah (Melina Bartzokis) wants to live in a big, nice house that was designed by a famous architect and that’s exactly what happens when she and her husband, Shawn (Nick Cassidy), move into a  gigantic home that was designed by the famous Jay Christo.  The house is a smart house, which means that you can tell it what to do.  “House, lock the doors.”  “House, lower the temperature.”  “House, prepare breakfast.”  “House, play something by Saint Motel while I get ready for my day.”  “House, turn on the shower.”  You get the idea.

The only problem appears to be that the house doesn’t have a basement.  Delilah is really upset about living in a house without a basement.  Living in North Texas, I could not relate.  We don’t have basements around these parts and we’ve always done just fine without them.

Still, Delilah gets over her basement worries when she goes to a hardware store and just happens to run into Jay Christo (Micah McNeil)!  Does it make sense that a world famous architect would shop at a local hardware store?  Well, I guess he has to shop somewhere.  It’s obvious that he’s an artist because he wears a red suit.  Soon, Jay is hanging out with Delilah and telling her that it’s important to be the hammer and not the nail.

Despite Jay’s good advice, Delilah is still haunted by nightmares.  It also seems like there’s something strange happening in the house, almost as if someone is deliberately doing stuff just to make her think that she’s losing her mind.  Could it maybe be the mysterious masked man who is living in the basement that the house actually does have despite Delilah and Shawn being told that no such basement exists!?

Who is the masked man?  To be honest, there’s absolutely no suspense as to who the masked man is.  He has a tattoo on his wrist and another character has the exact same tattoo and there you go.  Seriously, shame on you if you can’t guess the identity of that masked man.

But why is the masked man trying to make Delilah think that she’s going crazy?  What is the deep, dark secret that haunts Delilah’s past?  Watch the film to find out, I guess.

Anyway, this film stayed true to my number one rule for Lifetime films.  No matter what else happens, the film must take place in a nice house.  And indeed, the house in Secrets in the Basement is impressive.  That said, I don’t think I could live in a smart house.  I would be way too worried about the house arguing with me about politics or something.  What if I accidentally got a smart house that thought it was smarter than it was?

That said, the house looked great and Melina Bartzokis did a good job playing up Delilah’s nervousness.  I think I would have liked the film a bit more if there had been a bit more suspense about who the masked man actually was.  His identity was way too obvious and his motivations were a bit predictable as well.  Still, if nothing else, this film made me glad that I don’t have a basement.