Lifetime Film Review: A Murder to Remember (dir by Robin Givens)

There’s been a murder.  Or has there?

Two people emerge from the wilderness, both with a story to tell.  Sam Turner (T.C. Matherne) lives in the backwoods.  He’s a country boy, right down to his accent and the gun that he carries with him.  He’s the type who can lead you to the best places to fish but he gives off a vibe that says that you don’t want to turn your back on him for too long.  Accompanying Sam is Robin (Maddie Nichols), a young woman who appears to be shell-shocked.  They’ve spent the last few days in the woods.  Sam claims that he’s been caring for and protecting Robin as they made their way back to civilization.  Robin …. well, Robin doesn’t quite seem to remember exactly what’s been going on.

What both Sam and Robin both agree on is that Robin’s husband, Javier (Kevin Rodriguez), is dead.  Javier and Robin were celebrating their first anniversary by going on a camping trip.  Javier was an experienced camper.  Robin was not.  When Sam approached them and offered to show them the best place to fish, they followed him deeper into the forest.  According to Sam, he accidentally took a wrong turn and got them lost but is he telling the truth?

Sam says that he accidentally shot Javier.  At first, Robin backs up his story but later she says that Sam actually murdered Javier in cold blood and then proceeded to brainwash the shocked Robin to such an extent that Robin couldn’t remember what was true.  Sheriff Watkins (Leslie Hendrix) is inclined to believe Robin over Sam.  However, things are complicated when the two of them each take a polygraph test.  Sam passes.  Robin does not.

So, is Sam telling the truth?  Sam may have passed the polygraph but he’s so obviously sleazy that it’s hard to believe that he didn’t intentionally kill Javier.  Was Robin in on the murder or is she suffering from the after effects of Stockholm Syndrome, the phenomena in which the victim of an abduction will come to trust and, at the times, even help their abductor?

Based on a true story, A Murder To Remember makes it pretty clear from the start who is to be trusted and who isn’t.  Sam is obviously guilty and Robin is obviously telling the truth but, for most of the movie, there’s no way to prove any of it.  Unfortunately, because the truth is so obvious, the film is never as suspenseful as it could be.  Instead of trying to figure out what actually happened, the viewer instead just waits for Sam to finally slip up.  It takes a while as this is a rather slow movie, especially by the usually quick paced standards of Lifetime.

The film is at its best when it’s in the wilderness.  The film does a good job of capturing just how frightening it can be to be lost when there’s no hint of civilization anywhere around.  Maddie Nichols does a great job of capturing the fear that any of us would feel in her situation.  She’s not even an experienced camper and now, suddenly, her husband is dead and she’s going to have to depend on her husband’s murderer to survive.  That would be enough to send anyone into a state of shock and Nichols effectively portrays the gradual process that leads to Robin remembering what actually happened to Javier.

A Murder To Remember was uneven but, if nothing else, it reminded me of why I don’t go camping.

Lifetime Film Review: Abducted On Air (dir by Philippe Gagnon)

Whenever I find myself in need of motivation, I remember the words of Britney Spears:

You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti?
You want a Maserati? You better work bitch
You want a Lamborghini? Sippin’ martinis?
Look hot in a bikini? You better work bitch
You wanna live fancy? Live in a big mansion?
Party in France?
You better work bitch, you better work bitch
You better work bitch, you better work bitch
Now get to work bitch!
Now get to work bitch!

As my fellow TSL writers can tell you, there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t, at some point, shout out, “Get to work, bitch!”  And while that habit has occasionally gotten me a few strange looks around the office, it definitely works.  For instance, I didn’t know if I’d have the strength to write 24 film reviews in one day.  I didn’t even know if it was worth the trouble.  But I just thought to myself, “You better work, bitch!”

Unfortunately, that technique doesn’t work for everyone.  Abducted on Air is about Sasha Bruder (Kim Shaw), a television news reporter who wants to make it to the top without actually having to actually earn it through hard work.  Unfortunately, even though she has an on-air job at a local news station, it doesn’t seem like she’s heading anywhere.  Her boss, Gavin (Bruce Dinsmore), doesn’t respect her and lead anchor Diane Baldwin (Perry Reeves) is the one who gets all the attention.

But then, one day, Sasha does not come into work.  An investigation reveals that she was apparently abducted from the station and that her kidnapping was caught on video!  For days, Sasha and her disappearance dominates the news.  Where is Sasha Bruder and can she be rescued in time?

Of course, what the public doesn’t know is that Sasha set up her own kidnapping and is currently hanging out in a warehouse.  Even though she insists that her co-worker, lover, and collaborator, Aidan Ferguson (Gord Rand), actually blindfold her and tie her up, that’s just so she’ll be able to bring some authenticity to her story when she eventually resurfaces.

Eventually, Sasha does decide to leave the warehouse.  She emerges with a harrowing tale about how she was abducted and everything that she’s been through over the past couple of days.  Sasha becomes a celebrity and is promoted to co-anchor of the morning newscast.  Diane is not particularly happy about that but Gavin doesn’t care.  All Gavin cares about are ratings and Sasha’s bringing them in.

However, faking a kidnapping is not as easy as it may look.  When it looks like the truth about Sasha’s abduction might finally be revealed, Sasha has no choice but to take matters into her own hands….

I enjoyed Abducted On Air.  Admittedly, a lot of that had to do with the fact that I tend to distrust television journalism,  (In many ways, this was a film that seemed like it was specifically designed to appeal to my every bias.)  This is a film about people obsessively trying to climb to the top of one of the the most superficial professions in existence and the fact that everyone in the movie is so obsessed with finding success in a dying industry actually gave Abducted On Air a bit of a satirical edge.  Perrey Reeves and Kim Shaw both gave good performances as the two rival journalists, making this film a fun one to watch whenever you want to imagine what’s going on behind the scenes of your local news broadcast.

Lifetime Film Review: A Predator’s Obsession: Stalker’s Prey 2 (dir by Colin Theys)

Look who’s back!

At the end of the 2017 Lifetime film, Stalker’s Prey, it appeared the psycho Bruce had been eaten by a shark.  Normally, that’s not a fate that I wish on anyone but Bruce ….. well, Bruce really was a psycho.  In fact, Bruce even fed several people to the sharks so it seemed kinda appropriate that a shark would eventually take him out.  Like a lot of Lifetime movie psychos, Bruce was also the obsessive type.  He was the type who would save your life (after, of course, arranging the accident that put you in danger in the first place) and then decide that you belonged to him.  Bleh.  Go, shark, go!

However, amazingly enough, Bruce apparently survived that shark attack.  A Predator’s Obsession finds Bruce — now known as Daniel and played by Houston Stevenson — working at a local marina.  He looks a bit different now, which I guess would make sense after everything that he’s been through.  He’s got a few scars from being attacked by that shark but he also has all of his limbs.  Most importantly, Bruce still loves sharks and they apparently love him.  I guess it makes sense, seeing as how he’s named after the shark that starred in Jaws.

When Bruce saves a child named Kevin (Brayson Goss) from a shark, the media proclaims him a hero.  Kevin’s family invites Bruce over for dinner.  When they find out that Bruce has just gotten kicked out of his apartment and doesn’t have anywhere to live, they open their house to him.  It’s supposed to only be a temporary thing but Bruce has no intentions of leaving.  Bruce has fallen for Kevin’s older sister, Alison (Julia Blanchard).  Despite the fact that her rich, no-good boyfriend, Carson (Jackson Dockery), is not happy about her living with another man, Alison tries to make Bruce comfortable.  She even sets Bruce up on a date with her fun-loving best friend, Rhiannon (Sarah Wisser).

(It wouldn’t be a Lifetime film without a fun-loving best friend!)

However, Bruce is only interested in Alison and you know what that means.  It’s time for Bruce to start feeding people to the sharks.  It’s kind of sad, really.  Bruce is handsome, charming, athletic, and he’s a good swimmer.  It seems like he should be able to get a date without having to resort to feeding people to sharks.  But I guess Bruce has his issues and, as a result, he never really got beyond the “feed my enemies to wild animals” stage of personal growth.

I absolutely loved Stalker’s Prey and I enjoyed the sequel as well.  The great thing about A Predator’s Obsession is that it doesn’t take itself seriously at all.  It fully embraces the shark-filled melodrama and the resulting action is just as over-the-top and joyfully outlandish as you could possibly hope for.  In the previous film, Bruce was content to just push people over the side of a boat.  In this film, he uses a crane to suspend someone over the water.  He traps another person in a cage.  The film understands that a good sequel has to be bigger than the original film and it’s so entertaining that I can’t wait for Stalker’s Prey 3.

I mean, with SyFy no longer showing original movies, there’s a whole lot of shark fans out there looking for a new home.  Go get ’em, Lifetime!

Lifetime Film Review: Deranged Granny (dir by Jennifer Liao)

Over the course of the last few years, Lifetime has been showing a lot of movies about psychotic grandmothers.

These movies usually follow the same pattern.  A woman, who is either divorced or widowed and who has at least two young children, meets a handsome man who doesn’t like to talk about his past.  After a whirlwind courtship, they get married.  Though it’s a struggle at first, the new blended family finally starts to come together.  Suddenly, the doorbell rings and …. IT’S GRANNY!

Where has grandma been?  Sometimes, she’s been in a mental hospital.  Sometimes, she’s been in jail.  Sometimes, she’s recently escaped from a retirement community.  The important thing is that she’s back and she’s suddenly ready to be a part of the family.  The kids lover her and her daughter-in-law feels threatened.  Everyone tells the new wife that she’s being paranoid and that grandma might be a little eccentric but she’s harmless.  However, the viewers know that the grandma is actually a psycho because we’ve seen her murder at least two people by the fourth commercial break.

The appeal of these films is pretty easy to understand.  It comes down to two things.

Number one, like many Lifetime films, it features a very universal fear at the heart of its melodrama.  Every parent worries about how they’re going to live up to (or, in some case, improve upon) the example of the grandparents.  Kids tend to love their grandparents, largely because they provide an escape from having to deal with mom and dad and all of their hangups about going to bed on time, not watching too much TV, and doing their homework.  The grandparents get all of the good parts of parenting without any of the bad parts, or so it seems.  Even more importantly, there’s always the fear that grandma is silently judging everything that her daughter-in-law is doing.  This is something that almost everyone can relate to.

Number two, these films always manage to find the best actresses to play grandma.  Usually, these are actresses who, because Hollywood is a terrible place, no longer seem to get the type of roles that they deserve.  In the tradition of Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in almost every film they made after Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?, these actresses usually give wonderfully over-the-top performances as the psycho grandma.

Wendie Malick is the latest actress to star as one of Lifetime’s psycho grandmas.  In Deranged Granny, she plays Barbara.  Barbara never really recovered from the death of her son’s first wife and her grandchild.  Now that Ethan (Josh Ventura) has remarried and has two stepchildren, Barbara is determined to be a part of their lives.  Unfortunately, Barbara’s new daughter-in-law, Kendall (Amanda Righetti), comes to feel that Barbara is trying to push her out of her family’s life.  Is Kendall being paranoid or is she correct in her suspicion that the main reason that Barbara is always cooking is because she’s obsessed with poisoning people?  You can probably guess the answer to that question by the fact that the movie is called Deranged Granny and not Deranged Daughter-in-Law.

Not surprisingly, the main reason to watch Deranged Granny is for the performance of Wendie Malick.  That we usually tend to associate Malick with comedic roles only makes it all the more effective when she suddenly starts poisoning everyone who looks at her the wrong way.  Even when she’s not specifically trying to kill people, Malick delivers all of her faux friendly lines with just the perfect amount of passive aggressive condescension.  What I especially liked about the film is that Barbara seemed to be having a lot of fun with her evil schemes.  She may have been the granny from Hell but she still came across like she would be the fun grandma as well.  Just don’t eat her cookies, especially if you have a food allergy.

Disgruntled Granny was a fun deranged grandma film.  Watch it the next time you feel like you’re being silently judged.

Lifetime Film Review: Poolboy Nightmare (dir by Rolfe Kanefsky)

After 10 minutes of watching Pool Boy Nightmare, I called Erin into the living room and I told her that, even though I don’t swim and I actually have a morbid fear of drowning, I felt we definitely needed to get a pool put into the backyard.

I mean, the film just made getting a pool look like such a brilliant idea.  Not only do you get an aesthetically pleasing addition to the exterior of your house but, once you get a pool, everyone suddenly wants to be your friend and, more importantly, they want to do stuff for you.  And, even though I don’t swim, I still enjoy going outside and pretending like I’m capable of getting a tan (I’m a redhead.  We burn but we don’t exactly tan) and I look cute in a  bikini so I could definitely get some use out of the pool while everyone else was splashing around.

Add to that, getting a pool apparently also meant getting a totally hunky pool boy, the type of guy who has a lot of tattoos and who has obviously just gotten out of prison so he’s got those hungry eyes going, if you know what I mean.

About an hour after watching the film, I called Erin back into the living room.  “We’re going to have to cancel getting the pool,” I told her.

“We weren’t getting one,” she told me.

“I don’t want it anymore.  Contact whoever you need to contact and tell them to rip up the contract because the pool’s been cancelled.”

“Uhmmm …. okay.”

Seriously, owning a pool is a lot of work!  Apparently, if you don’t keep it full of water, your best friend will show up in the middle of the night and and just walk right over the edge and end up breaking her leg.  Plus, if you put too much chlorine in the pool, someone could end up burning their skin and having to go to the hospital.  There’s also always the risk of a dead rat showing up in your filter.  And, of course, there’s the drowning risk.  It just seemed like too much.

Of course, in Poolboy Nightmare, the main problem with the pool was that Adam the pool boy (played by Tanner Zagarino) turned out to be a total psycho with a Norman Bates-style mother obsession.  Complicating things was that Adam ended up sleeping with Gale (Jessica Morris) and then dating Gale’s teenage daughter, Becca (Ellie Dacey-Alden)!  Gale knows that Adam is totally bad news but, if she tells Becca that, it’ll mean confessing that she slept with Becca’s boyfriend.  You can see how that might get awkward.

Anyway, Poolboy Nightmare is …. well, it’s alright.  It get a lot of entertaining mileage by playing into all of the stories that you hear about bored women in the suburbs who end up sleeping with their pool boy.  The film’s first third is fun, with its emphasis on Adam walking around shirtless and every woman in the house ogling him.  You almost expect to hear a 70s bassline on the soundtrack whenever anyone catches sight of him.  Once Adam goes psycho, the film becomes a standard stalker film where everyone is, unfortunately, required to do the stupidest thing possible.  Fortunately, there’s enough hints that the film is meant to be something of a parody that it remains entertaining until the final credits.

Seriously, though, don’t get a pool.  They’re dangerous.

Lifetime Film Review: Sinfidelity (dir by Tamar Halpern)

So, imagine that you’re living the life of Angela (Jade Tailor).

You’re married to a successful businessman.  You’ve got a nice house.  You’ve got attractive friends.  Really, you’ve got everything that most people are conditioned to want out of life.  And yet, you can’t shake your suspicion that something is not right.

Part of the problem is that your husband, Greg (Mark Jude Sullivan), has cheated in the past.  And even though he says that’s all in the past, it’s hard for you to trust him.  Your anniversary is approaching and Greg doesn’t appear to have made even the slightest of plans to celebrate it.  Instead, he’s spending all of his time at work.  Plus, you instinctively mistrust his assistant, Lisa (Caroline Cole).  Maybe you’re being silly but then again, deep down, you know that no one can resist someone named Lisa.

(That’s just the burden that we Lisas have to deal with.)

You notice that Lisa is wearing expensive earrings.  The next day, you find one of those earrings in your house.  You immediately decide that Greg and Lisa must be having an affair.

What do you do?  Do you file for divorce?  Do you change the locks and kick your husband out of the house?  Do you blow up his car?

Those are all good options but Angela decides that the best way to get back at Greg is to have an affair of her own.  She ends up hooking up with Franco (Aidan Bristow), a handsome photographer.  Angela does this despite the fact that Franco gives off obsessive stalker vibes from the minute that she meets him.  Then again, it’s not like Angela’s looking for a relationship.  Angela’s looking for revenge and you do strange things when you’re looking for revenge.  Still, I would have gotten out of Franco’s place as soon as I saw all of the pictures he had taken of a woman who superficially resembled me.  Franco claims that the pictures are of his sister, who died under mysterious circumstances years ago and …. yeah, it’s time to leave.

Still, Angela doesn’t leave.  She spends the night with Franco.  When she leaves the next morning and returns home to confront Greg, Grey can’t understand why she’s so upset.

“I know!” Angela says.

“About the trip to Italy?” Greg asks.

Yes, that’s right!  Greg was actually being a good husband.  He bought Angela earrings and a trip to Italy for their anniversary and he’s been working late to make sure that they would have enough money to afford it.  He had Lisa set up the trip and he also had her deliver the earrings.  Lisa thought it would be fun to wear the earrings before dropping them off which …. well, okay, that doesn’t make much sense but hey, whatever.  What’s important is that Greg is not cheating and that they’re going to Italy and their marriage is not in trouble!  Yay!

The only problem, of course, is that Angela’s already had a one night stand with Franco and Franco is not only obsessive but apparently a bit psychotic as well.  That means that Franco’s not just going to take no for an answer….

You can probably guess where all of this is heading.  This is a Lifetime film and any fan of Lifetime knows what happens when you get an obsessed stalker.  Sinfidelity doesn’t exactly break any new ground as far as Lifetime thrillers are concerned but Jade Tailor gives a good performance as Angela and the film opens with an genuinely creepy sequence that’s set at a roller disco.  Any film that features a roller disco is automatically going to be better than any film that doesn’t have a roller disco.  That’s always been my philosophy.

In the end, Sinfidelity has a worthwhile message.  Don’t cheat on your spouse unless you have all the facts first.  Otherwise, your act of revenge might lead to you getting stalked by a psycho photographer.  Seriously, the more you know, right?

Lifetime Film Review: Psycho Escort (dir by Monika Lynn Wesley)

Psycho Escort is a film that epitomizes the concept of “It seemed like a good idea at the time.”

Put yourself in the shoes of Diane (Victoria Barabas).  She’s a widow and she’s still misses her husband so much that she can’t even bring herself to sleep in the master bedroom.  Instead, she sleeps in the guest bedroom, an exile in her own house.  She’s a single mother, trying to raise a young son who regularly comes home from school with a black eye.  On top of all that, she’s got a job that demands a lot of her time and she works with a bunch of people who are just waiting to stab her in the back.

But, it’ll all be worth it if she gets the big promotion and becomes a partner in the firm.  With a promotion, she’ll finally be making enough money to provide a little bit of security for her son.  And if that means that she has to miss an occasional soccer game and that she doesn’t get a chance to date much, so be it.

The only problem is that, in order to get that promotion, she’s going to have to suck up to the boss and that means going to company parties.  And showing up at those parties without a date would totally make her look like a boring loser.  Her sister has a helpful suggestion, though.  Why not hire an escort!?

No, not that type of escort!  Apparently, there’s a rent-a-date firm.  You send them some money and they send you a handsome man who will pretend to be your date or your boyfriend and who will basically charm everyone in your social circle and totally make all of your friends jealous.  Even though Diane is skeptical, she finally agrees to give them a call.  I mean, it seems like a good idea at the time.  They send over Miles (Nick Ballard).

At first, Miles seems perfect.  He’s charming.  He’s handsome.  Diane’s boss likes him and even invites him to play a round of golf.  In fact, Miles is such a hit that, when Diane has to go to another party, she calls the firm and requests Miles a second time.  Diane starts to open to Miles about her husband’s death.  Miles starts to open up about his wife’s death.  Soon, Miles is becoming more than just an escort.  Soon, he’s becoming a real boyfriend….

The only problem of course is that …. well, it’s right there in the title.  Miles is a psycho escort!  And soon, Miles is becoming just a bit obsessed with Diane, to the point that he’s willing to commit murder to prove his love….

Well, you know how it goes.  This is a Lifetime movie and, as I’ve said countless times, the fact that these films all follow a certain formula is one of the most likable things about them.  There’s something comforting about watching these films and knowing that someone is making a huge mistake that you would never make (except, of course, you totally would if you were in Diane’s situation).  Psycho Escort is elevated by the performance of Nick Ballard, who is dangerously likable in the role of Miles.  It’s easy to see how someone could fall for Miles and, as a result, Diane doesn’t come across as being as naive or willfully blind as one might expect.  Victoria Barabas also gives a very good performance as Diane and is especially effective when she’s talking about the death of her husband.  The trauma is obviously still with her and has left her vulnerable to someone like Miles.  As a result, you don’t quite roll your eyes as much at Diane as you might at some people who let a total stranger into their life.  There’s a reality to her situation that elevates the story.

Psycho Escort.  Watch it the next time you’re tempted to rent a date.


Lifetime Film Review: Killer Daddy Issues (dir by Danny J. Boyle)

“What a nice ranch!” I thought as I watched the opening scenes of Killer Daddy Issues.

Listen, I live in Texas.  I’ve grown up all over the Southwest.  I’ve seen a lot of really nice ranches and I’ve seen a lot of really mediocre ranches and the ranch in Killer Daddy Issues is definitely a nice one.  The scenery is green and bountiful.  The hills are covered with beautiful trees.  There’s a big river nearby.  Majestic horses run across the fields.  This is the type of ranch that you definitely want to visit.  Unfortunately, even the best ranches have their issues.

This ranch is currently owned by Grace (Carolyn McCormick) and her daughter, Carrie (Jillian Murray).  They inherited it and a good deal of money after the death of Grace’s husband.  However, a new man has entered Grace’s life.  Carrie is shocked when Grace returns from a five-day cruise with a new husband!  Reed (Chris Riggi) is handsome and charming and young enough to be Carrie’s brother.  Carrie takes an immediate distrust to Reed.  Despite Reed assuring her that he’s already independently wealthy and that he doesn’t have a criminal record, Carrie is convinced that Reed is only after her mother’s money.  Carrie’s suspicions are not eased when Grace is seriously injured during a riding accident.

Meanwhile, Sofia (Kristina Reyes) has made a shocking discovery.  She and her mother both work at the ranch and, while Carrie treats them with superficial respect, it’s still obvious that there’s a world of difference between their lives and the lives of Grace and Carrie.  When Sofia discovers that her father was Grace’s husband and that she’s actually Carrie’s half-sister, she’s not happy at all.  She’s been cheated out of the ranch that she views as her birthright.

Meanwhile, someone is wandering around the ranch with a rifle, taking shots at people.  Hmmm …. I wonder if that could have anything to do with all the other stuff that’s going on at the ranch?

Needless to say, there’s a lot going on in this movie.  Not only do you have a mysterious new husband who might be a murderous gold digger but you also have the issue of Sofia’s paternity.  One thing that really struck me about this film was just how unlikable Carrie and Grace are.  Even though they’re the main characters, both of them seem to be a bit too secure in their positions.  In the beginning, at least, Sofia is a far more sympathetic character because she does have a legitimate complaint.  She had been denied what rightfully should belong to her.  It’s a bit subversive actually.  Even though Carrie and Grace are presented as being the protagonists, it’s clear that the audience’s sympathy is meant to go to Sofia.

Anyway, this one is okay.  It crams three hours worth of plot into a 90-minute runtime and, as a result, the film does occasionally seem to be a bit overstuffed.  There’s a lot to keep up with.  But the ranch is gorgeous and Kristina Reyes gives an excellent performance as Sofia.  This is a good movie to watch on a weekend afternoon.


Lifetime Film Review: Beware of Mom (dir by Jeff Hare)

Okay, I absolutely love this movie.

When Anna (Cystal Allen) loses her husband and one of her daughters, all in one night, it doesn’t do much for her state of mind.  Even though the official report is that the fire that killed them was due to a gas link, this is a Lifetime movie and that means that they had to have been murdered.  And since the name of this movie is Beware of Mom, it doesn’t take a lot of effort to figure out that Anna must be responsible.  However, she didn’t mean to kill her daughter.  Sometimes, you’re just trying to murder your husband and these things happen.

Anyway, Anna and her remaining daughter, teenage Jessie (Monica Rose Betz), move to another suburb and try to start their life over.  Anna is one of those moms who is determined to be the “cool mom.”  She’s friends with musicians.  She has thousands of followers on social media.  She throws big parties at her house and encourages Jessie to stay out late with her friends.

Her new neighbor, Tanya (Rene Ashton), is not a cool mom.  In fact, Tanya is an extremely overprotective, controlling mom who is determined to make sure that her daughter, 16 year-old Kylie (Nicolette Langley), is not led down the wrong path.  She expects her daughter to not date, to not dress provocatively, to not post pictures of herself online, and to not stay out late.  Needless to say, Tayna is not happy about having Anna living next door, especially after Kyle and Jessie become friends and Anna starts to encourage Kylie to rebel.

Soon, Kylie is going to parties, posing online, and making out with a 34 year-old musician!  Tanya tells Anna to stay away from her daughter.  However, Anna is not one to take orders and she also knows both how to fake a break-in and how to poison someone in such a way as to make it appear as if they’ve had a heart attack.

Beware of Mom, indeed.

As I said at the start of this review, I absolutely loved this movie.  The plot is just so melodramatic and Anna is just such an entertainingly over-the-top villain that it was impossible not to love it.  I mean, to a certain extent, anyone watching this film will be able to relate.  I think everyone went through a period where they felt like their mom wasn’t giving them enough freedom or was being overprotective.  Everyone was jealous of the girl who had the mom who apparently let her do whatever she wanted.  This is a film that acknowledges that our jealousy was understandable and then goes on to explain that the reason why the cool mom let her daughter get away with everything was because she was an insane murderer who wanted to kidnap her daughter’s best friend.  It’s so crazy that you can’t help but love it.

It helps that Crystal Allen really dug into the role of Anna.  Whether she was murdering a stranger or encouraging underage drinking, Anna seemed to believe that all of her action were very reasonable and she seemed to be genuinely bewildered that anyone would object.  Allen was well-supported by the performances of the rest of the cast, especially Monica Rose Betz as her conflicted daughter.  It all added up to the type of suburban melodrama that we can all embrace.

Lifetime Film Review: His Fatal Fixation (dir by Stuart Acher)

His Fatal Fixation tells the story of Lilly Abrams, a woman who discovers that not even changing her name can ensure her safety.

Lilly (played by Sarah Fisher) is a physician’s assistant.  When we first meet her, she’s getting ready for a date with the handsome and successful Jason.  However, that date is interrupted by the sudden arrival of Spencer (Stephane Garneau-Monten), Lilly’s stalker.  According to Lilly, she and Spencer went on one date and Spencer has been following her around ever since.  He claims that he just wants to protect her but it’s obvious that the only person that Lilly needs to be protected from is him.

Since Spencer’s arrival ruins dinner, Lilly and Jason go back to her place and order a pizza.  Unfortunately, when there’s a knock at the door, it’s not the deliveryman.  Instead, it’s Spencer!  Spencer promptly stabs Jason to death and, after slashing Lilly’s face, he ends up falling out of a window.  It appears that Spencer’s dead but …. is he?

A few months later, Lilly is trying to rebuild her life.  She’s moved to a new city.  She’s changed her name to Stella Gordon.  She takes medication to help deal with her PTSD.  And, after visiting a plastic surgery clinic, she even manages to get rid of the nasty scar that Spencer previously left on her face.  The folks at the clinic like her so much that they give her a job.  Soon, Stella is even having an adulterous affair with her boss.  You know that you’ve made it once you start cheating with a married man.

Still, Stella is haunted by her past.  She has frequent nightmares and sometimes, she swears that she can feel Spencer watching her.  But isn’t Spencer dead?  Stella knows that he certainly looked like he was dead after he fell out of the window but how can she be sure?

Strange things start happening.  Someone sends her a dozen lilies, just like Spencer used to do.  People die mysteriously.  Is Spencer back or is Stella losing her mind?  While Stella wrestles with that question, she also grows close to a heavily bandaged patient named Joshua.  Soon, Joshua will be removing the bandages and he’s specifically requested that Stella be there to see his repaired face….

His Fatal Fixation is an enjoyably over-the-top melodrama from Canada.  It’s the type of film where it’s best not to worry too much about the plot.  Sure, there’s all types of plot holes and the film’s characters don’t always act in the most logical or reasonable of ways.  But if you treat the film as the cinematic equivalent of a trashy, sex-filled novel, it’s a lot of fun.  The director even manages to craft some genuinely creepy dream sequences.

Sarah Fisher has appeared in a lot of these films and she does a pretty good job of capturing both Stella’s fear and her hope that she’s actually found a new life, away from her stalker.  Before she became a Lifetime mainstay, Sarah Fisher played Becky Baker on Degrassi.  One of the things that I love about Lifetime films is that they often provide a chance to check in on how my favorite Degrassi cast members are doing.  (Since many Lifetime films are Canadian productions, it’s not surprising to that they tend to be full of Degrassi alumni.)  Fisher is not the only former Degrassite to appear in His Fatal Fixation.  Cory Lee, who played Ms. Oh on the series, also has a small but important role.

His Fatal Fixation is an enjoyable Canadian thriller.  See it with someone who isn’t stalking you.