Lifetime Movie Review: Suburban Swingers Club (dir by Jessica Janos)


If you’ve seen enough Lifetime films, you know that it’s never a good idea to move to the suburbs.

I mean, sure.  Inevitably, you’ll end up living in a big house.  And you’ll have all the closet space in the world.  And your neighbors will all be really sexy and witty and they’ll always invite you over to have a glass of wine and gossip about everyone’s deep, dark secrets.  I mean, it sounds like a great idea but things never work out as well as they should.

For example, just check out the latest Lifetime movie, Suburban Swingers Club.

Everything you need to know about the film is right there in the title.  It takes place in the suburbs.  There’s a club.  And they’re all swingers.  And when I say swingers, I mean they’re real swingers.  They’re not like Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally in those annoying Sling commercials.  No, these are people who get together and toss their house keys into a punch bowl.  Each night, keys are randomly drawn and neighbors go upstairs together.  Of course, only the really wealthy and attractive neighbors get to take part.  For instance, there’s this old guy who is occasionally seen standing out in his front yard.  He never gets invited.

As soon as Lori (Dana Davis) and Grant (Jesse Ruda) move into the neighborhood, they’re invited to join the club.  Grant is immediately intrigued while Lori is immediately weirded out by the whole idea.  In fact, Lori thinks that Grant might just be looking for an excuse to have an affair.  Their marriage has been rocky ever since the death of their baby.  However, then Lori catches sight of the neighbor across the road, doing manly stuff without his shirt on.  In fact, Noah (James William O’Halloran) doesn’t even seem to own a shirt!  Lori eventually tells Grant that they can swing as long as 1) they’re totally honest about it, 2) they think about each other while having sex with other people, and 3) they stop doing it as soon as one of them objects.  Grant’s like, “That’s a lot of rules but as long as I get laid, I’m happy.”

However, it doesn’t take long until Grant’s no longer happy.  Lori ends up pulling Noah’s key and soon Grant is getting jealous.  Grant says that he’s exercising his right to say “stop.”  Lori explains the situation to Noah and Noah is like, “Well, no one told me about any rules!”  Soon, Noah is stalking Lori and Grant is threatening to kill him.  Of course, when Noah turns up dead, Grant automatically becomes the number one suspect….

Unfortunately, this film doesn’t feature quite as much swinging as I was expecting.  It doesn’t take long for Grant to get jealous and exercise his “stop” option and after that, the film becomes a fairly typical Lifetime stalking film.  But no matter.  I still enjoyed Suburban Swingers Club, if just because the film didn’t waste anytime plunging into its story of suburban melodrama.  This is one of those films where your new neighbors come over, take one look at you, and then invite you to join a swinger’s club.  Lori can’t even look out of her bedroom window without seeing two people having sex across the street and, once morning comes, it’s time for Noah to start casually walking around outside without his shirt on.  Suburban Swingers Club is like the Lifetime version of one of those wonderfully campy 60s sexploitation films where bored housewives seduce the pool cleaner and the whole thing is written, directed, and acted with just enough self-awareness to let us know that the film is cheerfully aware of its excesses.  It’s a lot of fun, as any swinging club should be.  Joe Sarno would be proud.

Lifetime Film Review: Saving My Baby (dir by Michael Feifer)


Poor baby Lilly!

She’s only a few weeks old and her life is already all drama all the time!

First off, Lilly was born slightly premature, shortly after her mother, Sarah (Brianne Davis), was involved in a serious and suspicious auto accident.  Then, while her mother is still in a coma, her father, Travis (Jon Prescott), decides to take Lilly and run off to Palm Springs with her.  Accompanying Travis is his overprotective mother, Virginia (Kathleen Quinlan) and Jessica (Tonya Kay), who just happens to be the friend who introduced Sarah to Travis in the first place.  Speaking of just being friends, that’s what Travis swears that he and Jessica are but we all know that’s not the case.  We know this because this is a Lifetime film and it’s rare that anyone’s ever just a friend in the world of Lifetime.  Of course, Sarah’s parents and her sister object to Travis taking the baby to Palm Springs but what can they do?  He’s the father.

Of course, eventually, Sarah wakes up and she’s like, “Where’s my baby?”  When she hears that Lilly has been taken to Palm Springs, she quickly calls up Travis and demands to know what’s going on.  Travis assures Sarah that his mother is looking after Lilly and promises that they’ll return the following morning.  Sarah then hears Jessica talking in the background.

“IS JESSICA THERE!?”  Sarah asks.

Travis, not surprisingly, doesn’t have a quick answer for that.

As should already be obvious, there was a lot more to Sarah and Travis’s whirlwind romance than just love.  Unlike the attempted murder, the baby was never a part of the plan.  However, now that Lilly’s been born, Travis definitely wants to keep her.  Jessica, meanwhile, is concerned about how much Sarah and her family are willing to pay for the return of Baby Lilly….

Kidnapped children are pretty much a staple plot point when it comes to Lifetime movies.  That really shouldn’t be surprising.  The most effective Lifetime films are the ones that deal, however melodramatically, with real-life fears and what could be more scary than the thought of losing your baby?  Whereas other mothers in Lifetime kidnapping films at least get to spend some time with their child before the abduction happens, Sarah wakes up to discover that her baby has been taken to another city.  When she desperately asks her sister for information of how the baby looked before she was taken away, it’s a moment of intense emotional honesty.

Saving My Baby is a bit unique among Lifetime kidnapping films in that it actually spend more time with the kidnappers than with the family of the kidnapped.  Don’t get me wrong.  Sarah is a sympathetic character and Brianne Davis does a good job playing her but the film is far more interested in Jessica, Travis, and Virginia.  As played by Jon Pescott, Travis spend most of his screentime wearing the haunted expression of someone who knows that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life.  Not only does he have his wife angry at him but his mother won’t stop telling him that he’s a terrible father and his girlfriend keeps demanding that he get rid of both his mother and his daughter.  Kathleen Quinlan does a great jon, keeping you guessing about Virginia.  You’re never quite sure how much she knows about what Travis and Jessica are planning.  However, the film is totally stolen by Tonya Kay, who is like a force of destructive nature in the role of Jessica.  Jessica may be evil but you can’t help but sympathize with her frustration at times.  I mean, everyone around her is just so incompetent!

Saving My Baby is an entertaining Lifetime kidnapping film.  Wisely, the film eventually moves the action to Las Vegas, which is the perfect location for the movie’s melodrama.  For the film’s finale, Saving My Baby makes good use of the Nevada desert, with the desolation perfectly capturing the feeling of hopelessness that Sarah’s been feeling ever since the disappearance of her daughter.  It all leads to gunfire and tears and hopefully, a lesson learned about letting your no-good son-in-law take your granddaughter to Palm Springs.  We can only hope.

2018 In Review: The Best of Lifetime


Today, I continue my look back at the previous year with my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2018!  Below, you’ll find my nominations for the best Lifetime films and performances of 2018!  Winners are starred and listed in bold!

(As a guide, I used the credits for the imdb.  If anyone has been miscredited or left out, please feel free to let me know and I’ll fix the error both here and, if I can, on the imdb as well.)

(For my previous best of Lifetime picks, click on the links: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017)

Best Picture

The Art of Murder, produced by Neil Elman, Bryce Fishman, James Lourie, Hannah Pillemer, Edgar Rosa, Fernando Szew

The Bad Seed, produced by Justis Greene, Harvey Kahn, Elizabeth Guber Stephen, Mark Wolper.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Produced by Mary Petryshyn, Charles Tremayne, Jeff Vanderwal

Cocaine Godmother, produced by Jamie Goehring, S. Lily Hui, Jonathan Koch, Stephen Michaels, Andrew Molina, Alisa Tager, Shawn Williamson.

Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, produced by David Manzaners and Judith Verno

*The Girl in the Bathtub, produced by Kevin Leeson, Emanuel Pereira, Diane Sokolow, Rachel Verno*

Girl in the Bunker, produced by Kim Bondi, Stephen Kemp, Thomas Vencelides

I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter.  Produced by Len Murach and Rick Van Meter.

No One Would Tell. Produced by Shawn Angeliski, Paddy Bickerton, Martin Fisher, Lisa Richardson, Danielle Von Zerneck

Terror in the Woods. Produced by David Eubanks, Les Franck, Adam Freeman, Leslie Greif, James Heerdegen, Ashley Hudson, Christina Ricci, Eric Tomonsanus, DJ Viola

Best Director

Jim Donovan for Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Gail Harvey for No One Would Tell

Seth Jarrett for I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Rob Lowe for The Bad Seed

*Karen Moncrieff for The Girl in the Bathtub*

Guillermo Navarro in Cocaine Godmother

Best Actor

Burgess Abernethy in Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance

Kevin Fonteyne in Lover in the Attic

Rob Lowe in The Bad Seed

Austin P. McKenzie in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill

*Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge*

Henry Thomas in The Girl in the Bunker

Best Actress

Haylie Duff in Deadly Delusion

McKenna Grace in The Bad Seed

Caitlin Stasey in The Girl In The Bathtub

Bella Thorne in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill

Megan West in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

*Catherine Zeta-Jones in Cocaine Godmother*

Best Supporting Actor

Juan Pablo Espinosa in Cocaine Godmother

David Fierro in Lover in the Attic

Joel Gretsch in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Patrick Muldoon in A Tale of Two Coreys

*Jason Patric in The Girl in the Bathtub*

Rossif Sutherland in Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey

Best Supporting Actress

Krista Allen in Party Mom

Cara Buono in The Bad Seed

Angela Kinsey in Terror in the Woods

*Lydia Look in Mistress Hunter*

Jenny Pellicer in Cocaine Godmother

Katherine Reis in I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter

Best Screenplay

The Bad Seed.  Barbara Marshall.

Believe Me: The Abudction of Lisa McVey. Christina Welsh.

Cocaine Godmother.  Molly McAlpine, David McKenna.

The Girl in the Bathtub. Karen Moncrieff.

*No One Would Tell. Caitlin D. Fryers*

Terror in the Woods. Amber Benson.

Best Cinematography

The Bad Seed. Peter Menzies, Jr.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Sasha Moric.

Cocaine Godmother. Guillermo Navarro.

Girl in the Bunker. Fraser Brown.

*I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter.  Brian J. Reynolds*

Terror in the Woods. David McGrory.

Best Costuming

*The Art of Murder. Steviee Hughes.*

Cocaine Godmother. Jori Woodman.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Claudia Da Ponte, Diah Wymont.

I Killed My BFF: The Peacher’s Daughter.  David Anthony Crowley.

Psycho Prom Queen.  Anie Fisette.

A Tale of Two Coreys.  Jennifer Garnet Filo.

Best Editing

The Bad Seed, Eric L. Beason.

Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey. Lisa Grootenboer.

Cocaine Godmother. Luis Carballar.

*Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill.  Henk van Eeghen*

The Girl in the Bathtub.

Girl in the Bunker.  Stephen Kemp.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Cocaine Godmother.  Laura Copó, Victoria Ferguson, Brittany Isaacs, Andrea Manchur, Joanna Mireau, Adam James Phillips, Trefor Proud, Juanita Santamaria, Ronnie Sidhu, Vicki Syskakis

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance.  Lorna Bravo, Helena Cepeda, Jenni Brown Greenberg, Shelly Jensen, Melissa Rankl, Cydney Sjostrom

I Killed My BFF: The Preacher’s Daughter. Missy Scarbrough and Christina Kim.

*Lover in the Attic. Crystal Broedel, Brittanie Cruz, Robin Styles, Diana Valerie, Nataleigh Verrengia*

A Tale of Two Coreys. Katherine Chandler, Lynnae Duley, Monique Hyman, Katie Kilkenny, Kaity Licina, Megan Nicoll, Rebecca Violet Schroeder, Adina Sullivan

Zombie at 17.  Jessica Awad, Cinthia Burke, Christine Capustinsky, Shannon Doyle.

Best Score

Cocaine Godmother. Eduardo Aram.

The Girl in the Bathtub.  Adam Gorgoni.

Lover in the Attic. Ozzy Doniz.

No One Would Tell. Mark Lazeski.

A Tale of Two Coreys. Jim Dooley.

*Terror in the Woods. Ozzy Doniz.*

Best Production Design

*The Art of Murder. Yana Veselova.*

Cocaine Godmother.  Eric Fraser.

The Girl in the Bathtub. Laura Lola Maier.

Girl in the Bunker. Andrew Berry.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance. Mayne Berke, Ashley Swanson, Vincent Wright

Lover in the Attic. Lindsay Glick.

Best Sound

Cocaine Godmother

*Deadly Delusion*

House of Darkness: New Blood

Killer Under The Bed

Lover in the Attic.

Terror in the Woods

Best Visual Effects

The Bad Seed.

Cocaine Godmother

Deadly Delusion

House of Darkness: New Blood

*Killer Under The Bed*

Zombie at 17

And those are my picks for the best of Lifetime in 2018!  (Lifetime had a pretty good year.)  Now, I’m off to make my selections for the best of SyFy 2018!  I’ll be back …. well, maybe not soon.  It took me about three hours to do my Lifetime post.  So, I’ll be back eventually.

Lisa Marie’s 2018 In Review:

  1. The 10 Worst Films of 2018

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: Seduced By My Neighbor (dir by Sam Irvin)


(I recorded Seduced By Neighbor off of Lifetime on November 11th, 2018.)

Awwww, what a happy couple!

That picture above is of Mike (Trevor St. John) and Sarah (Andrea Bogart) relaxing in Sarah’s hot tub.  Sarah’s a single mother who recently lost her husband in a traffic auto accident.  Mike is the self-appointed head of the neighborhood watch and he also recently lost his spouse in a tragic accident.  As soon as Sarah and her daughter, Allie (Sierra McCormick), moved into their new house, Mike introduced himself and made it a point to always drive by the house in his little golf cart and make sure that everything was safe.  How couldn’t Sarah fall in love with such a great, considerate guy?

Or, at least, that’s the way that Mike likes to imagine it.  See, that picture above is just Mike’s fantasy.  That’s the future that he imagines awaits him and Sarah.  What Mike doesn’t take into account is that, while Sarah appreciates his dedication to keeping the neighborhood safe, she’s not interested in being seduced by her neighbor.  Instead, she’s far more interested in Chris (Rocky Myers), the superhot fireman who comes by the house after one of Allie’s friends sets the kitchen on fire.

Realizing that he’s running the risk of losing his fantasy, Mike decides to take action.  He challenges Chris to a game of ping pong, one that quickly spirals out of control.  Mike may win the game but he’s such an obnoxious player that it certainly doesn’t make him look any more attractive in the eyes of …. well, just about anyone.

Well, if ping pong didn’t work, how about murder?

Yes, it turns out that Mike is a psycho.  That really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has ever watched a Lifetime film.  In the wold of Lifetime, your neighbor is always likely to turn out to be an obsessive psychopath.  The more friendly he is, the more likely it is that he’s filled your house with hidden cameras and that he’s spending all of his time watching you on his laptop.  We all know how these things work.

So, Seduced By My Neighbor may sound like a typical Lifetime film but, in general, I like Lifetime films so that wasn’t a problem for me.  Plus, Trevor St. John does a good job playing the psycho, making him friendly and creepy at the same time.  From the minute that Mike shows up, it’s obvious that there’s something a little bit off about him but, at the same time, you can understand how someone still struggling to recover from losing her husband could be taken in by someone who says that he just wants to make sure that everyone in the neighborhood is safe and happy.

And, finally, there’s that ping pong game.  Yes, I’m coming back to the ping pong game because it was definitely the highlight of the film.  Strutting around and yelling every time he scores a point, Mike becomes every dudebro that you’ve ever seen playing pool in a frat house.  Wisely, Chris just kind of smiles and lets Mike have his moment.  That scene was just so over the top and fun that it pretty much epitomized everything that you could want from a Lifetime film.

I won’t spoil it but Seduced By My Neighbor had a good ending, one that revolved around an earlier plot point that, until the final few minutes of the film, I thought the movie had merely abandoned.  It was a properly chilling moment, one that definitely felt appropriate for our paranoid age.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Nightmare Best Friend (dir by John Murlowski)


(I recorded Nightmare Best Friend off of Lifetime on December 29th.)

Everyone’s had that one best friend.

She was the one who gave you the courage to flirt with the hot ones and roll your eyes at the strange ones.  She was the one who taught you how to shoplift without getting caught.  She was there when you had your first drink and the first time you got high.  She was the first one you went to for advice.  She was the one that called when you needed to cry.  She was your sister in almost every way and you swore that the two of you would be best friends forever.

Then you graduated high school and you two drifted apart.  Sure, you’re Facebook friends and you follow each other on twitter and occasionally, you might exchange greetings and an inside joke but it’s not the same.  Usually, it’s a case that one of you has grown up while the other hasn’t.  One of you is busy adulting while the other is still living for the moment.  Though neither one of you admit it, your friendship has now become consumed with a mix of jealousy and barely concealed malice.  You want her life.  She wants your life.  It’s perhaps best that you live in separate states now.

And then one day, your former best friend shows up on your doorstep and all Hell breaks loose….

That’s the situation in which Katy (Rosslyn Luke) finds herself in Nightmare Best Friend.  Katy has a nice house, a nice life, and a nice family.  She’s living the ideal suburban lifestyle.  And then, one day, her old friend Gina (Jackie Moore) shows up.

At first, Katy is excited to see Gina.  They go back to their old high school and run through the hallways, screaming.  They talk about how wild they used to be.  Gina even tries to convince Katy to take part in a little shoplifting.  It’s all wonderful, until Gina’s boyfriend, Ray (Brandon Howell) shows up.  Katy takes an instant dislike to Ray.  (It probably has something to do with the knife that he’s always waving around.)  For his part, Ray doesn’t seem to care much for Katy either.  However, he needs Katy.  It turns out that Ray is a criminal and to pull off his latest scam, he’s going to require Katy to help him whether Katy wants to or not.

Nightmare Best Friend features two excellent lead performances from Rosslyn Luke and Jackie Moore and a convincingly menacing one from Brandon Howell.  Howell played Ray with just the right combination of bad boy charm and psychotic posturing.  You could understand why Gina fell for him, while at the same time also understanding why Gina would be too scared to defy him.  Even more importantly, the friendship between Gina and Katy felt real.  You could imagine that two of them actually being friends in high school but you could just as easily understand why they had eventually drifted apart.  Elevated by a trio of strong performances, Nightmare Best Friend is an enjoyable Lifetime melodrama.

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.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Killer Body (dir by David I. Strasser)


(I recorded Killer Body off of Lifetime on December 30th.)

Oh my God, this was a great movie!

Okay, so check this out.  Once upon a time, there was a medical student named Elizabeth (Lindsay Maxwell) who felt like she was being shunned and ignored by her classmates.  She had a crush on a doctor named Chris (Peter Benson) but Chris was in love with Katie Jones (Sunny Mabrey),  Eventually, Elizabeth ended up having a total melt down and was forced to drop out of medical school.  Elizabeth become obsessed with plastic surgery, hoping to make herself look perfect (which, in this case, meant looking more and more like Katie).  Now going by the name Liz Oakley, she goes from doctor to doctor, getting work done and then suing them for malpractice.  And if she can’t get your medical license taken away, she’ll just spray you with poison perfume.  Seriously, this film features 4 separate attacks by toxic perfume.

One day, Liz shows up at Katie’s office and, until Liz introduced herself, Katie doesn’t even recognize her.  Liz wants some minor work done and she claims that she’s been referred by one of Katie’s colleagues.  Of course, Liz soon proves herself to be just as unstable as you might expect someone who regularly murders people to be.  Soon, all Katie’s like, “I don’t want you as my patient anymore,” and Liz is like, “Fine, I’ll just destroy your life.”

Soon, Liz is showing up on a college campus and making a seriously awkward attempt to befriend Liz’s daughter.  Katie and Chris (whose brilliant medical career has been brought to an end by a stroke) take out a restraining order but there’s nothing in that order that can stop Liz from going to another, less ethical plastic surgeon and having more work done in her quest to be perfect and to look more like Katie.  Of course, when the surgery results in Liz having a barely noticeable scar on her chin, it’s not a good thing…

Obviously, the success of a film like this pretty much hinges on the actress who is cast as the stalker/psycho character and fortunately, Liz is played by Lindsay Maxwell.  Maxwell turns Liz into a force of  uncontrollable, narcissistic nature and one of the more entertaining aspects of the film is watching as Liz goes from smiling to screaming in just a matter of seconds.  On the one hand, Liz is a complete psycho but, on the other hand, who hasn’t wanted to be perfect and who hasn’t, at least once, thought about they would do to achieve that perfection?  Maxwell wisely adds just a bit of vulnerability to the character, making Liz a psycho to whom you can relate.  Sunny Mabrey and Peter Benson also contribute good performance but ultimately, the film is dominated by Lindsay Maxwell and her bottle of killer perfume.

Killer Body was a killer melodrama, exactly the type of movie that we watch Lifetime to see.  Between the murders and the intrigue and the attempts to fool Chris into committing adultery, this was a wonderfully entertaining look at just how far people will go to achieve perfection.