What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #215: Nobody Will Believe You (dir by Damian Romay)


Last night, I turned over to the Lifetime Movie Network and I watched Nobody Will Believe You (a.k.a. Pretty Little Victim).

Why Was I Watching It?

This was actually my second time to watch Nobody Will Believe You.  I also watched it back in July but, for whatever reason, I didn’t review it despite the fact that I enjoyed the film.  I guess I must have been busy or sick in July, who knows?  Anyway, when I saw that it was going to be airing on the Lifetime Movie Network on Thursday night, I decided to rewatch it so that I could finally get around to writing this review!

What Was It About?

Melanie (Jenna Rosenow) and her daughter, Hannah (Emily Topper), have moved to a new town and, for Hannah, that means starting at a new school!  From the very first day, it’s obvious that Hannah is going to struggle to fit in.  Hannah may be nice but her classmates definitely are not.  The cheerleaders are bitchy.  The jocks are toxic.  Her best friend is alienated.  There’s a mysterious man who occasionally shows up and menacingly waves around a taser.  The only good news is that the friendly guidance counselor (John William Wright) wants to hire her to teach his daughter how to play the piano!  What could possibly go wrong?

What Worked?

I enjoyed Nobody Will Believe You because it did what every good Lifetime film does.  It shamelessly and openly embraced the melodrama.  Seriously, every possible thing that could happen to Hannah did happen to Hannah.  No sooner was Hannah getting rejected by the cheerleaders then she was saving the most popular girl in school from a falling printer.  No sooner had Hannah’s phone been hacked than someone was trying to frame her for murder.  It was such a nonstop collection of incidents that it quickly became clear to me that the film was self-aware when it came to its status as a Lifetime film.  It understood why the audience was watching and it was determined to give us exactly what we wanted.  At its best, the film worked as both a tribute to and a parody of the typical Lifetime movie.

What Did Not Work?

Obviously, for the film’s plot to work, Hannah had to be extremely naïve and trusting.  And, let’s be honest, it is true that some people are easily tricked.  Not everyone has the streetwise instincts of a suburbanite who has watched several hundred Lifetime films.  However, even with that in mind, it was sometimes hard to accept that Hannah could be as totally naïve as she often was.  Watching the movie, you sometimes got the feeling that, even if Hannah survived, she was destined to grow up to be one of those people who ends up sending their life savings to Aruba because someone contacted them on Facebook, claiming to be Garrett Hedlund.

“Oh my God!” Just Like Me Moments

When I was growing up, my family used to move a lot so I definitely could relate to Hannah’s nervousness about having to start all over again at an entirely new school.  And, when I was in high school, I got along famously with our guidance counselor.  If I hadn’t broken my ankle, maybe he would have asked me to teach his daughter to dance.  Of course, if Lifetime films have taught me anything, it’s that being hired to teach anyone anything is automatically going to lead to tragedy.

And of course, that brings us to….

Lessons Learned

Don’t teach.  Don’t offer to help anyone.  Reject any and all offers of mentorship.  It’s just going to lead to trouble.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Psycho Intern (dir by Ann Forry)


Here at the Shattered Lens, we have a very simple but very important rule.

DON’T SLEEP WITH THE INTERNS!

Of course, we also don’t have any interns so I’ve never really had to go out of my way to enforce that rule but still, if we did have interns, the rule would definitely be to not sleep with them.  Seriously, I’ve seen enough Lifetime films to know better.  Anytime you see a Lifetime film with the word “Intern” in the title, you know that the intern is going to be attractive, you know that the boss is going to be dealing with a difficult divorce or some other personal issue, and you know that one night of passion is going to leave to at least 40 minutes of trouble.

That’s certainly the case when it comes to Alex Prescott (Madison Smith), the handsome young man who works as an intern for Maya (Emmanuelle Vaugier).  At first, Alex just seems like an overly earnest college student who is oddly eager about making coffee.  But then, after Maya’s assistant is injured in a mysterious accident, Alex becomes an indispensable part of the office.  In fact, Alex is so helpful and so supportive and so handsome that it doesn’t seem to matter that he never brought in the information necessary for the company to run a background check for him.  And when he’s asked to offer up some proof that he actually is a college student, he claims that university’s server has gone down and it’ll be a while before he can get that proof.  

That all sounds pretty suspicious to me but one can’t really blame Maya for not paying to much attention.  She’s got a lot to deal with.  Not only is her daughter coming by for a visit but Maya also has a big presentation coming up.  Unfortunately, she also has to deal with a misogynistic coworker.  Fortunately, that coworker is sent to the hospital, the result of another mysterious accident!  There certainly do seem to be a lot of mysterious accidents and incidents whenever Alex is around.  Maya would probably notice that if she wasn’t busy having a one night stand with him in the office.

Afterwards, Maya is all like, “We have to transfer you to another office!”  But Alex …. well, the title of the movie is Psycho Intern, afterall!

This is hardly the first movie about a psycho to air on Lifetime, nor will it be the last.  Hell, it’s not even the first Lifetime movie about a psycho intern!  For whatever reason, interns are always bad news on Lifetime, which leads me to wonder what life is like at corporate headquarters.  One of the main themes of Lifetime movies that take place in the corporate world is that executives should never trust anyone who makes less money than them because those people will always end up trying to kill them.  That’s certainly the case here but, what the film lacks in originality, it makes up for in entertaining melodrama.  Madison Smith does a good job of switching back and forth from being charming to being batshit insane.  Emmanuelle Vaugier is a veteran of these type of films and she bring her usual flair to the role.  It’s a Lifetime movie that promises a psycho intern and it keeps its promise.

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: Driven to Kill (dir by Doug Campbell)


Ever since she was little, Brittany Green (Shelby Yardley) has wanted to become a professional race car driver.  She just loves cars and who can blame her?  Her fiancé, Kevin (Devante Winfrey), wants her to help him run his family’s hotel, despite the fact that a hotel is nowhere near as exciting as the Indy 500.  And Andrew James (Phillip Boyd) …. well, he just wants Brittany.

Andrew used to be a hotshot race car driver, until a serious accident left him with vision problems and a slightly obsessive personality.  Andrew now makes his living by teaching other people how to race cars.  Guess who his latest student is?  It’s Brittany!  Unfortunately, Andrew has a former former rival named Mario (Justin Berti), and he also wants to teach Brittany and he’ll do everything in his power to pull her away.  (He’ll even point out that he actually won his race, something that Andrew rarely did.)  Unfortunately, what Mario doesn’t realize, is that Andrew will do anything to keep Brittany as a student.

That’s something that Kevin discovers as well.  When a sudden death (once that Andrew had a little something to do with) forces Kevin to spend more and more time working at the hotel, he starts to pressure Brittany to give up her dream.  Soon, it’s not just a question of whether or not Kevin and Brittany’s relationship will survive.  It’s a question of whether or not Kevin and Brittany will survive as well!

Driven to Kill is a classic Lifetime film, an entertaining movie about obsession, fast cars, and a time bomb.  (Listen, it’s just not a car movie without a time bomb.)  Philip Boyd is convincingly unhinged as Andrew while Shelby Yardley is likable in the role of Brittany and even manages to make you care a little about whether or not she’s ever going to get to hit the NASCAR circuit.  Justin Berti is enjoyable eccentric in the role of Mario and provides some nice comedic relief to all the melodrama.

The key to understanding a film like Driven to Kill is that it’s not a film that you’re meant to take seriously.  It’s a film that celebrates everything that we love about Lifetime — i.e., the melodrama, the obsessiveness, and the message that you can have both do what you love and love the one you’re with.  Yes, Andrew is obviously unhinged but that’s what makes a film like this fun!  We know that Brittany’s in danger long before she knows it.  This is the type of movie that you watch with a group of friend who enjoy talking back to the screen.  It’s a fun movie and it features a lot of race track action and really that is what’s important.  It’s a film that delivers exactly what it promises.

Driven to Kill was directed by Doug Campbell, who is responsible for many of my favorite Lifetime films.  Some will undoubtedly notice that Driven to Kill feels a bit like a companion piece to Campbell’s previous film, Deadly Mile High Club, but so what?  I enjoyed that movie too.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Malicious Motives (dir by Mike Hoy)


How far would you go to be popular?

Would you take a volunteer job at the hospital in an attempt to show everyone that you actually are a good person?

Would you lie about the terrible circumstances of your home life?

Would you try to become best friends with the most popular girl in school?

Would you donate an organ?

Would you….

Wait, what?  Yes, you read that correctly.  I did say, “Donate an organ.”  I realize that may sound somewhat extreme but that’s exactly what happens in the Lifetime film, Malicious Motives!  When Katie (Juliana Destefano) learns that the most popular girl in school, Ashley (Revell Carpenter), desperately needs a live transplant and that they share the same blood type, Katie agrees to be the donor!  They only problem is that, since Katie is a minor, she needs to get the permission of a parent or a legal guardian.  Unfortunately, her legal guardian is her trashy sister, Sasha (Briana Femia).  Knowing that Sasha will never agree, Katie forges Sasha’s name.

Yay!  The operation is a success!  Ashley is going to live and it looks like Katie has a new best friend!  However, when Sasha finds out that Katie donated part of her liver to someone else, Sasha is livid.  Katie lies and says that Ashley’s family is going to pay them for the transplant but that it’s going to take a few months for the money to go through because it’s like super illegal.  Sasha’s like, “Fine, just get the money!”  Katie starts to make plans to become a part of Ashley’s family….

Seriously, poor Katie!  I mean, Katie is technically the obsessive danger in this particular film but it’s still hard not to feel that life just hasn’t given her a fair chance.  She has absolutely the worst sister on the planet!  Not only does Sasha refuses to pick Katie up from the hospital but she also sells all of Katie’s pain killers!  Imagine trying to recover from a major surgery with no pain killers.  Making it even worse is that Sasha’s boyfriend, Brett (Conner Floyd), is a total perv who thinks that organ donation scars are totally hot.  AGCK!  You really can’t blame Katie for going a little bit overboard in her attempts to escape from that situation.

Still, donating an organ does seem like an extreme solution.  But, then again, this is a Lifetime film and a part of the fun of Lifetime is that everything’s extreme.  No one does the sensible thing, like calling the police.  Instead, they donate an organ and then try to force their way into someone else’s family.  The implausibility of it all is a part of the fun.  If you can’t embrace the melodrama, these films will never be for you,

Ultimately, what matters is that Juliana Destefano gives a good performance as the sympathetic but unhinged Katie while Briana Femia goes wonderfully over-the-top as the sister from Hell.  As I watched the film, I found myself appreciating my own sisters. They would never have treated me as badly as Sasha treated Katie.  I will always be thankful that, because of them, I made it through high school with all of my organs intact.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Pom Poms and Payback (dir by Doug Campbell)


This is it! Pom Poms and Payback is quite possibly the great Lifetime cheerleader film ever!

We start with a dream-like sequence in which a teenager named Sally Crumb walks down the street while three cheerleaders stalk behind her, chanting her name and accusing her of being “a bum” and “a cheater.” Reaching her house, Sally turns on the cheerleaders and shouts at them to leave her alone. The main cheerleader laughs at her. Sally threatens to kill all of the cheerleaders. Again, the cheerleaders don’t look particularly concerned. Meanwhile, barely noticed, Sally’s little sister glares at all three of them….

Jump forward 25 years! Three new cheerleaders — Sharlene (Shaylaren Hilton), Jessie (La’Priesh Roman), and Annabelle (Jazlyn Nicolette Sward) — are all looking forward to next school dance! They’ve all got wonderful boyfriends and all the reason in the world to be happy. But something goes wrong for all three of them. Sharlene sees a picture of her boyfriend making out with another girl. Jessie discovers that her grades have been altered, apparently be the somewhat nerdy but adorable guy that she’s dating. Meanwhile, Annabelle’s boyfriend goes to college out-of-state. Despite having promised to fly home for the dance, he never shows up. He claims that his flight was cancelled but obviously, he must have been cheating!

Under Sharlene’s direction, all three of the cheerleaders get revenge on their boyfriends but then Sharlene realizes that it’s all a bit too convenient. All three of their boyfriends turned out to be jerks on the same night? And all three of them claim that they were set up? Could it be that someone is trying to destroy the happiness of the school’s cheerleaders? And could that person be the new cheerleading coach, Denise Evergreen (Emily Killian)!?

Well, I’m not going to spoil too much of the plot, other than to say that it’s full of twists and turns. It’s also full of plenty of inentionally humorous moments because Pom Poms and Payback is not a film that’s meant to be taken too seriously. It’s a film that’s meant to be fun and that means that we not only get a science experiment gone wrong (“Watch out for that rocket!”) but we also get a scene where a character is taken down by a cheerleader doing a flip in slow motion. Pom Poms and Payback is a film that was specifically made for those of us who have seen countless Lifetime cheerleader films and who know all of the usual plot points and tricks. Pom Poms and Payback pokes some affectionate fun at the genre. Consider it to be Lifetime’s gift to all of us loyal viewers.

Doug Campbell, who is responsible for some of the best films to ever air on Lifetime, directs with his customary flair and the entire film is full of enjoyably weird characters and details. Emily Killian has a lot of fun with the part of the scheming Coach Killian while Carrie Schroeder, playing the mother of one of the cheerleaders, brings a lot of conviction to her role. It’s a film that comments on the Lifetime cheerleader genre and which also finds time to include an important message of bullying. Be carful who you taunt because high school is not forever.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Cheer For Your Life (dir by Jared Cohn)


Bring it on deadly!

Cindy Braverman (Grace Patterson) and Allison Regan (Marisa Lynae Hampton) are both hoping to become the newest members of the Queen Bees, the senior cheerleaders!  However, the head cheerleader — Fiona Sparks (Anna Belle Bayley) — isn’t going to make things easy for them or anyone else who wants to become a Queen Bee.  Before you can be a Queen Bee, you have to go through two weeks of ritual humiliation and soul-destroying abuse.

That’s right …. it’s initiation time!

However, this isn’t a typical initiation.  Sure, there’s the usual stuff, like getting soaked with a hose and being ordered to only say “buzz” for an entire day.  But then there’s the secret parties, the forced marches, the mysterious car theft, the disappearances, and the murders.  Oh yes, there are a few deaths.  Actually, everyone insists that the deaths are just an unfortunate coincidence but Allison isn’t so sure and eventually, Cindy comes to share her suspicions.  Can they solve the mystery of the dying and vanishing cheerleaders or is the high school going to have to suffer through a year without their bees!?

Buzz  buzz!

I always enjoy a good Lifetime cheerleader movie, largely because they give me a chance to play “What if?”  My sister was cheerleader and I spent my first two years of high school being continually told that I should be a cheerleader.  I have to admit that I was perhaps a bit more tempted than I was willing to acknowledge at the time.  However, in the end, I always decided that I wanted to establish my own identity and do my own thing and that’s what I did.  I enjoyed high school and I have to admit that I’ve never been able to relate to people who claim that it was the worst time of their lives.  Still, I do occasionally wonder what my high school experience would have been like if I had followed in my sister’s footsteps and cheered.  Would I have still discovered my love of history, art, and writing?  Would I have been lucky enough to still have the same large group of very different and very interesting friends?  Or would I have spent all of my time just hanging out with the other cheerleaders?  (For the record, my sister was a kickass cheerleader and is now a kickass photographer so it probably wasn’t quite the binary choice that it’s often presented as being.)  I imagine I would have a good time regardless of which choice I made because I always manage to have a good time.  But, as a cheerleader, I would have missed out on some fun experiences just as I probably missed out on a few by not being a cheerleader.

Or, at least, that’s what I believed before I watched my first Lifetime cheerleader film!  Seriously, on Lifetime, cheerleading is dangerous!  You’re always either getting stalked or the other cheerleaders are plotting to kill you or you end up with a teacher trying to ruin your life for no good reason.  That’s the fun of a good Lifetime movie, of course.  Everything and everyone always ends up going to extremes.  Lifetime films deal with real-life situations but they do so in such an over-the-top way that you can watch them and think, “I may be struggling right now but at least my situation isn’t as bad as all that!”

Cheer For Your Life is a fun Lifetime cheerleader film, one that assures us that peer pressure is bad but being a cheerleader is really cool.  While it hits all of the expected Lifetime cheerleader film plot points, it also features two likable performances from Grace Patterson and especially Marisa Lynae Hampton.  (If you don’t cheer a little when Hampton continues her investigate despite being on crutches, I have to wonder what you would cheer for.)  Anna Belle Bayley is wonderfully villainous as the head cheerleader.  It’s an entertaining film, one that encourages you to be careful what you wish for while also assuring you that you should probably go ahead and wish for it anyways.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Killer Cheer Mom (dir by Randy Carter)


It’s not easy being a stepmother.

That’s one of the many things that I’ve learned from watching Lifetime movie.  If you’re a stepmother, all of the neighbors are going to assume that you only got married for the money.  If you have a stepson, he’s going to end up triggering bad memories that are going to lead to you trying to seduce and then kill him.  If you have a stepdaughter, she’s going to resent you and you’re going to have to decide whether to win her trust by saving her from a stalker or to try to kill her off so that you alone stand to inherit all of your husband’s money after you poison him.  Decisions, decisions!

The stepmom in Killer Cheer Mom is Amanda (Denise Richards).  Amanda has just married James (Thomas Calabro) and she really wants to bond with her new stepdaughter, Riley (Courtney Fulk).  Unfortunately, Riley doesn’t want to bond with her new stepmother.  In fact, Riley kind of wishes that Amanda would just go away.  Riley is far more concerned with making the cheerleading squad.

Whereas Riley sees a problem, Amanda sees an opportunity!  Amanda can bond with Riley by helping her out with her cheerleading.  And what better way to help than to injure and plot against Riley’s competition!?  Soon, the local high school is the most dangerous place on Earth and it’s all because Riley refused to appreciate her stepmom.

It’s a bit unfortunate that Killer Cheer Mom was not produced as a part of Lifetime’s Wrong franchise, just because I would have liked to have heard Vivica A. Fox say something like, “Looks your father married the wrong cheer mom.”  That said, even if Killer Cheer Mom doesn’t quite reach the wonderfully and intentionally absurd heights of the Wrong films, it’s still an enjoyably self-aware movie.  After years of movies about cheerleaders being harassed by the crazed mothers of their friends, Killer Cheer Mom offers up a stepmother who is even more dangerous because she’s actually trying to be helpful.  As the film plays out, Amanda’s schemes grow more and more extreme.  More than just being a standard Lifetime villain, she’s instead a force of pure chaos.  One gets the feeling that, if she didn’t have a stepdaughter, she would find another excuse to cause trouble.  It’s what makes her happy.

A film like this is only as good as its villain and, fortunately, Amanda is played by Denise Richards.  Richards gives a compelling performance, embracing the melodrama but, at the same time, never condescending to the material.  Instead, she plays Amanda as being someone who never stops performing.  When she’s in public, she pretends to be a loving wife.  When she’s with her stepdaughter, she pretends to be a teenager again.  When she’s alone and plotting against her daughter’s competition, she appears to be performing solely for her own amusement.  What makes Amanda memorable is not just what she does but also the fact that she seems to get so much enjoyment out of doing it.  It’s obvious that both Richards and Amanda are having a ball being bad.

Killer Cheer Mom is an enjoyable Lifetime cheerleader movie.  Watch it and ask yourself how far you would go to make your stepdaughter happy.  If you wouldn’t be willing to frame the competition by stashing drugs in their backpack, ask yourself why not.  It’s all about family.

Cleaning Out The DVR: The Wrong Cheer Captain (dir by David DeCoteau)


“She definitely picked the wrong cheer captain,” Carol (Vivica A. Fox) says toward the end of Lifetime’s The Wrong Cheer Captain and what else can I say but, “Damn right!”

Seriously, Anna (Sofia Masson) may be a good cheerleader and she may have a lot of experience and she may have even been recruited to go to her new high school so that she could be a member of the cheerleading squad but she definitely should not have been named captain.  Not only is Anna failing her classes and vaping on school grounds but she also has a bad habit of murdering people!  Of course, Anna only commits murder because a past trauma and because she wants so badly to succeed as a cheerleader but still, murdering is definitely not a good habit.  I mean, if the school has a no vaping policy, I can only imagine what their policy on murder would be!

Perhaps a better pick for cheer captain would have been Carol’s daughter, Kate (Alexis Salmon).  Of course, Kate is actually pretty busy trying to prove that Anna murdered her best friend so it’s not like Kate doesn’t already have a lot to deal with.  Oddly enough, even though the evidence overwhelmingly indicates that Anna is murderer, Kate can’t get anyone to listen to her.  The principal is skeptical.  The cheerleading coach just wants to win competitions.  And Kate’s mother keeps trying to blame everything on drugs.  She even orders Kate not to hang out with her boyfriend because of his past use of steroids….

Wow, there’s a lot going on at this high school!  Who knew that the world of high school cheerleading was so ruthless?

Well, everyone.  Everyone knows that high school cheerleading is perhaps the most dangerous activity that someone can involve themselves with, especially if they’re starring in a Lifetime film.  And if you’re in a Lifetime film that has the word “Wrong” in the title, it’s even more dangerous!  I’ve lost track of how many Wrong films David DeCoteau has directed by Lifetime but it certainly does seem like a lot of them feature cheerleaders.  They also all feature Vivica A. Fox, usually playing a no-nonsense authority figure and ending the film by using the title as a way to sum things up.  “It looks like you hired the Wrong Landscaper,” Vivica will say and, even though you didn’t actually do the hiring and he was instead only sent by an agency, you nod and agree because you know better than to openly disagree with Vivica A. Fox.  Instead, you face the truth and admit that, even if it doesn’t seem that way, you were still somehow wrong.

The Wrong films have become a bit of a Lifetime mainstay, loved for their campy melodrama, their Canadian locations, and, of course, Vivica A. Fox.  The Wrong Cheer Captain has a lot in common with the other Wrong films but then again, that’s part of the appeal of these films.  They’re like comfort food.  You watch them because of their comforting familiarity and because you know exactly what you’re going to get.  The Wrong Cheer Captain delivers exactly what it promises, cheerleader mayhem and plenty of different takes on the term “wrong.”  Who could possibly complain about that?

Cleaning Out The DVR: The Price of Fitting In (dir by Alpha Nicky Mulowa)


What is the price of fitting in?

Well, according to this Lifetime film, the price is getting hooked on synthetic marijuana, losing a scholarship to the best school for STEM in the country, and disappointing your mother.  That last one has got to be the worst part of it all.  I remember when I first started college, I would occasionally pop a handful of Dexedrine in the morning and then stay up for four days straight.  It was fun at the time but I always felt terrible whenever I would go home for the weekend and see my mom.  In fact, the main reason why I eventually stopped doing that wasn’t because it was messing with my health (though staying up for four days straight when you have asthma isn’t something I would necessarily recommend) but because I didn’t want my mom to blame herself if I ended up killing myself after falling asleep while driving.

Now, me, I experimented with drugs because I was curious and I thought that I might have an interesting experience or two.  Charlie Cunningham (played by Elizabeth Adams) uses drugs because she’s under too much pressure.  Her parents have just gotten an acrimonious divorce.  Her father is always breaking his promises to her.  Her mother, Amber (Lora Burke) is always working and is overprotective of Charlie.  Charlie wants to pursue a career in STEM and she’s had trouble with pills in the past.  (It’s implied that it all started at “STEMP camp,” which makes sense since that sounds like the most boring camp on the planet.)  

When Charlie enrolls at a new school, Amber is hoping that it will be a new start for her.  However, no sooner has Charlie gotten involved with her new school’s robotics club than she finds herself tempted back into her old ways.  Her fellow teammates insist that synthetic marijuana is the best way to take the edge off and, of course, it’s totally legal!  Soon, Charlie is buying so much that even the clerk at the local weed shop is giving her the side eye.  However, it turns out that synthetic marijuana is linked to all sorts of bad stuff and soon, Charlie is losing interest in school, screwing up at robotics club, and passing out in alleys!

I’m probably making the film sound a bit more overdramatic and campy than it is.  Though it’s hard not to notice that every bad thing that can happen does happen as far as Charlie’s drug use is concerned, the film never quite veers into Reefer Madness or “No Hope With Dope” territory.  Lora Burke and Elizabeth Adams are well-cast as mother and daughter and both of them gave sincere and grounded performances, which kept the film from going totally over the top.

That said, the most interesting thing about the film was not Charlie’s use of drugs but instead the character of Andrew Fell (Nick Smyth), the sleazy high school guidance counselor who, upon discovering that Charlie is again using, proceeds to use that information to manipulate, control, and blackmail her.  Everyone has met someone like Andrew Fell.  They’re the people who claim to care about you but who ultimately go out of their way to keep you weak and dependent.  Smyth did a wonderful job bringing the character to loathsome life.  Every time he popped up and told Charlie that he was worried about her or threatened to call her mother about his concerns, my skin crawled.  Though the film may have primarily been concerned with drug abuse, it was a better portrait of how people in positions of authority will often abuse the power and trust that comes with it.

The Price of Fitting In is a bit of a misleading title, as Charlie never quite fits in no matter what she does.  Still, it’s an improvement on the film’s original title, Trouble in Suburbia.  I’ve often complained about Lifetime’s habit of renaming films but, in this case, they made the right choice.

 

Cleaning Out The DVR: Psycho Storm Chaser (dir by Buz Wallick)


“I know you!,” more than one person says during Psycho Storm Chaser, “You’re on TV!  You’re Dr. Carl!”

And indeed, Carl Highstrom (played by Rob Hillis) is a bit of a local celebrity.  He’s the guy who goes out in the middle of a hurricane and films himself talking about how everyone should be either evacuating the area or taking shelter.  He’s the man who you trust during tornado and hurricane season!  He’s out there, performing a public service!  Thank you, Dr. Carl!

Of course, you’ll notice that the title of this Lifetime film is Psycho Storm Chaser.  And, when we first meet Carl, he’s in the process of murdering a young woman who tried to hide in her basement during a hurricane.  It turns out that Carl takes the weather very seriously.  He’s also a big believer in following the directions of the National Weather Service.  If the alert says that you need to take shelter, you better take shelter!  If the alert tells you to leave the area, that doesn’t mean that you think about doing it.  That means you do it!  And, if you don’t, Carl will come by your house and kill you.

Unfortunately, Abby Fields (Tara Erickson) can’t leave the area, despite the fact that a hurricane is rapidly approaching.  She’s a home care nurse and she’s been hired to take care of a house-bound coma patient.  There’s no way to get the patient to a hospital.  So, Abby has to stay in the house with another nurse and the patient’s sister and she has to hope that, even with a hurricane raging outside, the power doesn’t go out.  Still, Abby is determined to her duty and it’s going to take more than a storm to defeat her!

Unfortunately, Carl really doesn’t care about the fact that Abby’s just doing her job.  That’s because Carl is a psycho storm chaser!

What can I say about Psycho Storm Chaser?  It’s such a simple idea for a film and yet I absolutely loved it!  In my case, a lot of that is because I’m from Texas so I’ve known my share of self-styled storm chasers and most of them have been a bit off.  Maybe not psycho but …. well, off.  When Carl started ranting about how important it was to do what the Weather Service said, I was reminded of every local meteorologist who has ever interrupted regular programming to order me to get into a “tornado-safe room.”  (I’m not sure which room that would be, to be honest.  My favorite room is the second-story bedroom but that’s probably not a good place to be during a tornado.)  When Carl first spotted Abby and had a dramatic moment due to her reminding him of someone from his past, I recalled the frantic storm chaser who went on television a few years ago and announced that a tornado had just ripped through an elementary school.  “THE TORNADO HAS HIT THE SCHOOL!” he shouted, even though anyone watching the footage could see that the tornado was clearly nowhere near the school.  After having caused a mass panic, that storm chaser was not asked to appear on television anymore.

Rob Hillis played Dr. Carl and he was a lot of fun in the role.  He was just so grim and judgmental and goddamn serious about it all that it was hard not to get a kick out of the scenes of him lecturing anyone who didn’t evacuate the area.  Carl was an entertainingly over-the-top villain and Hillis played him with just the right mix of humor and menace.  He hated the weather but he loved his job.

Psycho Storm Chaser is an entertainingly silly film.  It’s obviously not meant to be taken seriously.  Instead, it’s just something to keep you amused until after the rain passes.