What Lisa Watched Last Night #167: The Killing Pact (dir by John Lyde)


Last night, I watched The Killing Pact on Lifetime!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!  Y’all know that I can’t resist a Lifetime movie, especially one that has the word “killing” in the title.  At the very least, I figured The Killing Pact would feature the over the top melodrama and tasteful interior design that we’ve all come to expect from Lifetime movies.

(That said, The Killing Pact was advertised as being a premiere but, actually, it aired on the Lifetime Movie Network last month.  I DVR’d it when it first aired but I hadn’t gotten around to watching it yet.  By watching it on Lifetime last night, I was able to clear a little more space on my DVR.  Yay!)

 What Was It About?

Strangers In An Uber!

Strangers In A Train Without The Train!

Take your pick, they’re both adequate descriptions of what was going on in The Killing Pact.  When Hayley (Emily Rose), a single mother and Uber driver, gives a ride to two weirdos (Melanie Stone and Brandon Ray Olive), she is drawn into an unexpected situation.  It turns out that all three of them have people in their lives that they wish were dead.  So, why not agree to a killing pact?  At first, Hayley thinks it’s all a joke but then her sleazy loser of an ex-husband is brutally murdered.  Hayley’s new friends have kept their end of the bargain.  Now, it’s time for Hayley to do her part…

What Worked?

I liked the look of the film.  Almost every scene was drenched in this moody, overcast atmosphere and, as a result, the film was almost always interesting to look at, even if the plot didn’t always work.  There was one scene — of Hayley pulling up in front of a cheap motel — that I thought was especially well put together.  The dark clouds, the wet pavement, the dilapidated motel — the whole scene was full of menace.

What Did Not Work?

For the most part, this film just didn’t work for me.  At first, I was a little confused as to why the movie was doing so little for me but, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the film just moved way too slowly, especially for a movie that was frequently interrupted by commercials.  The typical Lifetime film has 8 acts.  That means that, over the course of a typical Lifetime movie, there are at least 7 cliffhangers, all designed to make you stick around through the commercials so you can see what happens during the 8th act.  The Killing Pact, however, felt more like a three or four act movie.  There was no forward momentum to hold your interest even through the commercial breaks.  The film’s pacing was definitely off and Lifetime films are all about maintaining a steady pace.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

One of the murders involved an autocratic theater producer.  It reminded me of all the murders that nearly occurred during a community theater production of Little Shop of Horrors that I was once involved with.

Lessons Learned

Pacing is everything!

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Sinister Minister (dir by Jose Montesinos)


(Lisa is currently in the process of cleaning out her DVR.  She’d probably be done already if she wasn’t trying to review every single movie that she watches.  Sometimes, it takes longer to write the review than to watch the movie.  Boo hoo.  Anyway, she recorded Sinister Minister off of Lifetime on May 28th.)

“Oh hell yeah!”

That’s what I shouted when Sinister Minister began and I saw the following: “The Asylum Presents…”

I’ve explained in the past why I love Asylum films but I will be more than happy to explain again.  After all, it’s possible that you may not have read my previous reviews and, anyway, I’ve got a word count to meet.  I love those three words — “The Asylum Presents” — because the Asylum specializes in making films that are pure entertainment.  There’s no pretension when it comes to the Asylum.  There’s no attempt to try to fool the audience into thinking that they’re seeing something more than they actually are.  There’s none of the silly BS that makes so many other films so tedious.  No.  The Asylum promises to entertain you and, usually, they keep that promise.

Take Sinister Minister for example.  First off, there’s the title.  Sinister Minister has got to be one of the most brilliant titles that I’ve ever seen.  You read that title and you know exactly what you’re getting.  It’s going to be a film about minister and he’s going to be sinister.  The only question is whether or not he’s going to be a man of God or if he’s going to be an official in some dreary socialist country in Europe.

In this case, he’s pretending to be a man of God.  DJ (Ryan Patrick Shanahan) is a charismatic dynamo on the pulpit, giving fiery sermons and encouraging people to read their bibles.  (I didn’t catch his denomination.  I’m going to assume that he a part of that all-purpose, nameless denomination that all television and movie protestants seem to be a part of.)  When we first meet DJ, he’s married but his wife promptly dies in an auto “accident.”  That frees him up to marry his mistress.

However, no sooner has DJ gotten remarried then he meets the recently divorced Trish (Nikki Howard).  DJ likes Trish and Trish likes DJ.  Less impressed is Trish’s teenage daughter, Siena (Angelica Briones).  Of course, it doesn’t matter because DJ’s married, right?  Well, that can be taken care of…

So, is it possible that DJ is just murdering one wife after another and now he’s planning on marrying Trish?  And, in order to do that, is he going to have to target everyone who might have reason to be suspicious of his intentions, including Siena?  Well, he wouldn’t be a sinister minister otherwise!

Anyway, Sinister Minister is one of those totally over the top melodramas that has just enough self-awareness to also be a lot of fun.  (It’s based on a true story but don’t let that scare you off.)  Ryan Patrick Shanahan brings the right mix of bad boy charisma and mustache twirling villainy to the role.  As always, The Asylum promises and enjoyable movie and it delivered.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #166: Daughter For Sale (dir by Farhad Mann)


Last night, I turned on Lifetime and I watched Daughter for Sale!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, the main reason was because the film was on Lifetime and I always enjoy live tweeting Lifetime films.  There’s a strong community of Lifetime live tweeters.  We all appreciate Canadian location shooting and unapologetic melodrama.

Add to that, Daughter For Sale is a great title.  When you see that a movie is called Daughter for Sale, you really have no choice but to watch.

What Was It About?

Annalise O’Neil (Emily Rose) is a newly appointed judge.  We know this because 50% of her dialogue consists of her telling people, “I’m a judge.”  She also lives in a house that is almost totally made of glass.  Seriously, it’s all windows and there’s no privacy.

Anyway, when the movie starts, she’s celebrating being a judge by throwing a party at her glass house.  When she tells her teenage daughter, Carly (Emily Tennant), to put on a pink dress and come downstairs to the party, Carly responds by cutting the dress into pieces and then sneaking out of the house.  Somehow, nobody notices her running away, despite the fact that the house is almost all window.

Anyway, Carly wanders around Vancouver for a while and then ends up getting kidnapped by a human trafficking ring that is operated by a pretend do-gooder named John Gallant (Antonio Cupo).  Working with a whiny, leather jacket-wearing detective named Derek (Chris Kalhoon), Annalise searches for her missing daughter.  (Her search basically consists of approaching random people and saying, “I’m a judge.”)  Will Annalise and Whiny Detective Man be able to find Carly before she’s sold to the highest bidder?

What Worked?

Particularly for a Lifetime film, Daughter For Sale looked really good.  The shadowy cinematography created the perfect sense of menace.  The warehouse that Carly was kept in was pure nightmare fuel.  We tend to take production design for granted but the people responsible for the look of Daughter for Sale outdid themselves.

Emily Tennant did a pretty good job as Carly. (Remarkably, despite spending about a month in a dirty old warehouse, Carly’s hair and makeup remained perfect throughout the entire movie.)  Antonio Cupo was properly sleazy as the bad guy.  I enjoyed the way the film contrasted Gallant’s public image with the monstrous reality of who he truly was.

What Did Not Work?

“I’m a judge.”  Yes, we know, Analise!  You don’t have to mention it every two minutes!  You being a judge certainly isn’t going to get your daughter out of that warehouse…

This was one of those films where everyone continually switched from being super competent to being super stupid, depending on what was necessary for the scene.  Analise, in particular, was always either a genius or the most naive jurist in history.  Meanwhile, John Gallant was able to run a halfway house, a charity, and an international sex trafficking ring but he wasn’t smart enough to hide the incriminating evidence in his office.  If you’re going to send a thug to beat up a judge, it might be smart to not allow yourself to then be seen, in public, hanging out with the exact same thug.  Or, at least, that’s the way it would seem to me.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

“I’m a judge!”

No, actually, I’m not.  But if I was, I would probably remind everyone every chance I got as well.

Lessons Learned

She’s a judge!

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: The Rachels (dir by Michael Civille)


(Hi, everyone!  I’ve been cleaning out my DVR and reviewing the films that I’ve recorded.  Here’s my final review of the day.  I recorded The Rachels off of Lifetime on January 29th!)

I want to tell you about The Rachels but it’s not going to be easy because, at the same time, I don’t want to tell you too much.  The Rachels is a whip-smart and wonderfully snarky little satire and, because of the non-linear narrative style that the first half of the film employs, there’s very little I can tell you about the plot without spoiling the movie.

Don’t be put off by its origins as a Lifetime film.  Don’t judge the film just because the title was obviously inspired by Heathers.  How good is The Rachels?  It’s so good that I’m tempted to call it nifty.  That’s how good it is.

It tells the story of two teenage girls named Rachel.  They’ve been best friends forever.  They do the morning announcements together, always ending things by reminding the school, “We’re the Rachels.”  Rachel Nelson (Madison Iseman) is blonde and popular, a track star who is loved by everyone.  Rachel Richards (Caitlin Carver) is brunette and she’s slightly less popular than Rachel Nelson.  Rachel Richards is almost always in the shadow of Rachel Nelson.  While Rachel Nelson is praised by her track coach, Rachel Richards is consistently told that she could do better.  And then there’s Roxie (Daniela Bobadilla), a photographer who seems to be slightly obsessed with Rachel Nelson but is disliked by Rachel Richards.  Roxie claims that she was once one of the Rachels but she is continually told, by one of the Rachels (I can’t reveal which one), that she was never really a Rachel.

At a late night party, one of these three girls will fall off of the roof and plunge to her death, the result of an apparent suicide.  The film, in its non-linear fashion, holds off an immediately revealing which one of them fell from the roof and I will do the same.  What I can tell you is that the entire school soon becomes a shrine to the dead girl and the two survivors both use her death to their own advantage.  Both of them, by linking themselves to the now sainted dead girl, become very different types of celebrities.

It makes for a very sharp satire, one that perfectly skewers today’s culture of instant fame and internet grieving.  All three of the main actresses — Maidson Iseman, Caitlin Carver, and Daniela Bobadilla — are perfectly cast and give pitch perfect performances.  This is one of those films where no one turns out to be exactly who you thought they would be.  Well-written, well-directed, and wonderfully acted, The Rachels keeps you thinking and guessing.

That’s really all I can say about the movie without giving away too much.  Keep an eye out for it.

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Nanny Seduction (dir by Emily Moss Wilson)


(Hi, everyone!  I’ve been cleaning out my DVR over the past week and, today, I’ve been sharing reviews of the film’s that I watched!  I recorded Nanny Seduction off of the Lifetime Movie Network on February 26th!)

Before I talk too much about Nanny Seduction, I want to engage in a little speculation.

First off, looking at the credits, I noticed that several crew members of Nanny Seduction have also been involved with some of the shark films that usually show up on SyFy in the week before the premiere of the latest Sharknado.  That wasn’t a shock.  SyFy and Lifetime movies often tend to be produced by the same companies.  But what I loved about Nanny Seduction is that, in the very first scene, a child is seen receiving a book about sharks for her birthday!  I’m assuming that was an inside joke and I absolutely loved it.

Secondly, I’m going to guess that Nanny Seduction and A Deadly Affair were both filmed at roughly the same time.  Not only do the two films share several actors in common but I’m also pretty sure that the main house in A Deadly Affair was also the main house in Nanny Seduction.  And again, I found that to be very charming.  One of the fun things about watching both Lifetime and SyFy movies is making the connections between them.  It’s actually rather fun to see a familiar face pop up and wonder what their role is going to be this time.  It’s kind of like when Dick Miller shows up in a Roger Corman film or Giovanni Lombardo Radice pops up in one of Michele Soavi’s movies.

As for the film itself, Nanny Seduction pretty much takes the standard Lifetime nanny film to its logical extreme.  Lifetime has a long history of nanny paranoia.  It makes sense, of course.  By hiring a nanny, you’re not only trusting your child with a stranger but, in a way, you’re also admitting that you can’t be two places at once.  You’re admitting that your powers are limited.  Of course, by hiring a nanny — who is inevitably always younger, prettier and more exciting than boring old mommy — you’re running the risk that the nanny will either try to run off with your child or your husband.  Nanny Seduction is one of the first films to suggest that the nanny might do both.

Of course, that’s not all that Kara (Austin Highsmith) has to worry about.  She also has to worry about the fact that her daughter, Erin (Lauren Gobuzzi), is adopted and that Erin’s birth mother (Erin Cahill) is apparently stalking her.  And then there’s the fact that Kara’s husband, Ben (Wes Brown), has a history of cheating.  Even more than the typical Lifetime protagonist, Kara has good reason to be worried when the new nanny, Alyssa (Valerie Azlynn), keeps hitting on her husband.

Speaking of Alyssa, she’s one of my favorite Lifetime nannies.  It’s not that she’s any more evil than the typical Lifetime nanny.  Instead, it’s just that she’s so unapologetic about it.  Most evil nannies at least try to be subtle but Alyssa never even pretends to be Kara’s friend.  She pretty much steps into the house and announces, “I’m going to kidnap your child and run off with your husband.  Deal with it!”  Alyssa is so joyfully and unapologetically evil and Valeria Azlynn is clearly having such a blast playing her that she elevates the entire film.

Nanny Seduction is a lot of fun.  It embraces the melodrama and thank goodness for that!

 

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Mommy’s Prison Secret (dir by John L’Ecuyer)


(Hi!  I am currently in the process of cleaning out the DVR.  I recorded Mommy’s Prison Secret off of Lifetime on May 6th.)

Taylor Reynolds (Kelli Williams) has a secret and, believe it or not, the secret is not that she served time in prison.  Everyone knows that Taylor has a record and, as opposed to what would happen in the real world, everyone seems to be okay with it.  She’s got a nice house in the suburbs, a handsome husband (Justin Reynolds), and a good relationship with her teenage daughter, Bianca (Niamh Wilson).  She’s even best friends with her probation officer!

Of course, it’s not like Taylor killed anyone or anything like that.  She went to prison because she was arrested for DUI and the cops found weed in her car.  She was a model prisoner and apparently, something of a protegé of the warden’s.  She secured an early release from prison and she got her life back on track.

So, what’s Mommy’s prison secret?  Could it be that the weed actually belonged to husband and she basically took the fall for him?  Or could it have something to do with her former cellmate, Meghan (Sarain Boylan)?  Meghan has just been released from prison and of course, she promptly turns up in Taylor’s hometown.  When Taylor is at the supermarket and she realizes that she’s forgotten her wallet, Meagan pops up, pays for her groceries, and tells off the cashier.

Taylor can’t wait to get away from Meghan, who is tough, crude, and has a blonde mullet sorta thing going on.  However, Meghan has other plans,  That night, she shows up at Taylor’s house.  Her car has broken down.  It’s raining.  Taylor’s like, “Go away,” and Taylor’s husband is like, “We can’t kick out a guest!”

Needless to say, that’s a big mistake.  Not only is Meghan soon pressuring Taylor to sneak drugs into the prison but she’s also proving to be a bad influence on Bianca.  Taylor would love to tell Meghan to leave or maybe even call the police but, if she does that, Meghan will reveal Mommy’s prison secret!

What is Mommy’s prison secret?  Well, it’s probably not what you think it’s going to be.  I thought that it was going to turn out that Meghan and Taylor had been more than just cellmates (and there are hints of that being the case) but the secret itself is something totally different and, to be honest, a lot less interesting.

Anyway, the best thing about Mommy’s Prison Secret is Sarain Boylan’s performance as Meghan.  Boylan dominates every scene in which she appears.  Meghan speaks her mind and has literally no secrets and, in an odd way, you actually end up liking her a lot more than you like the duplicitous Taylor.  Even if she is a bad influence who blackmails Taylor into becoming a drug smuggler, it’s hard not to occasionally say, “Go Meghan!”

One final note: Was Taylor named after Orange Is The New Black‘s Taylor Schilling?  I’m going to assume that she was.

Lisa Cleans Out Her DVR: Dream House Nightmare (dir by Jose Montesinos)


(Hi!  I’m currently cleaning out my DVR and, though I’m making some progress, I’ve still got over 150 movies left to watch and review!  Will I finish before the world ends in November?  Who knows!?  Anyway, I recorded Dream House Nightmare off of the Lifetime Movie Network on April 2nd.)

I got really excited when Dream House Nightmare started and I saw those three magic words: “The Asylum Presents.”

“Oh, Hell yeah!” I shouted.  “An Asylum film!”

See, whenever I see “The Asylum Presents,” I know that the film that follows is going to be a lot of fun.  The Asylum is shameless about being over the top entertainment.  There is rarely anything subtle about an Asylum film but that’s exactly why people like me love them.  The Asylum has turned melodrama into an art form.

The other reason that I got excited about Dream House Nightmare was, from the opening shots, it was obvious that the film was set and shot in Louisiana.  Seriously, an Asylum film shot in the Deep South?  You better believe I was excited!

And, for the most part, Dream House Nightmare lived up to my expectations.  It tells the story of a house, a really big house that practically anyone would die for.  Madison Dupree (Terese Aiello) loves the house and would love to buy it.  When she sees another couple looking at the house, she even tells them not to bother.  She has determined that the house is going to belong to her.  Can you blame her?  She doesn’t have much else going on in her life.  Years ago, she was named Mother of the Year but now, she has been relegated to the margins of society.  She lives with her disabled daughter (Tenea Intriago, giving a poignant performance in a difficult role) and her white trash husband (Brett Baker).  Why can’t she at least have a nice house?

However, she doesn’t get the house.  A better offer is made by the Wades, Thom (David A. Cole) and his wife, Theresa (Rachel G. Whittle).  Thom is an emergency room doctor.  Theresa is pregnant and is often alone at home while her husband works at the hospital.  Theresa has already suffered one miscarriage and is understandably worried that she’ll have another.  It doesn’t help that the neighbors all think that she’s stand-offish.  (“I’m just shy!” she protests and believe me, as someone who has often been wrongly accused of having an attitude, I knew exactly what she was going through.)

It also doesn’t help that Madison is batshit insane, so insane that she immediately launches a campaign of harassment against the Wades.  She leaves threatening notes.  She goes online and announces that the Wades are having an open house, which leads to a few surprise visitors.  She leaves notes for the other neighbors, making Thom look like a pervert.  When Thom and Theresa hold a party to get to know their neighbors, Madison attempts to blow everyone up.

It’s just all so over-the-top and insane that it’s impossible not to enjoy.  The plot doesn’t have to make sense when it’s this much fun.  It seems somehow appropriate that the film takes place in the Deep South.  Down here, we embrace our melodrama.  This film is a potent combination of Louisiana atmosphere and Asylum melodrama, with a healthy amount of random insanity tossed into the mix.

As I said, I’m always happy when I see “The Asylum Presents.”  Films like this are the reason why.