Let’s Talk About Killer Under The Bed (dir by Jeff Hare)


Killer Under The Bed aired on the Lifetime network back on October 20th and, at first glance, it might sound like a typical lifetime film.

Recent widow Sarah (Kristy Swanson) has moved into a new house and gotten a new job.  She has two teenage daughters, both of whom are still struggling to deal with the death of their father.  The older daughter is Chrissy (Madison Lawlor), the star athlete who is protective of her younger sister, even if she’s not always willing to admit it.  Kilee (Brec Bassinger) meanwhile is struggling to escape from her sister’s shadow and fit in at her new school.

Consider some of what Kilee has to deal with.  The school’s resident mean girls are determined to destroy her.  She has a crush on one of her teachers and he seems to be growing more and more obsessed with her.  Kilee has a secret that she can’t tell her mother or her sister and Kilee fears that everyone blames her for what happened to her father.

As I said, it sounds like a typical Lifetime situation but here’s the twist.  Almost all of Kilee’s problem can be linked to the rather ugly doll that she stumbled across in her new home.  Much like buying weed in Colorado and then trying to sell it for a profit in Wyomng, having a voodoo doll seemed like a good idea at first.  By making wishes, Kilee not only punished the school bully but she also resolved a conflict between her mom and a co-worker.  And when Kilee wished that her teacher would love her, he went from holding her at a polite distance to suddenly sending her flirtatious texts and photoshopping their faces onto wedding advertisements!

But, much like a Colorado weed dealer spending the night in a Wyoming jail, Kilee soon discovers that nothing’s ever as easy as it seems.  Even the best of ideas have consequences.  For one thing, the doll has the power to drive people crazy.  Secondly, the doll itself is a bit possessive and has a temper.  When Chrissy comes across the doll and tries to throw it away, the doll responds by climbing out of the trashcan and reentering the house.  Later, when the school bully tries to steal the doll, the doll responds by attacking her with a knife.  Soon, the doll is crawling around the house, hiding underneath beds, and creating all sorts of mayhem.

Oh my God, this was such a great movie!  From the minute that doll unzipped Kilee’s backpak so that it could escape to raise havoc, I knew I was watching a great film.  Killer Under The Bed is totally over the top and just so wonderfully ludicrous that there’s no way that you can’t have fun watching it.  Between the killer doll, the bullies that were so evil that seemed like they should be plotting against The Avengers, and the perpetually confused teacher, Killer Under The Bed was way too much fun.

In the past, I’ve been told that Lifetime tends to be resistant to horror movies.  They really should rethink that policy.  Killer Under The Bed is one of the most entertaining Lifetime films that I’ve seen in a while.

Lifetime Film Review: Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey (dir by Jim Donovan)


In 1984, Lisa McVey was seventeen years old and working at a doughnut shop in Florida.  When she wasn’t working, she was having to deal with her dysfunctional home life, including regular sexual abuse at the hands of a relative.  One night, after ending her shift at work, Lisa hopped on her bicycle and rode off.  At the time, she was fully intending to kill herself.  Instead, she found herself being chased and eventually abducted by a man in a car.  That man was Bobby Joe Long and, though Lisa didn’t know it at the time, he has already killed at least ten other women in the Tampa Bay area.

After kidnapping her, Long held Lisa prisoner for 26 hours.  Keeping her bound and blindfolded, Long raped her repeatedly and planned to kill her.  Lisa, however, managed to talk him out of it.  By her own admission, she used the same techniques that she had previously used to survive the years of abuse that she suffered when she was a child.  She promised him that she wouldn’t tell anyone what had happened.  She told him that she understood that he wasn’t a bad guy and that she would even be his friend if he just let her go.

And that’s just what Bobby Joe Long did.  He set her free.  Lisa ran for home, not realizing that her family had reported her missing and that the police were looking for her.  However, once Lisa reached her house, she discovered that neither her family nor the cops believed her.  They assumed that she had run off with a boy and, when things didn’t work out, she came home and made up the kidnapping story to get out of trouble.  The more Lisa tried to explain, the more the police doubted her….

That’s the story that was told in tonight’s Lifetime premiere, Believe Me: The Abduction of Lisa McVey.  Usually, I tend to take a humorous (some would say “snarky”) approach when reviewing Lifetime films but that really wouldn’t be appropriate with this film.  My friend, the writer Trevor Wells, compared this film to Cleveland Abduction and he’s absolutely right.  Much like Cleveland Abduction, Believe Me tells the true story of one strong and underestimated woman who survived the worst experience possible and who, against all odds, managed to create light in the darkness.  It’s not a pleasant film to watch but it is an inspiring one, one that offers up strength to any woman who has ever had to fight to be believed.

Katie Douglas gives a strong and empathetic performance as Lisa McVey.  While the film doesn’t shy away from showing both what she experienced and her struggle with PTSD afterward, it also showcases the strength that helped her to survive both her Hellish childhood and Bobby Joe Long.  It’s that same strength that caused her to never stop demanding that both the police and her family believe her.

Thanks to Lisa McVey, Bobby Joe Long was eventually captured.  He’s currently sitting on Florida’s death row.  As for Lisa, she is now a school resource officer and a motivational speaker.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill (dir by Stephen Tolkin)


I recorded Conrad & Michelle off of Lifetime on September 23rd.

In 2014, 18 year-old Conrad Roy committed suicide in Massachusetts, poisoning himself with carbon monoxide fumes while sitting in his truck.

Conrad was an outstanding athlete and a good student but he has also struggled with social anxiety and depression and had reportedly often insisted to various therapists that he wanted to die.  Some reports stated that Conrad had attempted suicide at least once before, with an attempted drug overdose when he was 17.  Any suicide, regardless of the circumstances, is a tragedy but making Conrad’s story all the more disturbing was that, minutes before his death, he was texting with an acquaintance named Michelle Carter.  Supposedly, a few years earlier, Michelle had talked Conrad out of a suicide attempt.  This time, however, she insisted that he grow through with it.  Even when he texted her that he was scared and that he had gotten out of his truck, Michelle texted back that he needed to get back in truck and go through with what he was planning.

After Conrad’s death, Michelle reportedly used the tragedy to generate as much attention for herself as possible.  She described herself as being Conrad’s girlfriend and his soulmate.  At the same time, Conrad’s friends and family said that Conrad had only met Michelle face-to-face a handful of times and that their relationship was almost entirely conducted online.  Some friends went as far as to say that they had never even heard Conrad mention Michelle’s name and that Conrad had actually been doing better before Michelle started sending him text messages in which she goaded him into committing suicide.

When Michelle was arrested and put on trial, it made national headlines.  Attorneys for the defense argued that Conrad had a history of suicidal behavior and that he was ultimately responsible for his own actions.  The prosecution, on the other hand, argued that Michelle was a narcissist who heartlessly manipulated a vulnerable acquaintance.  In the end, Michelle’s was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.  Specifically, she was convicted because of the text in which she told Conrad to get back in the truck.  In August of 2017, she was sentenced to serve 30 months in prison.

Given the sensational nature of the case and the fact that the trial made national headlines, it’s not particularly shocking that Lifetime would make a movie about it.  Starring Bella Thorne as Michelle and Austin P. McKenzie as Conrad, Conrad & Michelle does a good job of presenting the basic facts of the case.  We watch as Michelle and Conrad first meet while on vacation on Florida and then we follow along as both of them spend the next few years texting each other, taking different psychiatric medications, and attending various therapy groups.  Conrad struggles with his depression while Michelle deals with, among other things, an eating disorder.  After Conrad’s death, we watch as Michelle awkwardly forces herself into the lives of his friends and family.

Some people will probably complain that the film never solidly takes a side as to whether or not Michelle was truly responsible for Conrad’s suicide.  Though we see Michelle texting Conrad to get back in the truck, the film leaves it ambiguous as to whether it was specifically Michelle’s text that caused Conrad to follow through with his suicide.  Still, after Conrad’s suicide, the film leaves no doubt that Michelle relished her new-found fame and her status as a self-declared tragic heroine.  (After learning that Conrad’s suicide note was addressed to her, Michelle brags to her friends that Conrad didn’t write a note to anyone else.  Later, when Michelle sets up a charity softball game in Conrad’s memory, she breathlessly reminds everyone that it was her idea and worries that someone else might try to take credit.)  Bella Thorne does an excellent job in these scenes, playing Michelle as an unstable narcissist who is incapable of understanding why no one else is as excited for her as she is.  In these scenes, Michelle’s monstrous selfishness is revealed and Thorne gives a chilling performance.

Like the story that inspired it, Conrad & Michelle is a sad and disturbing movie and one that I would recommend catching the next time that it’s on.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #195: Long Lost Daughter (dir by Christopher James Lang)


On Friday night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, Long Lost Daughter!

Why Was I Watching It?

First off, let me just say that, considering what the folks on the East Coast have had to deal with over the past two weeks, I feel really guilty about complaining about getting a little bit of rain in Texas.  (And it’s not really a complaint because, to be honest, I love stormy weather!)

That said, it rained all day Friday and it’s supposed to continue to rain through the weekend.  When I was driving home from work, the rain was so bad that I actually had to limit myself to 30 mph.  We’re under flash flood warning right now.  What better way to pass the time when you’re trapped inside by a storm than be watching a Lifetime movie?

What Was It About?

Cathy Rhodes (Molly Hagan) is a successful and acclaimed author of children’s books.  She’s written hundreds of stories about Mr. Poppins, a rabbit who can’t find his way home.  It’s made her a beloved figure in her small town but there are some who find Cathy and her husband (Bates Wilder) to be a little bit strange.  They whisper about how, 20 years earlier, Cathy’s 7 year-old daughter, Michelle, vanished.

Meanwhile, two new arrivals have come to town.  Jonathan (Richard Brancatisano) is an aspiring science fiction writer.  And his wife (Sofia Mattson) is going to help run the education center that Cathy has helped to fund.  It turns out that Jonathan’s wife is 27 years old and has no memory of her mother or her childhood.  And her name is …. Michelle!

Could Michelle be Cathy’s daughter?  That’s certainly what Cathy thinks and she’s willing to do anything to make sure that both her daughter and Mr. Poppins find their way home…

What Worked?

Molly Hagan may not be a household name but I can guarantee you that you would recognize her if you saw her.  She’s been in a countless number of films over the years and she is a truly great character actress.  She’s played so many different characters and she’s been totally convincing every time.  (I think her best-known recent film might be Sully, where she played one of the flight attendants who chanted, “Brace!  Brace!  Head down!  Stay down!”)  Anyway, Hagan does a great job as the Cathy Rhodes, making her both frightening and sympathetic.

Also giving a good performance was Bates Wilder, who played Cathy’s somewhat creepy husband.  Both he and Hagan keep you guessing.

Speaking of keeping you guessing, this film had an ambiguous ending that I absolutely loved.  I won’t spoil it but it was handled very well.  It’s the type of ending that I wish Lifetime would try more often.  Sometime, it’s not necessary to spell everything out.

What Did Not Work?

Could Michelle and Jonathan have been anymore unlikable?  Michelle acted like moving from the city to a small town was the equivalent of moving to a different country.  When Cathy mentioned she was making a casserole, Michelle’s smug response of, “Casserole!” was enough to make me decided that I wouldn’t ever want to know someone like Michelle in real life.

As for Jonathan … well, I lost all sympathy for him when he announced that, for him, being a writer was about business and not art.  “No one ever reads Proust anymore,” he said, at one point.  What a jerk!  Michelle, at least, kinda redeemed herself as the film progressed.  But Jonathan …. well, once a jerk, always a jerk.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Whenever Michelle got annoyed with Jonathan, I was like, “Oh my God!  I feel the exact same way!”

Lessons Learned

Don’t insult Proust.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #194: Her Boyfriend’s Secret (dir by Lisa France)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime movie premiere, Her Boyfriend’s Secret!

Why Was I Watching It?

With a title like that, how couldn’t I watch it!?  Seriously, whenever one of my friends gets a new boyfriend, I immediately start digging up all of their secrets.  I’m like the sassy best friend in a Lifetime movie except for the fact that I don’t get murdered right before the fifth commercial break.

What Was It About?

Melissa (Kelly Sullivan) and Travis (Jordan James Smith) have both built successful careers as home renovators.  In fact, everyone assumes that they must be a couple!  But no, they’re just friends and business colleagues.

In fact, Melissa may have met the one.  His name is John Anderson (Mark Famiglietti) and he’s handsome and charming and he owns a really big house.  Of course, it does seem strange that John is constantly taking business trips.  He claims that he spends his time flying from London to Paris to Geneva but he’s always kind of vague about what he actually does in any of those cities.

And then there’s Carrie (Maiara Walsh), the woman who approaches Melissa one day and informs her that 1) John is actually named Phillip and 2) Phillip/John has a history of stalking his ex-girlfriends!

That’s a lot of secrets but, believe it or not, there’s even more yet to be discovered!

What Worked?

I really liked this one.  Not only was it well-acted but it featured some really nice houses!  As any longtime fan can tell you, a good Lifetime film also features a combination of big melodrama and big houses!  The film’s central mystery was intriguing and Mark Famiglietti brought a convincing mix of creepiness and charm to the role of John.

Though I won’t spoil the nature of her role, Anne Leighton also gave a very good performance.  She’s doesn’t have a lot of screen time but she makes the most of it.

This film also played with the standard Lifetime stalker formula by casting a guy as the nosy best friend.  That actually added a whole new dynamic to all of the expected scenes of Travis digging into John’s background.  Was Travis right to be concerned or was he motivated by something more than just friendship?  The film did a good job of keeping you guessing.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked.  This was an entertaining Lifetime melodrama.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Again, as with all Lifetime films, I related to all of the skeptical and nosy best friends.  If only people would listen to them for once!

Lessons Learned

Just because someone has a big house, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should trust him.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #193: House of Darkness: New Blood (dir by Patrick DeLuca)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime Movie Network premiere, House of Darkness: New Blood!

Why Was I Watching It?

The main reason I was watching it was because it was on Lifetime.

That said, I was also intrigued by the fact that Lifetime was premiering a horror film.  In the past, horror has been one of the few genres that Lifetime has usually avoided.  It’s only been rather recently that Lifetime started to show movies that could even be considered a part of the horror genre and, as a horror aficionado, I’m curious to see what this development will lead to.

Of course, another big reason why I was watching it was because it’s been raining nonstop since Thursday so, for once, I actually spent a Friday night at home.  There’s nothing like watching a horror movie while surrounded by rain, thunder, and lightning!

What Was It About?

Judd (Liam McNeill) has asked Brooke (Kate Stone) to marry him!  Yay!

There’s only a few problems.  For one, Brooke’s creepy son, Dylan (Jake T. Getman), doesn’t seem to like Judd that much.  Secondly, Brooke has yet to meet Judd’s mother, Elaine (Hilary Momberger-Powers).  Elaine, it turns out, lives in a big house out in the country, a house that’s full of secrets and — you guessed it — darkness!  When Judd takes Brooke and Dylan out to the house, Elaine doesn’t seem to be happy to see any of them.  Judd says that it’s just a symptom of Elaine’s dementia but is that all there is to it?

Soon, Brooke is hearing weird noises, seeing dark shadows, and having terrible nightmares.  Judd says that it’s probably just a side effect of the sleep aid that she’s taking but Brooke isn’t too sure.  Is it all in Brooke’s head or has she truly discovered …. A HOUSE OF DARKNESS!?

What Worked?

There were a few effectively creepy moments.  The house was big and spooky and full of ominous atmosphere and Hilary Momberger-Powers did a good job as Elaine.  She kept you guessing and off-balance.

What Did Not Work?

House of Darkness ran into the same problem that’s haunted a lot of made-for-TV horror films.  It’s difficult to maintain suspense when you the story has to come to a stop every 15-to-20 minutes for a commercial break.  Every time that I found myself starting to get invested in the storyline, it was suddenly time for that Humira commercial where that guy meets his girlfriend’s parents for the first time.

The fact that it was on television also meant that the horror often had to be a bit low-key.  There was one hanging scene that was effectively horrific but otherwise, the film often felt a bit too restrained to be fully effective.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I know that it’s usually said that people are stupid for not just leaving an obviously haunted house but, to be honest, I’d probably stay even longer than Brooke did.  I mean, it’s not every day you get to deal with the paranormal.

Lessons Learned

Always check the lights before moving into a new house.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #192: His Perfect Obsession (dir by Alexandre Carrière)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime premiere, His Perfect Obsession!

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

Plus, I was kinda hoping that it would be like a special Labor Day movie.  Since I’m still not sure what Labor Day is actually supposed to celebrate, I thought maybe His Perfect Obsession would provide some clues.  (Unfortunately, it did not.)

 What Was It About?

Bart (Brendan Murray) is an accountant with a problem.  He’s obsessed with both his client, Allison (Arianne Zucker), and her blind teenage daughter Abigail (Ali Skovbye).  However, Allison doesn’t want to date him and Abigail doesn’t really seem to like him that much either.  Even after Bart murders Allison’s creep of an ex, Allison still doesn’t want to go out with him.  She’d rather go out with a sleazy real estate agent.

What is a crazy sociopath like Bart to do?  He tries drinking at the local bar but the bartender keeps getting in his business.  He tries murdering his mother but that really doesn’t do much for him, either.  Finally, Bart remembers that he does have that remote cabin that hardly anyone knows about…

What Worked?

His Perfect Obsession was filmed in Canada and, visually, it made good use of the snowy landscape.  I especially liked a scene at the start of the film where Bart approached Abigail outside of her house and they had an awkward conversation while the frozen ground glowed in the night behind them.

The performances were all excellent.  Brendan Murray was wonderfully creepy as Bart and Arianne Zucker and Ali Skovbye were both perfectly cast as the mother and daughter.

A lot of us watching online especially liked the character of Ben (Scott Gibson), the world’s most heroic bartender.  If Captain America got a job working in a bar, he’d be a lot like Ben.

Finally, there was a character named Lance Lancaster (Seann Gallagher), who everyone liked because his name was Lance Lancaster.  That’s like one of the greatest names ever!

What Did Not Work?

In general, I’m not a fan of any movie where the final half of the film is taken up with scenes of people being held hostage.  A hostage situation always seems to stall whatever narrative momentum the film has been building up and that’s what happened with His Perfect Obsession.

The scene where Bart murders his mother was so drawn out that the scene itself almost became extremely unpleasant and rather icky to watch.  I know that might sound strange coming from a self-confessed horror fanatic like me but the scene was just way too sadistic for a Lifetime film.  As of late, Lifetime seems to be trying to be a bit more edgy as far as violence is concerned but that’s really not why people watch Lifetime.  Lifetime melodrama should be fun, not traumatic.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I’ve never actually worked with a professional accountant.  My sisters do my taxes for me and, when it comes to money, I find that it’s better to spend it now and hold off on worrying until later.  So, I really couldn’t relate to that part of the movie.

What I did relate to was the relationship between Allison and Abigail, which felt very real and was well-played by both actresses.  It reminded me of the type of relationship that I had with my mom.

Lessons Learned

Use TurboTax.