Cleaning Out The DVR: A Night To Regret (dir by Tim Shell)

I recorded A Night To Regret off of Lifetime on June 19th, 2018!

Poor Chelsea Bilson (Mollee Gray)!

She’s got a lot to deal with.  She’s a college student who is always busy.  Her mother (Marguerite Moreau) is pressuring her to become an attorney, constantly asking her about her grades, and continually talking about how expensive Chelsea’s education is turning out to be.  Her boyfriend has just dumped her, specifically because Chelsea doesn’t ever seem to have any time for him.

All Chelsea wants to do is direct a movie but even that’s become a struggle.  Because her mother is only interested in financing Chelsea’s education, Chelsea is not only having to pay for the movie herself but she’s also having to do it all without her mother finding out what’s going on.  Can you blame Chelsea for just wanting to spend a night unwinding?

It’s while she’s out with her friend Sara (Gigi Zumbado) that Chelsea runs into Mila (Kirsten Pfeiffer) and Liam (Tyler Sellers).  Mila and Chelsea were childhood friends.  As Chelsea explains it, she and Mila were always getting in trouble together.  Mila eventually ended up living on the streets but it appears that she’s doing much better now.  Now, she has expensive clothes and a nice apartment.  And she even has a handsome business partner in Liam.

What is Mila’s business?

She’s a webcam girl and, in Lifetime films, that always means trouble!

Seeing that Chelsea needs money and some confidence boosting, Mila tries to turn Chelsea into a webcam girl.  It’s not really something Chelsea is interested in doing, though she does make a thousand dollars as the result of one eager fan.  That allows her to pay for one more day of shooting, which is a good thing.

What isn’t such a good thing is that it soon becomes apparent that Chelsea’s fan is more than a little unstable and obsessed.  Even after Chelsea makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with him, he still tries to contact her.  He sends her a message letting her know that he likes what she’s wearing.  Chelsea looks outside her bedroom window, just in time to catch a truck driving away.

Meanwhile, Chelsea’s mom has a new friend!  His name is Jake Peters (Kevin McNamara) and he’s a personal trainer!  He has a disconcerting habit of showing up wherever Chelsea happens to be.  Jake seems friendly but there’s something a bit off about him.  He’s a little bit too friendly and he tends to speak in weird self-help clichés.  And, of course, there’s the fact that Jake murdered his mother at the start of the film…

Yep, Jake has some issues.  And it’s not a spoiler to tell you that he’s also Chelsea’s stalker.  He’s got plans to make Chelsea’s one night as a webcam girl a night to regret!

I had to work the film’s title into that last paragraph because I think it’s a pretty good title.  As soon as you hear those words, “A Night To Regret,” you’re immediately intrigued.  A Night To Remember ended with the Titanic hitting an iceberg.  How will A Night To Regret end?

Well, in A Night To Regret, the iceberg is Jake, who is a thoroughly creepy and unsettling character, so much so that you have to feel that both Chelsea and her mother were incredibly naive to not immediately turn and run the first time that they saw Jake approaching them.  Jake is the type who will murder a random passerby, smirk about it, and then not understand why some people are turned off by his behavior.  Kevin McNamara does a great job playing Jake, turning him into a memorable Lifetime villain.

I also liked the performances of Kirsten Pfeiffer and Tyler Sellers are Mila and Liam.  (Interestingly enough, Liam is an anagram of Mila and vice versa.)  Pfeiffer kept you guessing as to whether Mila was just a concerned friend or if her motives were more sinister while Sellers was so charming as Liam that you regretted he wasn’t in more of the movie.  Also giving a good performance was Tina Huang, who projected a wonderful, no-bullshit attitude as Detective Morita.

A Night To Regret is a typical stalker flick but the performances of McNamara, Pfeiffer, Sellers, and Huang keep things interesting.

Cleaning Out The DVR: My Husband’s Secret Life (dir by Philippe Gagnon)

I recorded My Husband’s Secret Life off of Lifetime on March 25th.


That looks like quite an accident, doesn’t it?

Lying on the ground is Freddy (Brett Donahue).  Freddy owns a flower store so you might wonder how exactly he ended up lying in the middle of the street, covered in blood.  Some of it could have to do with the fact that Freddy is the husband who is mentioned, in the title, as having a secret.  Freddy may seem like a nice guy but he sure is shady about certain aspects of his past.  For instance, why does he carry a lighter that was made in Russia?  And when he talks in his sleep, why does he speak with slightly foreign accent?  And then there’s his slightly creepy and rather overprotective mother.

As for why he’s lying in the middle of the road, he’s just been run by a man named Arthur (Joe Cobden).  Arthur drinks too much and is frequently a nervous wreck.  Interestingly enough, he once had a respectable job and a strong family.  Whenever Freddy and Arthur meet, it’s on one of those park benches that practically screams, “Secret spy meeting place!”

Hovering over him is Jennifer Jones (Kara Killmer).  Jennifer is Freddy’s wife and, to be honest, she was a bit concerned about her marriage even before Freddy ended up in the middle of the street.  They’ve been married for seven years and yet, there’s still things that Jennifer doesn’t really known about Freddy.  And when she just happens to spot him in the city, getting yelled at by an angry woman, Jennifer’s suspicions become even stronger.  It gets even worse when she twice tries to call him and, after first ignoring her, he answers the second time and blatantly lies about where he is.

Later, when she confronts him, he admits that he was lying about where he was but then asks her why she didn’t call him out if she knew he was lying.  I mean, how dare she allow him to lie!?  That’s classic gaslighting and enough to make everyone watching the film shout, “Get away from him!”

But, shortly afterward, Freddy ends up in the middle of the street and, suddenly, the whole idea of leaving him gets a lot more awkward.  Freddy’s in a coma now and how can you leave someone when they’re in a coma?  While Jennifer waits for Freddy to wake up, her mother-in-law continues to push her away.  What was Jennifer’s husband hiding and why is his mother searching through his house in the middle of the night?  Jennifer is determined to find out!

In all probability, you’ll figure it out long before Jennifer does.  I mean, honestly, when a guy starts speaking in a foreign accent in his sleep, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that he’s probably not who he says he is.  In fact, it takes a certain suspension of disbelief to accept that Freddy could have fooled Jennifer for all this time.

But — hey, this is Lifetime and Lifetime is all about suspending your disbelief and having a good time!  Kara Killmer gives a sympathetic lead performance and Joe Cobden has a few good scenes as the perpetually shaky Arthur.  At its most effective, My Husband’s Secret Life deals with a question that we’ve all asked (whether we admit it or not): How well do we know the people we love?

My Husband’s Secret Life is also known as Sleeper.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Family Vanished (dir by Mark Sanderson)

I recorded Family Vanished off of the Lifetime Movie Network on July 6th!

“Give me my wedding ring, you white trash bitch!”

— Lisa (Kelly Packard) in Family Vanished (2018)

Here’s two lessons that I learned from Family Vanished:

  1. Be careful how much information you post online.

Seriously, Lisa (Kelly Packard) thought it would be a good idea to post how much she had sold a painting for online.  She also thought it would be a good idea to let the world know that she, her husband (Madison Dirks), and her daughter (Elisa Luthman) would all be in Hawaii on a work vacation.

What happened as a result?  Well, Mike (Todd Cahoon), Carol (Jennifer Taylor), and their daughter (Megan Littler) saw Lisa’s posting.  And they decided that Lisa and her family must have a lot of money.  So, they broke into the family’s house.  They lived there for several days.  They tried on everyone’s clothes.  They slept in everyone’s beds.  They made the house their own and, since they never took off their black gloves, they managed to do it without leaving behind any DNA or fingerprint evidence.

Of course, they quickly discovered that Lisa and her family wasn’t as rich as they assumed.  In fact, a quick perusal of Lisa’s diary revealed that the family itself wasn’t particularly happy.  Still, Mike and Carol were determined to get something for all of their trouble so they stayed in the house until Lisa and the family returned from their vacation.

Second lesson learned:

2. You can only push people so far before they snap.

Sure, Mike and Carol had a lot of fun tormenting Lisa and her family.  They revealed that Lisa had been unfaithful.  They forced Lisa’s husband to bark like a dog.  They taunted Lisa’s daughter for having won so many trophies in school.  Mike and Carol had a lot of fun but they failed to consider just how far some people will go to get revenge.

When their initial ordeal finally ended, Lisa and her husband were not happy to learn that the police had no real leads as to where Mike and Carol went off to.  So, they decided to investigate on their own.  And when they did track down Mike and Carol, well, let’s just say that even the most normal-seeming people can be pushed too far…

So, Family Vanished was a film that I had mixed feelings about.  I’m not a huge fan of movies about people being held hostage.  Films about hostage situations are always a bit too predictable for me.  It always starts with the hostages pleading for their lives and then the nosy neighbor comes over and there’s the big tense scene where the main hostage has to try to get rid of him while someone stands behind the front door with a gun or a knife pointed at his back.  The hostage takers always start taunting the hostages.  I’ve seen it so many times that I just automatically get bored with the situation.

So, the first half of Family Vanished didn’t do much for me but then Lisa and her husband set out to get revenge and it became this totally different, wonderfully over-the-top movie!  I loved watching Kelly Packard and Madison Dirks get mean and vengeful.  Kelly Packard has appeared in many Lifetime movies but I think this is the first one where she actually gets to kick some ass and both she and Dirks seemed to be having a lot of fun with the role reversal.  Add to that, Mike and Carol were so obnoxiously cruel that it was impossible not to get some guilty pleasure out watching Lisa demanded the return of her wedding ring.

With its theme of a terrible crime leading to an even worse revenge, Family Vanished is what I imagine a Wes Craven-directed Lifetime movie would have been like.   It’s Lifetime’s Last House On The Left.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #186: Killer Caregiver (dir by John Murlowski)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime movie premiere, Killer Caregiver!

Why Was I Watching It?

Why not?

What Was It About?

While visiting one of her clients, Mariah Wilson (Nicole Hayden) is shocked when an accident leads to not only his death but also to her breaking her arm.  With months of physical therapy ahead of her, Mariah hires a home caregiver.  Tara (Camila Banus) seems like she’s perfect.  She gets along with Mariah’s estranged husband, Greg (George Stults).  She helps Mariah exercise her arm.  Most importantly, Mariah’s son, Jacob (Jaeden Bettencourt), loves her!

It all seems perfect, except … uh oh!  It turns out that Tara is the daughter of Mariah’s dead client and she’s out for revenge!

What Worked?

Oh my God, the houses were to die for!  Seriously, one of the things that I love about Lifetime films is that they always take place in these huge houses, the majority of which have a pool in the back yard.  But, even by the standards of Lifetime, this film featured some nice houses.  In fact, Greg and Mariah’s house was so nice that I was half expecting Greg to reveal that he worked as a money launderer for the mob.  But no, Greg’s job had something to do with computers.  Having seen this film, I’m now encouraging my boyfriend to get an IT-related job because I could have a lot of fun with a house that big.

However, it wasn’t just Greg and Mariah who had a nice house.  Tara also had a really nice house, too.  For that matter, when Greg, Mariah, and Jacob were forced to stay in a motel for a night, the motel looked really, really good.

From her first appearance, Tara established herself as being a classic Lifetime villain and Camila Banus really threw herself into the role.  From the minute Tara showed up, she was like, “This is my film and now, everyone’s at my mercy!”  A film like this is only as good as its villain and Tara was a great one.

What Did Not Work?

What happened to Eugene?  The well-meaning but intellectually disabled groundskeeper (played by David Meyers) seemed like he was going to be an important character but then he just kinda disappeared.  It was hard not to feel that the character deserved a resolution to his subplot, as minor as it may have been.

Other than that, it all worked!  I mean, I could sit here and wonder if perhaps Tara could have come with a simpler revenge scheme (spoiler: she could have) but that would be kind of silly on my part.  Melodrama is one of the reasons why I love Lifetime movies!  Besides, how can you go wrong when you’ve got a great psycho and a big house?

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

While I personally would never plot anyone’s downfall, I still found myself admiring how organized Tara was about it.  You could tell that she probably made out a To-Do List before she set about destroying Mariah’s life:

  1. Become a caregiver
  2. Get hired
  3. Brainwash Jacob
  4. Drug Mariah…

And so on and so forth.  At least, that’s what I would do.

Lessons Learned

With enough planning and preparation, there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.

Plus, computer people make hella money!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #185: Did I Kill My Mother? (dir by David Bush)

Last night, along with Prescription For Danger, I watched Did I Kill My Mother? on Lifetime!

Why Was I Watching It?

I actually watched Did I Kill My Mother when it originally premiered, was back on May 12th.  Unfortunately, at that time, I was suffering from some sinus and allergy problems that pretty much knocked me out for that entire month so I didn’t write a review.  Fortunately, Lifetime was kind enough to give me a second chance at that review by rebroadcasting the film last night!

Thanks, Lifetime!

What’s It About?

At one time, Natalie Romero (Megan Park) had a great future.  She was going to leave the small town where she grew up and she was going to go to law school!  But then, one night, her father mysteriously died.  Natalie’s mother, Laura (Alice Davis Johnson), became convinced that her husband was murdered by local mobsters and insisted on investigating the case even after the police announced that it was closed.  As for Natalie, she started drinking and hanging out with losers like Ethan (Jordan Salloum).

One night, when Natalie comes home drunk from the local bar, she has just enough time for a very loud argument with her mother before she goes upstairs and passes out.  When Natalie wakes up, she discovers that her mother has been murdered!  Despite the fact that the chief of police (Dane Rhodes) is a family friend, Natalie quickly senses that Detective Monroe (Austin Highsmith) considers her to be the number one suspect.

Natalie must now not only solve two murders but also clear her name.  The town is full of suspects.  Everyone knows that Ethan was obsessed with Natalie and disliked her mom.  There’s a true crime author (Stephen Colletti) with a shady past poking around.  Even Natalie’s best friend (Karina Willis) seems to be awfully eager to tell Natalie what to say and do.  And, of course, Natalie can’t remember what she did or didn’t do on the night of the murder.  Could Monroe be correct?  Could Natalie have murdered her own mother?

What Worked?

This was a really entertaining movie.  Along with giving you two mysteries for the price of one, it also featured a memorable collection of potential murderers.  While watching the film, it was easy to imagine that any one of them could have been the killer.

Out of the talented cast, Stephen Colletti really stood out.  He played the struggling writer with just the right combination of rakishness and dorkiness.  The enthusiasm that he brought to uncovering clues was a lot of fun to watch.  Colletti’s best moment?  When he commented that a recently deceased character was an “idiot.”  “Sorry,” he tells the dead body, with such sincerity that you believe his regret.

The script was full of witty dialogue.  This was one of those films where everyone — from the lead character to the most minor of rolls — had the gift of snark.

What Did Not Work?

It all worked!  This was an entertaining Lifetime murder mystery!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to the character of Natalie’s best friend, played by Karina Willis.  Like her, I enjoy solving mysteries.  When she started to excitedly explain what it meant when a person went to the funeral of someone who they were suspected of having killed, I was right there with her.

(She was right, too!  The guilty party always comes to the funeral.)

Lessons Learned

Murders are more fun to solve when you work with your friends!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #184: Prescription For Danger (dir by Caroline Labrèche)

Last night, I watched Prescription for Danger on Lifetime!

Why Was I Watching It?

Much like The Wrong Daughter, this was another Lifetime movie that I somehow missed when it originally aired.  Lifetime was nice enough to rebroadcast it last night, which gave me a chance to get caught up!

What Was It About?

Imagine two people who appear to have it all.

On the one hand, you have Ivy (Joanne Kelly).  Ivy is a smart and successful businesswoman.  She’s driven, often to the point of distraction.  She’s put her personal life on hold and it’s paid off with a lot of success at a young age.  Of course, as a result, she’s still single.  And she’s been suffering from terrible migraines ever since college.  When she finally pushes herself too far, she collapses and finally has to go to the hospital.

And then there’s Dr. Mark Ryan (Shaun Benson).  At first glance, he appears to be intelligent, kind, professional, and dedicated.  Of course, there is a woman who is suing him but Dr. Ryan swears that she’s crazy.  And Dr. Ryan has been fined in the past for ethical lapses but then again, who hasn’t?

When Dr. Ryan examines Ivy, he announces to her that she has brain cancer but that he has the perfect cure!  But what if Ivy doesn’t have cancer?  What if Dr. Ryan is lying to her and giving her placebos just because he’s a manipulative sociopath?

And, if that’s bad enough, what if Ivy finds herself falling in love with him?

What Worked?

Joanne Kelly and Shaun Benson both did a good job in the leading roles.  Benson, who previously played another Lifetime psycho in Kept Woman, was convincing both as a caring doctor and a totally unhinged madman.  You understood why Ivy was willing to trust the doctor and, at the same time, you couldn’t wait to see him get his final comeuppance.

Director Caroline Labrèche did a great job of visually putting us into Ivy’s mind, especially when she was on the verge of collapsing at the start of the film.  As melodramatic as the plot was, Labreche actually told her story in a relatively low-key fashion, one that was certainly different from what we typically expect from a Lifetime movie.

What Did Not Work?

At the same time, the film’s relatively low-key approach was something of a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, you had to appreciate the fact that the film was attempting to take its story seriously.  At the same time, as a regular Lifetime viewer, I couldn’t help but regret that the film didn’t take the opportunity to go totally over-the-top.  Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the Stalked By My Doctor films.

(Then again — and this is why you should probably ignore most critics — if the film had gone over-the-top, it’s likely that people online would have complained that it was just trying to be another Stalked By My Doctor.  Ultimately, the only critic that matters is you, the viewer.)

“OMG!  Just like me!” Moments

I related to Ivy, in both her drive to be successful and her hesitation about dealing with hospitals and doctors.  If, God forbid, I was every told that I needed chemotherapy, I would have had much the same reaction as Ivy.  Joanne Kelly did a good job of bringing her to life,

 Lessons Learned

Trust no one, which seems to be a pretty common lesson to be learned from Lifetime films.  If you didn’t already distrust doctors as a result of the Stalked By My Doctor films, you certainly will after Prescription for Danger.  (Except, of course, for the doctor who I see for my ADD, because he is seriously a prince!)

Cleaning Out The DVR: Lethal Admirer (dir by Craig Goldstein)

I recorded Lethal Admirer off of Lifetime on April 15th.

My friends and I have long debated which episode of Boy Meets World is the worst.

My friend Jen has often said that the worst episode was the one where Eric wanted to adopt a kid and she has a pretty good point, there.  Some others have said that the worst episode was the one where Cory acts like an immature jackass when his mom dares to give birth on a day that he wanted to spend exclusively with Topanga and, again, I think they have a valid point.

Speaking for myself. I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities.

First off, there’s the episode where Shawn joins a cult and Cory starts grabbing him and going, “This is a hug, Shawn!  THIS!  THIS IS A HUG!”  The other one is the episode where Cory and Topanga crash a complete stranger’s wedding and Cory makes their special day all about him.

You know which one I’m talking about.  Cory and Topanga know no one at the wedding.  The only reason that they’re there is so they can get ideas for the own wedding.  Still, Cory feels the needs to stand up during the ceremony and give a lengthy speech about how creepily obsessed he is with his fiancée and how he hopes that the newlyweds will be as much in love with each other as Cory is with Topanga.

The worst thing about this scene is that everyone at the wedding is touched by Cory’s speech.  Nobody says, “And you are?”  No one questions why some strange teenager is making the ceremony all about himself.  No one asks why Cory is suddenly the world’s authority on love.  Add to that, beyond Cory being incredibly self-centered, it’s just an extremely awkward moment.  I mean, it’s bad enough to crash someone’s wedding but then to interrupt with some halfassed speech about yourself?  You feel embarrassed for Cory, for everyone at the wedding, and especially for Topanga.

Well, believe it or not, Lethal Admirer contains a scene that is just as thoroughly awkward as Cory’s wedding speech.  This scene also takes place at a wedding.  Unlike Cory and Topanga, Lloyd (Drew Seeley) is not crashing the wedding.  He was actually invited to attend by his friend and former co-worker, Megan (Karissa Lee Staples).  The only reason Megan invited Lloyd to come with her is because her boyfriend, Chris (Brian Ames), broke his leg when he fell off a ladder.  Megan considers Lloyd to be a friend and even wants to set him up with her sister (Courtney Hope).  However, Lloyd is convinced that Megan loves him.  As Lloyd explains it, his mother has always told him that he has to take big chances and Lloyd does just that at the wedding reception.

And, oh my God!  Anyone who has ever had a friend declare their love at the worst possible moment will be cringing with flashbacks!

Of course, it’s not just that Lloyd has no clue about how to socially interact with people.  It’s also that Lloyd’s a little bit crazy.  In fact, he’s just crazy enough to have killed both Megan’s former boyfriend and her current boss.  Remember that ladder that Chris fell off of?  Well, that was no accident.  Nor was it an accident that, after Megan moved across the country, Lloyd suddenly showed up in her new city.  Lloyd is obsessed with Megan and Megan, for whatever reason, is pretty much clueless until it’s too late.

It’s a typical Lifetime movie scenario but Lethal Admirer is distinguished by a script that makes the very wise decision not to take itself too seriously.  It never becomes a full-blown comedy like A Deadly Adoption but the script of Lethal Admirer features enough one-liners and random nonsequiturs to indicate that the filmmakers were determined to have a little bit fun with the typical Lifetime formula.  I especially liked the interactions between Megan and her sister.  Their relationship rang true.

Also ringing true was the character of Lloyd, who was definitely strange but also just charming enough that you could legitimately accept the idea of Megan wanting to be his friend.  Drew Seeley provided an indelible portrait of a nerd scorned in this film.  His little smile when Megan assured him that he could pass for an intellectual hipster was both deeply creepy and kind of sweet at the same time.

Lethal Admirer was a good Lifetime flick.  If nothing else, it should be shown to everyone as an example of what not to do at a wedding.