Lifetime Film Review: Deadly Daughter Switch (dir by Ben Meyerson)


Does it never occur to anyone in a Lifetime movie to not let a stranger move into their house?

That was my main thought as, earlier today, I watched Deadly Daughter Switch.  Deadly Daughter Switch, which I DVR’d off of the Lifetime Movie Network back in April, tells the story of two families.  One family is rich and lives in a really nice house and sends their daughter to a really nice school.  The other family is not rich, which means that they live in a slightly smaller house and the mother has to work at a coffee shop.

When Brooke (Lindsay Hartley) and Carter Jenkins (Matthew Pohlkamp) discover that their teenage daughter, Hailey (Tu Morrow), is not actually their daughter, they take their story to the media.  They ask that anyone who was born on the same night and at the same hospital as Hailey take a DNA test.  It turns out that Hailey is actually the daughter of Alexis (Hannah Barefoot) and that Alexis has been raising Brooke’s biological daughter, Breanne (Jane Widdop)!

If that’s not complicated enough, a counselor at the hospital comes up with the bright idea that Hailey should spend time with Alexis while Breanne should spend time with Brooke and then the girls can decide by whom they ultimately want to be raised.  Alexis points out, quite reasonably in my honest opinion, that Brooke obviously has more money than her and that she probably lives in a better school district and that the end result of this experiment will probably be Brooke having two daughters and Alexis having no one.  Still, they all agree to take the counselor’s advice because I guess the counselor is the voice of God or something and you have to do what she says even if it doesn’t make any sense.

Anyway, it turns out that Alexis was right about Breanne wanting to get away from her.  However, it’s not just that Alexis has less money than Brooke and Carter.  It’s also that Alexis is a little bit insane.  Alexis loses her job at the coffee shop after she kills her boss.  Then Alexis kills the volleyball coach who she claims is Breanne’s biological father.  Then Alexis kills her alcoholic, white trash boyfriend.  Alexis, of course, manages to make all of these deaths look like accidents because Alexis may be poor-ish and she may be dangerously unstable but she’s not stupid.

Anyway, seeing as how everyone in her life is dead, the Carters invite Alexis to come stay with them.  “Do you think we trust Alexis too much?” Brooke asks Carter.  Gee, Brooke, why would you ask that?  Is it because Alexis is obviously plotting to murder you?

Anyway, if it sounds like I’m being critical of Deadly Daughter Switch, I’m not.  I actually rather enjoyed it.  A part of loving Lifetime films is that you come to accept all of the strange premises and the melodramatic plot twists.  You don’t ask why.  You don’t question logic.  You just accept it and follow it to its conclusion.  These films are meant to be the cinematic equivalent of a paperback novel that read over the course of an afternoon.  Hence, the more melodramatic the better.  Hannah Barefoot was an energetic killer and the Carter house was really big and nice and it looked like it would be a fun place to live.  And really, isn’t that all you need?

Seriously, though, don’t invite just anyone to come live with you.  You never know what they might be secretly plotting.

Lifetime Film Review: He’s Out To Get You (dir by Nadeem Soumah)


So, put yourself in the shoes of Megan (Samaire Armstrong).

You had a wonderful husband.  You had a young child.  You were out driving one day and, because you took your eyes off the road, you ended up having a head-on collision with another vehicle.  You survived.  Your husband did not.  Your child is dead.  What do you do?

Well, Megan decides to check herself into a mental hospital and it’s there that she stays for the next four years.  Because she checked herself in, she can also check herself out.  Eventually, she decides to do just that.  Her doctor thinks that Megan isn’t ready to reenter society but Megan is determined to return to her hometown and reunite with her brother.

Her brother, Greg, lives in a house on a hill that overlooks the ocean.  It’s a big house that towers over the otherwise dead end small town below.  As Duke (Rob Mayes), the local bartender puts it, it doesn’t look like it belongs in the town.  Greg has lived in the house since the death of his and Megan’s parents but when Megan arrives, Greg is nowhere to be found!

When Mega asks around town, everyone insists that they’ve never heard of this mysterious Greg.  At first, Megan thinks that it might be because Greg was always a bit of a recluse.  But, as the days drags on and she can still find no sign of her bother, Megan starts to think that something has happened to Greg.  Could it be a conspiracy or could it all be coincidence?

Or ….. is it possible that Megan never had a brother to begin with!?  That’s certainly what the unhelpful sheriff (Bart Johnson) seems to think.  In fact, the only person who seems to have any faith in Megan is Duke but Duke has a shady history of his own.  Duke not only is a former burglar but he has plans that require more money than he probably possesses.  Is Duke to be trusted or is he lying about what he knows?

And who put that rattlesnake in Megan’s car!?

Yes, the plot of He’s Out To Get You raises a lot of questions.  They’re all answered and some of the answers are more satisfactory than others.  This is one of those films that sets up an intriguing mystery but which doesn’t quite come up with a satisfying solution.  To be honest, though, none of that really matters because — OH MY GOD, THE HOUSE IS FREAKING GORGEOUS!

I have often stated on this site that one of the main things that I love about Lifetime films is seeing the huge houses in which they take place.  I mean, Lifetime has featured a lot of truly stunning homes.  But I don’t know if Lifetime has ever featured house quite as impressive as the one in He’s Out To Get You.  Seriously, this house is huge and it’s tastefully decorated and it has a nice pool and, most importantly, the view is absolutely to die for!  Would I kill to own that house?  Well, maybe not quite but I’d definitely consider it.

As for the rest of the film, it’s well-acted and the villains are properly hissable.  I liked Duke, the morally ambiguous bartender and I thought Rob Mayes did a great job with the role.  That said, the house is definitely the star.

Seriously, it’s beautiful.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #188: Killer Twin (dir by David Langlois)


Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime original film, Killer Twin!

Why Was I Watching It?

Well, it was on Lifetime, of course.

Plus, I love movies about evil twins!

What Was It About?

As babies, twin sisters Amber and Kendra were both abandoned at the same orphanage.  The head of the orphanage, Eunice (Bronwen Smith), took an instant dislike to Amber but always liked Kendra.  When it looked like the sisters had a chance to be adopted, Eunice arranged for Kendra to go off with new parents while Amber remained at the orphanage.

30 years later and Kendra doesn’t even remember that she had a sister.  However, Amber remembers.  Kendra has a great life, with a good job and a nice husband (Jason Cermak) and a big house.  Amber has … well, Amber has a lot of bitterness.  When Amber manages to track down Kendra, she sets out to make her sister’s life a living Hell.  That means breaking into her house, ruining her credit, lusting after her husband, and … even murder!

(They couldn’t call it Killer Twin if one of the twins wasn’t a killer!)

What Worked?

Occasionally, a supporting character will pop up in one of these movies and, despite having limited screen time, they’ll become something of a cause célèbre  for those of us watching.  In Killer Twin, that character was Marvin (Nelson Wong).  Marvin was a totally nice, friendly, and professional guy who worked at a bank.  When he suspected that Amber might be imitating her sister, Amber reacted by hitting him in the head with a safe deposit box and then running out of the bank.

Now, here’s the thing.  Amber hit Marvin pretty hard.  A lot of us were convinced that Marvin was dead.  BUT NO!  Marvin not only lived but he went back to his desk and called the police!  YAY MARVIN!  After that happened, I think we all definitely wanted Justice for Marvin.

As for the rest of this film, it was a good and entertaining Lifetime movie.  It was totally over-the-top, melodramatic, and fun.  Lindsay Hartley was obviously having a ball getting to play two totally opposite characters and director David Langlois and cinematography Jan Klompje brought some visual flair to the story.  There was one shot in particular, in which Amber seemed to literally emerge from the Seattle fog, that was especially impressive.  Visually, Lifetime films have come a long way.

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked!  If you can’t enjoy a good killer twin movie, I worry about you.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

You know, at the start of the movie, I was pretty much Team Amber.  I mean, I went through a whole period of time when I only wore black and I refused to smile and I’m actually kind of amazed that people put up with me while all that was going on.  I knew that Amber was serious about her scheme when she removed her nose ring because seriously, nose rings are almost as painful to take out as they are to put in!  I speak from personal experience.

But then, of course, Amber hit Marvin and I lost sympathy for her.  Leave Marvin alone!

Lessons Learned

Marvin is indestructible and evil twin movies are always fun!

What Lisa Watched Last Night #178: Evil Doctor (dir by Brian Skiba)


On Sunday night, immediately after watching Twin Betrayal, I watched and, working with TSL contributor Case Wright, live tweeted a film called Evil Doctor!

Why Was I Watching It?

The first reason was an obvious one.  It was a Lifetime movie and, as our regular readers know, there’s no way that I would ever miss the chance to watch a Lifetime film.

The other reason was that the film was named Evil Doctor, which made it sound like the origin story of perhaps the greatest MCU villain of all time.  As a general rule, any Lifetime film that has the word “evil” in the title is going to turn out to be good.  Evil is right up there with “Bad,” “Confessions,” and “…at 17” as far as words in Lifetime movie titles are concerned.

What Was It About?

Everyone wants something.

Aubrey Lewis (Jen Lilley) just wants to have her baby in peace.

Aubrey’s husband, Matt (Corin Nemec), wants to be a respected television writer, even if he is stuck writing for a sitcom called Family Phun.

And what does Dr. Natalie Barnes (Dina Meyer) want?  She wants to have a baby and she wants a baby now!  She also wants to deal with all of the unresolved issues that she had with her dead father, who happened to look just like Matt!  What better solution to Natalie’s problems than seduce Matt, steal Aubrey’s baby, and kill anyone who gets in her way?

Seriously, she’s not called an evil doctor for nothing.

What Worked?

Obviously, with a film like this, success is going to depend on how effectively the title character is played.  Fortunately, Dina Meyer really threw herself into the role of the evil doctor, kidnapping babies, seducing starlets, and murdering anyone who looked at her the wrong way.  Dina Meyer has always done a good job when she’s been cast as a Lifetime movie psycho and Evil Doctor was no different.  As well, Corin Nemec and Jen Lilley were likable as the objects of her obsession.

Evil Doctor was one of those Lifetime films that showed no hesitation about going totally and completely over-the-top.  Between the evil doctor plotting and the wayward husband trying not to get caught and the poor wife just trying to have her baby in peace, there was not one ounce of drama that this film did not explore.  It was outlandish, flamboyant, silly, and a hell of a lot fun!

What Did Not Work?

I think that the film missed a huge opportunity by not recruiting Eric Roberts to reprise his character from Stalked By My Doctor in a cameo appearance.  I would have ended the film with Matt and Aubrey going to see their new doctor and discovering Dr. Beck waiting for them in his office.  That would have been a legendary ending!

(For the record, according to the imdb, Eric Roberts currently has 57 films that are either currently filming or in post-production.  That has nothing to do with Evil Doctor but it is a fun piece of trivia.)

Other than the glaring lack of Eric Roberts, everything worked in Evil Doctor.  I mean, let’s be honest.  When you watch a film with a title like Evil Doctor, you know what you’re going to get.  You watch a film like this because you want to embrace the melodrama and you’re looking forward to trying to predict every outlandish twist.  Evil Doctor delivered exactly what it promised.

“Oh my God!  Just Like Me!” Moments

I totally related to Janelle (Kelsey Griswold), who was Aubrey’s sister and who moved in to help around the house while Aubrey was pregnant.  Janelle had this wonderfully sarcastic, no-bullshit approach to life, to which I totally related.  Janelle disliked almost everyone who came by the house and never made any attempt to hide that fact.

Lessons Learned

Always trust your sister’s instincts.

Cleaning Out The DVR: Deadly Exchange (dir by Tom Shell)


(Hi there!  So, as you may know because I’ve been talking about it on this site all year, I have got way too much stuff on my DVR.  Seriously, I currently have 181 things recorded!  I’ve decided that, on February 1st, I am going to erase everything on the DVR, regardless of whether I’ve watched it or not.  So, that means that I’ve now have only have a month to clean out the DVR!  Will I make it?  Keep checking this site to find out!  I recorded Deadly Exchange off of the Lifetime Movie Network on December 6th, 2017!)

 

Thinking about opening up your home to a foreign exchange student?

Personally, I think that’s a great idea.  During my junior year of high school, I took an English class with a South African exchange student named Sean.  He was a swimmer with a charming accent and a killer smile and needless to say, nearly everyone in the school was in love with him.  He once approached my at a party, looked down at the diamond heart pendant that fell right above my cleavage, and said, “I like those,” before winking and moving on.  With his accent, he could get away with it.  He left after a semester, leaving many a broken heart behind.

So, I say open up your home to those foreign exchange students.  However, Deadly Exchange says, “Not so fast!”

Deadly Exchange is an example of a “Be Careful Who You Let Into Your House” Lifetime film.  Samantha (Lindsay Hartley) thinks it’ll be good idea to serve as host to a foreign exchange student.  Both her husband and her oldest daughter have died and her other daughter, Blake (Victoria Konefal), is still struggling to deal with the loss.  When Chloe (Valentina Novakovic) arrives from the UK, she almost seems too go to be true.  She’s nice, polite, and, like me, she has red hair.  Chloe is soon encouraging Blake to break out of her shell and hang out with more people than just her geeky friend, Jack (Rhys Matthew Bond).  With the help of Chloe, Blake even becomes a cheerleader!

However, there are a few drawbacks to having Chloe in the house.  For instance, Chloe has a habit of stealing people’s phones, drugging their drinks, flirting with their boyfriends, and drowning their other friends.  Whenever Samantha starts to get too concerned about Chloe and her influence on her daughter, an email shows up from Chloe’s parents, suggesting that Samantha throw Chloe a birthday party or do something else that would generally cheer Chloe up.  Of course, what Samantha doesn’t realize is that those emails are being sent by Chloe herself…

I really liked Deadly Exchange, largely because it was a good, old-fashioned Lifetime melodrama, one that didn’t take itself too seriously and wasn’t worried about going totally over the top.  Chloe may have been a little bit disturbed and she did kill a few people but she did it with so much style that it was fun to watch.  When Chloe wasn’t busy with murder and email, she was subtly but cleverly driving a wedge between Samantha, Blake, and everyone they knew.  Any experienced Lifetime viewer knew exactly what Chloe was doing and what would probably happen as a result but, largely thanks to Valentina Novakovic’s cheerfully evil performance, it was still a lot of fun to watch.  Of course, with a film like this, the villain is always the most interesting character but, as her unwitting victims, Linday Hartley, Victoria Konefal, Jason-Shane Scott, and Rhys Matthew Bond were all sympathetic and made a good impression as well.

(That said, I was definitely Team Chloe for most of the film.)

Deadly Exchange premiered during the days leading up to New Year’s Eve so I imagine a lot of people missed it when it originally aired.  But, since Lifetime repeats all of their movies about a hundred times a month, it’ll probably air again soon.  Keep an eye out for it!

 

Cleaning Out The DVR, Again #17: Dying To Be Loved (dir by Paul Shapiro)


(Lisa is currently in the process of trying to clean out her DVR by watching and reviewing all 40 of the movies that she recorded from the start of March to the end of June.  She’s trying to get it all done by July 10th!  Will she make it!?  Keep visiting the site to find out!)

DTBL

After I finished up with The Cheerleader Murders, I rewatched Dying To Be Loved, which premiered on the Lifetime network on April 16th.  Dying To Be Loved is also known as A Mother’s Suspicion.  I’m really not sure which title I prefer.  A Mother’s Suspicion is a little more accurate, as the film is about a mother who is very suspicious of her daughter’s new boyfriend.  However, Dying To Be Loved has a little bit more of a snap to it, with the juxtaposition of death and love.

If I seem to be spending a bit too much time on the film’s title, that’s because I have a certain word count that I’m trying to meet but there’s really not that much to say about Dying To Be Loved.  It’s a typical example of a genre familiar to all regular Lifetime viewers, the You Should Have Listened To Mom genre of film.

In this case, the mom is Jill Yates (Lindsay Hartley).  Jill has a good career, a good house, a good boyfriend (played by Lifetime regular Dan Payne), and good hair.  That’s really pretty much all you need to be a success in a Lifetime film.  However, she also has an 18 year-old daughter, Emily (Paloma Kwiatkowski).  Emily is away at college.  She’s alone from home for the first time.  She’s also bipolar and Jill fears that Emily is not taking her meds.  Jill is even more worried when she meets Emily’s new boyfriend, Gary (Jedidiah Goodacre).  Gary is rough and tough and has absolutely terrible table manners.  Jill tells Emily that she can do better than Gary so, of course, Emily runs off on a cross-country trip with him.

Soon, Gary is murdering gas station attendants and ranting like a madman.  Emily, who is not taking her medication (cue dramatic music), is convinced that she loves Gary.  In fact, she is so in love with Gary that she apparently agrees to jump off a bridge with him.

Or does she?  No bodies are recovered.  Even though everyone tells Jill that she needs to move on, Jill is convinced that her daughter is still out there.  With the help of a portly P.I. (Jay Bazeau) and an overly friendly small town cop (James Pizzinato), Jill sets out to find her daughter.  One of these two men is connected to Gary.  Which one?  You’ll have to watch the movie to find out!

Anyway, this is pretty much a standard Lifetime film.  Watching it, I couldn’t help but wish that it had been directed by someone like Fred Olen Ray.  At the very least, Fred would have played up the film’s melodrama and would have been a bit less earnest in his approach.  That said, Lindsay Hartley and Paloma Kwiatkowski are totally believable as mother and daughter.  Kwiatkowski, in particular, deserves a lot of credit for giving a believable and multi-faceted performance as the unstable and desperately unhappy Emily.  I winced a few times as I recognized bits of 16 year-old me in Emily’s actions.  This may be a generic Lifetime film but Hartley and Kwiatkowski really put their hearts into their performances and, for that, they deserve a lot of credit!

(For those keeping count, that’s 17 reviews down and 23 more to go!)

Film Review: Nightmare Nurse (dir by Craig Moss)


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Earlier tonight, I watched Nightmare Nurse, the latest thriller to make its premiere on Lifetime.

Let’s just start with an obvious point.  Nightmare Nurse is a great title.  It’s a title that screams melodrama and danger.  It’s a title that says, “You must watch, you must watch!”  If there was a TV series called Nightmare Nurse, I would watch and review every episode.  If a character named Nightmare Nurse ever shows up in a Marvel comic book movie, I guarantee that she will become the most popular character since that talking raccoon.  Nightmare Nurse is a title that epitomizes everything that we love about Lifetime movies.

The other point I would like to make is that, according to the imdb, Nightmare Nurse was filmed in Los Angeles.  I was actually shocked to discover this because everything about it screamed, “Canada!”  As I watched the movie, I just naturally assumed that it was filmed in either Montreal or Toronto, like so many other Lifetime films.  But no, Nightmare Nurse was actually filmed in the U.S.

As for what the film is about … well, this is an odd one.  It starts out like a normal Lifetime film and, for the first 75 minutes or so, it plays out like a normal Lifetime film.  And then suddenly, things get really weird and, for the final 15 minutes, it’s like you’re watching an entirely different movie.  This is one of those Lifetime films that has a big out-of-nowhere twist that really doesn’t make much sense.  After you find out about the twist, you find yourself obsessing on how little sense it makes.  In order for the plot of Nightmare Nurse to work, you have to believe that someone would come up with the most needlessly complicated plan necessary to accomplish a relatively simply goal.

But look, I’m not going to spoil things.  If you want to talk about the ending, do so in the comments.  But for this review, I will stay try to stay true to the no spoiler rule.

Nightmare Nurse tells the story of Brooke (Sarah Butler) and her boyfriend, Lance (Steve Good).  One night, Lance is driving Brooke home from her job as a sous chef when, suddenly, a man wanders out into the middle of the street.  Lance loses control of the car.  The man is killed and Lance ends up with a broken leg.  At the hospital, both Brooke and Lance are taken care of by Nurse Barb (Traci Lords).  But, since Barb can’t go home with them, they have to hire a home nurse once they’re discharged from the hospital.

Brooke ends up hiring Chloe (Lindsay Hartley) and, as soon as Chloe showed up at the house, I was just like, “No!  Stop!  No way would I ever hire someone who looks like Chloe to take care of my boyfriend!”  Seriously, if I’m hiring a nurse to spend all day with my boyfriend while I’m at work, you better believe that I am going to hire the ugliest nurse that I possibly can.

And you know what else I would probably do?  I would probably run a background check or at least ask for references.  Brooke doesn’t do any of this so should she really be all that surprised when Chloe turns out to be totally batshit crazy?  Soon, Chloe is flirting with Lance and subtly suggesting that he and Brooke really aren’t that compatible.  Meanwhile, Brooke is stuck working for a British chef.  (Julian Stone does an okay job in the role but I would have loved to have seen a Gordon Ramsay cameo here.)  Seriously, people — do a background check.

So, Chloe’s crazy, right?  Well, yes but that’s not all!  There’s a whole other layer of conspiracy going on.  It’s all revealed during the final 15 minutes of the movie and it pretty much comes out of nowhere.  This is one of those films where the mystery is solved largely through coincidence and luck as opposed to any use of intelligence on the part of anyone in the film.

I never though I’d say this about a Lifetime film but Nightmare Nurse is almost too implausible for its own good.  On the positive side, Lindsay Hartley is properly unhinged as Chloe and Steve Good is likable as couch-bound Lance.  Nightmare Nurse may not be the best Lifetime film that I’ve ever seen but I would definitely watch Nightmare Nurse II because a good title is a good title.