Lisa Marie’s Picks For The 16 Worst Films of 2022

Well, it’s nearly February so I guess it’s time for me to start listing my picks for the best and the worst of 2022.

It’s pretty much a tradition here at the Shattered Lens that I always end up running behind as far as posting these lists are concerned.  I always think that I’m going to have everything ready to go during the first week of January but then I realize that there’s still a host of movies that I need to see before I can, in good conscience, post any sort of list.  Fortunately, I think I’ve finally reached where I can start posting lists.  Add to that, as I said at the start of this post, it’s nearly February!

Below, you’ll find my picks for the 16 worst films of 2022.  Why 16 films?  Because Lisa doesn’t do odd numbers!

In the end, of course, this list is my opinion.  You’re free to agree or disagree.  That’s the wonderful thing about having an opinion.

(Also be sure to check out my picks for 2021, 2020, 201920182017201620152014201320122011, and 2010!)

16. Glass Onion (dir by Rian Johnson) — I realize that, by even including Glass Onion on this list, I’m going out on a limb here.  A lot of people who I respect really enjoyed this film.  Several of my friends have it on their best of the year lists.  And that’s fine!  The film just didn’t work for me and it often seemed a bit too amused with itself.  That said, what really pushed me over the edge was what happened to the Mona Lisa.  If that hadn’t happened, this film would probably be ranked in the middle of the 129 films that are eligible for this year’s worst and best lists.

15. The Fallout (dir by Megan Park) — The Fallout dealt with an important subject and it had some good performances but it was just a bit too overwritten and predictable for me.  Plus, the film opened with someone making a really messy peanut butter sandwich and that totally grossed me out.  Jenna Ortega is still destined to be a star, though.

14. Studio 666 (dir by BJ McDonnell) — I wasn’t particularly harsh in my initial review of Studio 666 but, the more I think about it, the more dissatisfied I am with the film.  This is one of those films where the people making it definitely had more fun than the people who watched it.  I still respect the Foo Fighters for doing something for their fans and Dave Grohl seems to be about as likable and goofy as a rock star can be.  But the film itself ultimately feels a bit lazy,

13. A Day To Die (dir by Wes Miller) — This bland action film got some attention because it was one of the many films featuring Bruce Willis to be released this year.  Unfortunately, this one was just boring.  Willis and co-star Kevin Dillion were both seen to better effect in Wire Room.

12. The Princess (dir by Le-Van Kiet) — This cheap-looking film had a lot of action but not much characterization.  The film was so busy patting itself on the back for celebrating girl power that it didn’t seem to have noticed that the girl at the center of the film was seriously underwritten.

11. The Bubble (dir by Judd Apatow) — This oddly mean-spirited satire was Judd Apatow at his most self-indulgent and undisciplined.  The film’s smug attitude made it a real chore to sit through.

10. Fortress: Sniper’s Eye (dir by Josh Sternfeld) — This rather pointless action film was among the many films in which Bruce Willis appeared this year.  Willis spends most of the film offscreen while Jesse Metcalfe and Chad Michael Murray play two enemies who are trying to kill each other because of …. reasons, I guess.  Instead of watching this film, check out Willis in White Elephant, an entertaining film in which he plays a crime boss who goes to war with Michael Rooker.

9. Hellraiser (dir by David Buckner) — Blandly directed and poorly acted, this was a pointless reboot of the Hellraiser series, with Jamie Clayton proving to be a forgettable replacement for Doug Bradley.

8. American Siege (dir by Edward Drake) — This was undoubtedly the worst of Bruce Willis’s 2022 films, with a silly plot and Willis cast as an alcoholic police chief who has to decide whether or not to stand up to the richest man in town.  That said, Edward Drake also directed in Bruce Willis in Gasoline Alley, an excellent modern-day noir that featured a great lead performance from Devon Sawa and which gave Willis a decent role.  Instead of seeing American Siege, track down Gasoline Alley.

7. Windfall (dir by Charlie McDowell) — Jason Segel, Jesse Plemons, Lily Collins, and Charlie McDowell are all undoubtedly talented but this hostage melodrama goes nowhere unexpected.  Like a lot of hostage dramas, it becomes a bit of a drag as all of the expected mental games are played.  The attempt at social commentary falls flat.

6. Morbius (dir by Daniel Espinosa) — I started this film in October and didn’t bother to finish it until January.  Jared Leto seems to be taking the whole thing just a bit too seriously.  I still think it’s funny that a bunch of twitter trolls tricked Sony into re-releasing this thing so that it could flop twice.

5. Amsterdam (dir by David O. Russell) — Overlong and self-indulgent, Amsterdam features all of David O. Russell’s storytelling flaws without many of his strength.  To be honest, this film lost me as soon as the cutesy “This is based on an almost true story” flashed across the screen.  Amsterdam thinks that it’s considerably more clever than it is.  Taylor Swift, for all of her other talents, is not a particularly interesting actress.  Christian Bale gave the type of terrible performance that can only be delivered by someone with a lot of talent but not much of an attention span.  John David Washington was as bland as ever.  The anti-FDR Businessman’s Plot is not as obscure or unknown as this film seems to think that it is.

4. Blonde (dir by Andrew Dominik) — Andrew Dominik gives us yet another incredibly pretentious film that doesn’t seem to have much of a point beyond rubbing the audience’s face in how depressing life can be.  For all the effort that this film takes to recreate the life of Marilyn Monroe, the film doesn’t really seem to have much respect for her or even really like her that much.  Indeed, the film takes an almost perverse joy in detailing every tragedy that she suffered but it never displays much empathy for her suffering.  Never does the film see fit to really acknowledge her as a talented actress who was reportedly far more intelligent and well-read than most people realized.  People should be far more upset over Ana de Armas’s Oscar nomination than Andrea Riseborough’s.

3. The Sky is Everywhere (dir by Josephine Decker) — Ugh.  This film was unbearably twee.

2. Halloween Ends (dir by David Gordon Green) — In the past, I’ve liked quite a few of David Gordon Green’s films.  But I have to admit that I’ve disliked his Halloween films so much that it’s actually made me start to dislike his past movies as well.  There’s just something incredibly smug about Green’s approach to the films, as if he wants to make sure that we all understand that he’s better than the average horror director.  The thought of Green redoing The Exorcist…. bleh!  Anyway, Halloween Ends is a Halloween film that barely features Michael Myers.  The ending, with the somber march to the auto yard, was the most unintentionally funny thing that I’ve seen this year.  Can someone please tell David Gordon Green to get back to making films like Joe?

1. After Ever Happy (dir by Castille Landon) — The saga of the world’s most boring lovers continues.  Will these films never end!?

Film Review: The Fallout (dir by Megan Park)

The Fallout, which premiered on HBOMax way back in January, opens with a scene of a sandwich being made.  It’s a peanut butter sandwich but the person making it is putting way too much peanut butter on the bread.  The kitchen counter is a mess.  The knife looks dirty.  To be honest, it’s kind of sickening to watch.

No, the film is not about the sandwich.  In fact, the sandwich never appears again.  But I have to admit that sandwich represents the entire film to me.  That scene, I think, is meant to tell us that we’re watching a film about real people and sometimes, real people prepare disgusting food in a cluttered kitchen.  And that’s true.  Then again, sometimes they don’t and that’s something that some filmmakers don’t want to acknowledge.  Indeed, there’s something rather condescending about the cinematic belief that being authentic is the equivalent of being a slob.  It’s an interesting phenomena how a film can try so hard to be “real” that it instead becomes the opposite.

The Fallout certainly deals with an important subject.  Vada Cavell (Jenna Ortega) goes to high school on a day like any other day and, without warning, finds herself in the middle of a school shooting.  The shooting itself is handled well.  We don’t see the shooter nor do we learn anything about him.  We just hear the gunshots while Vada, Mia Reed (Maddie Ziegler — yes, of Dance Moms fame), and Quinton (Niles Fitch) hide in a bathroom stall.  It’s a terrifying scene and it immediately reminded me of what it was like when I was in high school and I would see stories about school shootings and wonder if my school was going to be next.

The rest of the film deals with the emotional, political, and mental fallout of the shooting.  Quinton struggles with the death of his brother.  Vada’s best friend, Nick (Will Ropp), becomes a self-righteous David Hogg type.  And Vada starts spending all of her time with Mia, a dancer and influencer whose Dads are in Europe and apparently can’t even be bothered to come back to the States even after their daughter is involved in a school shooting.  Vada, who has a total crush on Mia, starts hanging out at Mia’s mansion.  Mia is happy to finally have a friend that she can talk to, even if Vada is kind of annoying.

(The whole thing with the Dads being in Europe and Mia living alone in her mansion feels a bit too convenient, to be honest.)

The film is dealing with important issues, which is one reason why it’s gotten so many good reviews.  This is one of those films that many people feel obligated to like because otherwise, they might run the risk of being told that they don’t care about school shootings.  But, honestly, the film doesn’t really have that much to say.  It hits all of the expected beats and, as much as the film tries to make everything messy and real, it often seems like it’s trying too hard.  Of course, Vada is going to use drugs to get through her first day back at school.  Of course, Vada’s father is going to encourage her to shout out her frustrations at the top of her lungs.  Of course, Vada’s mother is going to be remote and controlling.  Of course, her little sister is going to have a breakdown.  Of course, her best friend is going to get mad at her for not wanting to get involved with his nascent political career.  Of course, there’s going to be an absolutely cringey moment where Vada starts talking a mile a minute just because she smoked one joint.  To be honest, I’ve never seen anyone react to weed quite the way that Vada does.  She’s like the person who gets drunk off half a beer and then won’t stop talking.  It’s freaking annoying.  Throughout the film, there are occasional moments that work but, ultimately, it’s never quite as insightful as it obviously believes itself to be.

Jenna Ortega does give a good performance as Vada.  As written, the character is often annoying but, then again, the same can be said of most people and one can only imagine what Vada would have been like without Ortega’s likable screen presence.  The film is pretty much stolen, though, by Maddie Ziegler.  Ziegler reveals the lonely reality behind the influencer façade.  Since Ziegler is herself a dancer and an influencer, she brings a lot of her own persona to Mia but, at the same time, she also makes Mia into a believable character who has a life and an existence that’s separate from the actress playing her.  After The Book of Henry and Music, The Fallout actually gives Ziegler a chance to prove that she can act as well as she can dance.

As opposed to Gus Van Sant’s Elephant or Fran Kranz’s Mass, which both that the courage to acknowledge that violence and its consequences can never be truly understood or easily defined, The Fallout tries too hard to find definitive meaning in an incomprehensible tragedy.  For all of its good intentions and its attempts to be realistic, there’s a shallowness at the heart of The Fallout that keeps it from working.

The TSL’s Horror Grindhouse: Diary of the Dead (dir by George Romero)

I have to admit that I was a little bit hesitant about watching the 2007 film, Diary of the Dead.

It wasn’t that I don’t like zombie movies.  In fact, it was the complete opposite.  I love zombie films and Night of the Living Dead is one of my favorites.  George Romero, of course, went on to make several sequels to Night of the Living DeadDawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, and Land of the Dead are certifiable horror classics.  However, I had heard mixed things about the two zombie films that Romero directed after Land of the Dead.  Seeing as how Diary of the Dead was Romero’s second-to-last film before he passed away in 2017, I was worried that I would watch the film and discover that I hated it.  I didn’t want experience anything that would tarnish Romero’s cinematic legacy.  It didn’t help my expectations that Diary of the Dead is a found footage film and the conventions of the found footage genre tend to get on my last nerve.

(Seriously, nothing makes me throw a shoe at a screen quicker than the sound of someone in a horror movie saying, “Are you filming this?”)

But you know what?

I did watch Diary of the Dead and it’s actually not bad.  It may not reach the heights of Romero’s other zombie films but it’s definitely a worthwhile companion piece.  It opens with news reports about the start of the zombie apocalypse, meaning that Diary of the Dead is meant to take place at roughly the same time as Night of the Living Dead.  (Never mind that Diary of the Dead is full of references to YouTube and blogs and other things that most people probably couldn’t even imagine when Night of the Living Dead first came out.)  A group of film students are in the woods, filming a terrible mummy movie when they first hear reports of the dead coming back to life.  Some say that there’s no way it could be true.  Others say that something must be happening but surely the dead aren’t actually coming back to life.  They soon discover that the dead have indeed returned.

We follow the students as they travel across Pennsylvania, trying to find a place that’s safe from the Dead and discovering that there’s literally no such place left in America.  Along the way, they also discover that the government has no intention of telling the people the truth about what’s happening.  In fact, a group of national guardsmen turn out to be just as dangerous as the zombies.  In their efforts to survive, the students are forced to rely on an underground network of bloggers and video makers.

Diary of the Dead has all of the usual zombie mayhem that you would expect from a film like this but, at the same time, it’s got a lot more on its mind than just the dead returning to life.  Much as he did with Land Of The Dead, Romero uses Diary of the Dead to comment on the state of America under the Patriot Act.  With the government using the zombie apocalypse as an excuse to suspend civil liberties and increase their own power, the film’s characters are forced to depend on new and independent information sources.  It’s not hard to see the parallel that Romero is making between the War on the Living Dead and the War on Terror.  As well, making all of the characters film students allows for some discussion about whether or not horror films should simply concentrate on being scary or whether they should also attempt to deal with real-world issues.  The film leaves little doubt where Romero came down on that issue.

On the negative side, Diary of the Dead struggles a bit to overcome the limitations of its low budget and none of the characters are as compelling as Ben in Night of the Living Dead or Fran in Dawn of the Dead.  At times, you find yourself wishing that Diary of the Dead featured just one actor who was as into their role as Duane C. Jones or Ken Foree were in Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead, respectively.  But Diary of the Dead still features enough zombies and enough of Romero’s trademark political subtext to be an acceptable addition to Romero’s vision of the apocalypse.

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!

Back to School Part II #41: She’s Too Young (dir by Tom McLoughlin)


“Guess what, guys!  I’ve got syphilis!”

— Actual Line Of Dialogue From She’s Too Young (2004)

Yes, indeed, 14 year-old Dawn (Miriam McDonald) has syphilis.  But she’s not the only one!  It turns out that there’s a syphilis epidemic raging at Dawn’s Canadian high school.  It all comes down to a 16 year-old aspiring man-whore named Nick (Mike Erwin) and Nick really isn’t that concerned about it.  When the school’s counselor informs him that he’s patient zero in the syphilis epidemic, Nick holds out his arm and says, “Give me my magic bullet and I’ll be on my way.”  Nick also jokingly refers to syphilis as being “the big S.”

Meanwhile, Nick’s girlfriend, Hannah (Alexis Dziena), is shocked to discover that she has a mouth sore, despite having never had intercourse with Nick.  Uh-oh … it turns out that syphilis is a lot easier to contract than she originally believed!  Luckily, her incredibly overprotective mom (Marcia Gay Harden) is doing her best to make sure that nobody in Canada ever gets syphilis again.  If that means going from house to house and announcing, “My daughter has syphilis!,” that’s what she’s going to do!

One of Hannah’s best friends is Dawn.  Her other best friend is Becca (Megan Park), who regularly sneaks off to a motel with her boyfriend.  Seriously, every teenager in town is having sex, except for Hannah.  That said, Hannah does try to convince her photographer friend, Tommy (Joe Dinicol), that it’s time that they both lose their respective virginities.  Tommy, however, refuses and says, “We have ages to do that…”

(Really? A teenage boy turning down sex?  Maybe he’s just worried about getting syphilis…)

Anyway, after Dawn reveals that she has syphilis, every student at the high school is forced to get a blood test.  Becca gets pretty mad about being inconvenienced and decides that she doesn’t want to hang out with either Dawn or Hannah anymore.  (Even worse, her ultra religious parents threaten to send her to private school!)  While Dawn can at least hang out with her mother and her younger sister, Hannah now has no one to be friends with.  After all, Nick’s has apparently succumbed to an internet pornography addiction, Tommy rejected her, and her mother is too busy telling everyone in the neighborhood that Hannah has syphilis.  So, Hannah spends all of her time hanging out on a website and chatting with Dawn (whose user name is Dawn69 and I’m sure that’s just meant to be a coincidence).

The site, by the way, is called  I don’t know if is a real site and I’m not planning on finding out.  Any site called is probably going to be crawling with all sorts of viruses, not to mention syphilis…

(“Lisa,” you’re saying, “you can’t catch syphilis from a website…”  Whatever.  That’s the same thing they told Napoleon before they sent him to Elba and we all know how that worked out.)

I have spent a lot of time on this site defending Lifetime films but occasionally, I do see a movie that pretty much lives up to every single pre-conceived notion that people have about Lifetime films in general.  She’s Too Young is one such film.  It’s so overwrought and earnest and it has so little understanding of the way that teenage girls actually talk that She’s Too Young actually is a classic of a certain kind.  It’s like the Reefer Madness of Canadian STD films.

Speaking as a Degrassi fan, one of the things that made She’s Too Young especially memorable was that Dawn was played by Miriam McDonald.  On Degrassi, McDonald played Emma Nelson and, in a two-part episode that was considered to be too controversial to air in the United States, she contracted gonorrhea.  It’s interesting to compare the rather level-headed and always honest approach of Degrassi to the far more histrionic style of She’s Too Young.

(On Degrassi, when Emma finally told her stepfather that she was sick, he assured her that she would be okay and that the most important thing was that she learn from this experience.  In She’s Too Young, when Hannah confesses that she’s sick, her mother responds by running around the neighborhood and telling everyone that her daughter has syphilis.)

For all the talk about how the original Mother, May I Sleep With Danger is the ultimate over-the-top and unintentionally funny made-for-TV film, I would argue that She’s Too Young is actually far more memorable.  From the overwrought dialogue to the overwrought performances to the painful sincerity of the film’s intentions, She’s Too Young is a classic that deserves a James Franco-produced remake.

Playing Catch-Up: Room (dir by Lenny Abrahamson)


Have you seen Room yet?

I ask because I’m debating how much information I should share in this review.  Room came out a few months ago and I’ve been late in reviewing it because watching the film was such an emotionally overwhelmingly experience that I wasn’t sure where to begin.  Now, all of this time has passed and I’m in a hurry to review this film because it’s obviously going to be nominated for some Oscars on Thursday morning and I’m wondering how much I can reveal without spoiling the movie.

It’s always tempting to say “Spoilers be damned!” but I’m not going to do that this time.  Room is a great film and it’s one that deserves to be discovered with a fresh mind.  I imagine that many people who missed the film the first time will see it once Brie Larson has been nominated for Best Actress.  Out of respect for those people, I am going to hold off from going into too much detail about the film’s plot.

Of course, this means that, if you haven’t seen the film, you’re going to have to have a little bit of faith in me.  You’re going to have to trust me.  When I tell you that this is an amazing film that will take you by surprise, you’re just going to believe me.  Because if I ruin those surprises … well, then they won’t be surprises anymore, will they?

When I first heard all the Oscar talk swirling around Room, my initial instinct was to make a joke about Tommy Wiseau finally getting the credit he deserves.  But then I saw Room and, within a few minutes of the film, I was in tears.  It’s hard for me to think of any other film this year that made me cry as much as Room.

Room is narrated by Jack (Jacob Tremblay), a 5 year-old boy whose hair is so long that he is frequently mistaken for being a girl.  Jack lives in a filthy room with Ma (Brie Larson).  The tiny room has only a toilet, a sink, a bed, a small kitchen area, and a cheap television.  There’s also the small closet where Jack sleeps and a skylight in the ceiling.  As quickly becomes apparent from his narration, Jack has never been outside of the room.  All he knows about the outside world comes from TV and the stories told to him by Ma.

Occasionally, a nervous man named Old Nick (Sean Bridgers) enters the room.  Whenever Old Nick shows up, Ma orders Jack to hide in the closet.  However, even in the closet, Jack listens to Ma and Nick talking in the room.  Ma talks about how Nick kidnapped her when she was 17.  Nick talks about how he has recently lost his job and may not be able to continue to take care of his two prisoners.  Fearful for her life, Ma humors the self-pitying Nick.  Nick, meanwhile, plays the victim and complains about how difficult it is to keep her and Jack prisoner.  It quickly becomes apparent that Jack is Nick’s child.

Now that Jack is five, Ma knows that he’s old enough that she can tell him about her plan to escape from Nick.  However, escaping means exposing Jack to a world that he’s never experienced and that Ma fears she no longer remembers.

Meanwhile, Ma’s parents wonder what has happened to their missing daughter.  (It’s from her parents that we learn that, much like a character played by fellow Oscar contender Jennifer Lawrence, Ma’s name is Joy.)  Ma’s mother, Nancy (Joan Allen), is now divorced from Joy’s emotionally repressed father (William H. Macy).  Nancy is now married to the kind and appealingly disheveled Leo (Tom McCamus).  However, still hoping that her daughter will someday return, Nancy hasn’t even touched Joy’s old bedroom.

Finally, the opportunity comes for Ma and Jack to escape and…

…and that’s all I can tell you without spoiling the film.  Room is an emotionally exhausting film, one that will make you cry but which will also leave feeling strangely hopeful for the future.  Brie Larson gives a courageously vulnerable and emotionally raw performance as Joy while Jacob Tremblay is perfectly cast as Jack.  Since Larson and Tremblay are both getting a lot of attention as possible Oscar nominees, I want to take a few minute to single out one member of the cast who, so far, has been overshadowed.  Tom McCamus doesn’t have a lot of screen time but he makes the most of every second he gets, turning Leo into the ideal father figure.

Room made me cry and cry and I can’t wait to see it again.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #138: UnGodly Acts (directed by Carl Bessai)

Last night, I watched the latest Lifetime original film, UnGodly Acts.

UnGodly Acts

Why Was I Watching It?

Because it was on Lifetime, of course!

What Was It About?

Outside of a farmhouse in Georgia, Melissa (Megan Park) has been discovered dead.  At first, it looks like she committed suicide but then a bearded guy named Adam (Iain Belcher) announces that he killed her.  It turns out that not only is Adam a schizophrenic who hears voices but he’s also the member of a fundamentalist religious cult.  The head of the cult is the clean-cut Daniel (Brant Daugherty).  Daniel has teeth that are so white that he can probably hypnotize people just by smiling at them.  Another interesting fact about Daniel?  He was married to Melissa, which didn’t prevent him from having sex with the other men in the cult.

Through flashbacks, we discover how Daniel first recruited his cult.  We see how Melissa arranged for Daniel to perform an exorcism on Adam and “cure” him of the voices in his head.  We watch as Daniel becomes more and more domineering and Melissa finds herself becoming disillusioned with him.

What Worked?

UnGodly Acts was a gorgeous film to look at.  British Columbia stood in for Georgia and it looked absolutely beautiful!  Cult life is definitely not for me but I was impressed with how neat and impeccably decorated the inside of that farmhouse was.  I give the cult mad respect for its housekeeping skills.

Brant Daugherty was appropriately charismatic as Daniel, though the film was ultimately stolen by the wonderfully jumpy Iain Belcher.  That said, my favorite character was Matt, who was played by Aidan Khan and who has a truly legendary mustache.

What Did Not Work?

The film was a bit overdirected.  I’m as big a fan of dutch angles as anyone but, after a while, it got all too predictable and I was just like, “Oh, someone’s being interrogated.  Time for the camera to start tilting again.”

It was a strange viewing experience, to be honest.  It was a good film but it was never truly memorable.  It was just missing something.  Add to that, the film ended without definitely solving its main mystery and, needless to say, that was more than frustrating.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

For once, there were none.  I was surprised.  Maybe I would have related to the film more if I was a protestant.  Who knows?

Lessons Learned

Just because you’re in a cult, doesn’t mean you can’t keep a clean house.

Val’s Movie Roundup #25: Hallmark Edition


A Wish Come True (2015) – If Pete’s Christmas (2013) is Hallmark’s Groundhog Day (1993), then A Wish Come True is kind of their Big (1988). The movie is about a girl named Lindsay Corwin (Megan Park). For a a good chunk of the beginning of this film she looks like a teenager. The opening scene may even be of her as a teenager. I’m not sure because the next thing I knew, she was about to turn 30, but looked the same. And this picture later of her supposedly at 18 sure didn’t help.


Each birthday she makes a wish, and each time it doesn’t come true. Until her thirtieth birthday, when they all come true at once. Just like Big, this catapults her far beyond where she is supposed to be at her age. Promotion, big house, etc. She even receives a toy house that I’m pretty sure Celine and Julie were once trapped in (pretentious cinema snob joke).


As is almost always the case, there is a romantic interest. The movie is one of the average ones of this sort. You really can’t spoil it because of the nature of a Hallmark movie, but I will say it doesn’t quite end like Big. Same sort of result, but a little different. This one is worth seeing. Just remember she’s actually supposed to be 30 even during the scenes where she has glasses and her hair up. Trust me!


Love By The Book (2014) – You see that picture of the girl (Leah Renee) in the poster. She doesn’t look like that in the movie. That poster makes her look like she could be believable as a smart, kind, business woman with a passion for books. This is closer to the way she looks in the movie.

Even that isn’t completely accurate. I apologize for the lack of a proper screenshot, but you’ll have to take my word for it. She’s the girl you cast for the stuck up high school cheerleading bitch. This is a David S. Cass Sr. movie and just like Class (2010), Keeping Up The Randalls (2011), and Uncorked (2009), one or two of the leads has been cast against type. In this case it’s the girl. The guy is fine in the role. Nothing amazing, but he fits. She does not. She looks like she belongs in Mean Girls (2004) with her squeaky voice and I don’t buy her being able to add, let alone run a business. Whoever keeps doing the casting for David S. Cass Sr. Hallmark movies should be fired. It isn’t fair to the actors and it ruins the movie. They aren’t good enough to play against type, so cast them appropriately so they can do their thing.

The movie itself is about a girl who owns a bookstore and has a business consultant thrust upon her by a big investor in her business. He tries to help her, she resists, she has a boyfriend who obviously doesn’t belong with her, and you know where it ends up.

It would be average, but Leah Renee is totally miscast and it nearly completely ruins the film. It’s not a total crash and burn though.

Oh, and kudos to the Art Department for bothering to setup an XAMPP LAMP stack to run their fake webpages on.


Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Truth Be Told (2015) – We are going really far back to my very first Hallmark movie roundup. I even received what I think is my one and only thumbs down so far. I assume because of my rather harsh review of Signed, Sealed, Delivered: From Paris With Love (2015). I try to tell you what I thought having watched it. And having watched the most recent entry in the series, I stand behind it. This is one series on Hallmark where they really need to air at least from the Christmas episode up to whatever they are currently showing before the new entry airs. This isn’t one where you can just jump in anywhere like the Aurora Teagarden or Garage Sale Mystery movie series. Hallmark really seems to be carefully trying to craft something special that is notches above their usual material. It’s not fair to you and the series to just jump in at any point. At least not without then going back and watching the earlier ones. I still have to see the pilot/first movie myself.

So, the movie itself. We once again join the Postables as they call themselves at the dead letter office of the United States Postal Service. There is a letter that has been in a fire, but clever Norman (Geoff Gustafson) knows a way to bring the ink back to life from his time in the system as a kid. I really liked this short little procedural part. It honestly made me think of Dan Aykroyd’s character in Sneakers (1992) when he tells Robert Redford how to defeat a keypad lock form an old friend who was in Desert Storm. On the other side of the conflict. They give Redford what sounds like complex instructions, but it turns out it’s just kick the door in. I would love them to have Norman do more tricks like this in the future that he has picked up from his many childhood friends. I also want more procedural elements in general. I think I would enjoy the show more from seeing them work together rather than a personal backstory revealed through an encounter with something from one of their pasts.

This one does that though. This time poor Oliver (Eric Mabius) gets a visit from his father who he has no desire to see. Let me take a moment to say, can we please both give Oliver a break, and give him a marijuana brownie or something to let him loosen up for a bit. The poor guy is wound tighter than a drum. Also, I half expect him to open up a letter and find it has anthrax in it or something else horrible happen to him in the next film. In this one, his father has a bomb to drop on him (not literally).

While Oliver confronts his past, the letter leads Norman and Rita (Crystal Lowe) into the life of a young girl who’s Mom mysteriously disappeared in Afghanistan. It turns out the letter was written by someone else, not the mother. She hires them to find out who wrote it. At present, the mother is presumed to have worked with the enemy. The “Truth Be Told” of the tile is something that Oliver didn’t know about his father and the young girl finding out the truth about her mother. Although, I think we are going to find out even more about her in the next entry in the series.

The only other thing I can think to mention is that Rita has a romance novel she is writing. Apparently, there’s a scene in it where a woman is accidentally branded. I have no reason to believe otherwise, but I think she means branded like Cecil B. DeMille’s The Cheat (1915) branded. I want to hear more from this novel. She certainly seems to have more of a sexual imagination than the guy who directed Bikini Spring Break (2012) and Jailbait (2014).

I think you can come in to this without having seen the prior ones, but really, if you can, record it and hold on till you see the previous ones. I think you will be doing yourself a real favor.


A Ring By Spring (2014) – This is paint by numbers Hallmark. You can tell from the title. Hell, that picture would probably have you thinking it’s offensive to women. It’s not.

The movie is about a business consultant played by Rachel Boston. She is called in to help a company that buys used college supplies, then resells them. She gets a reading that says she will have a ring by spring or she never will. Honestly, she doesn’t seem to take it very seriously, which is nice. It’s just kind of in the back of her mind. Of course, we know she is going to end up with the nice guy who runs the business rather than anyone else she might meet.

The two things that work are the ending and Boston herself. I won’t spoil the ending, but it’s not a proposal. It’s a nice little, ah, I get it moment for Boston’s character followed by her ending up with the guy. While the stuff leading up to it didn’t work so great for me, the ending did.

The other thing that works is Boston’s facial expressions. I think it’s her big eyes, but she does some great shocked looks.





Seriously, the movie is worth seeing just to watch her face.

Unfortunately, this movie is one of those that screws up computer screens. And again, it’s a stupid mistake that they for some reason beyond me decide to show in a lingering closeup. In this case, Boston is talking to a guy via her iPad, but we can clearly see it’s just video playing that she is talking to. It’s only made worse when in a following scene she is shown a video and we can clearly see it looks the same as her supposed chat.



I really don’t understand why the closeup was necessary. Especially when in the same scene it’s fixed because presumedly the top of the video went away since they weren’t touching it or they touched it to make it go away. Probably they noticed it, touched it to make it go away, but didn’t reshoot the earlier scenes.


I said the ending worked for me, but the real reason is to see Boston do her looks. She does the same sort of thing in A Gift Of Miracles (2015). I forgot to include screenshots that time, but I did describe the expression on her face like she just saw Chuck Norris eat a Cadillac. I haven’t enjoyed an actor almost solely on the basis of their facial expressions since Jim Carrey.

What Lisa Watched Last Night: The Perfect Teacher (dir. by Jim Donavon)

Hi.  This is the 1st edition of something that I like to call What Lisa Watched Last Night.  Because, y’see, I not only love movies and books.  I watch a lot of TV as well.

Last night, after we got home from spending the day at the holiday family reunion at my uncle’s, my sister Erin and I turned on Lifetime and watched an encore presentation of the “original Lifetime movie,” The Perfect Teacher

Why Was I Watching This?

When this movie premiered back in September, I watched it because, based on the commercials, it looked silly and fun.  Plus, it was on Lifetime and, no matter how much I love the Grindhouse, I’m a girly girl at heart.  As for last night, I watched it mostly because I was too worn out from the holidays to do much of anything else.

What’s The Movie About:

Devon (Megan Park) is a spoiled rich girl who develops a crush on her new teacher, Jim Wilkes (David Charvet).  Jim is also the coach of the Girl’s Volleyball Team and Devon volunteers to work as his assistant.  Before leaving on a volleyball road trip, Devon buys sexy lingerie which apparently is meant to let us know that she’s crazy.  (Though really, why wouldn’t you buy sexy lingerie before going on a road trip with David Charvet?  I mean, he’s a terrible actor but look at him!)  Anyway, the team’s staying in a hotel, Devon knocks on Charvet’s door, Charvet answers the door without his shirt on and…uhm, yeah.  Okay, how stupid is David Charvet not to know that when he’s the only adult present with a group of female minors, he needs to answer the door with his shirt on?  Seriously, way to be a tease, Charvet.  Anyway, long story short — Devon declares her love for Charvet, Charvet rejects her because he’s married to boring, old Rachel (Boti Bliss) so Devon gets behind the wheel of an SUV and runs Rachel down while she’s jogging.

Some other stuff happens but basically, all you really need to know is: lingerie-clad Park, shirtless Charvet, and hit-and-run Bliss.

What Worked:

The movie not only looks silly and fun — it is silly and fun!  Ever since I originally saw this, I’ve been taking advantage of any opportunity to quote Devon: “I can be your dream or I can be your …. NIGHTMARE!”  Megan Park actually does a pretty good job playing Devon.  David Charvet can’t act but he’s nice to look at.  As the wife, Boti Bliss has really boring hair and is kinda whiney but then she gets run over by a rampaging SUV.

What Didn’t Work:

Hey, it’s Lifetime.  It all worked.

“Oh my God!  Just like me moment!”

 Who hasn’t had a crush on a teacher?  Me, I pretty much developed a crush on every male teacher/professor that I ever had.  However, when I think about teenage crushes I had on older men, I always end up thinking about Mark.  Mark wasn’t a teacher but he was engaged to marry Ms. Conn, who was our Speech and Debate coach.  I was 17 at the time and he was 23.  Eventually, Mark accompanied us when we went to a speech tournament in San Antonio.  Much as in The Perfect Teacher, the entire team stayed at a motel and, for me, the highlight of the trip was the night when I put on the pink Victoria’s Secret nightie I’d bought specifically for the trip, snuck out of my room, pulled the fire alarm, and met Mark as he came running out of his room clad only in his boxers.

I guess that’s not as extreme as getting behind the wheel of an SUV and running down someone’s wife but still, we’ve all played the role of obsessive stalker chick at least once or twice in our life.

Lessons Learned:

It’s not a Lifetime movie unless there’s some sort of lesson learned or deeper truth revealed by the end of the film.  The lesson of The Perfect Teacher appear to be that even if you do marry a really nice, handsome guy who doesn’t cheat on you or plot your murder, chances are that he’s still going to unintentionally lead on some psycho bitch who will end up running you down in her car while you’re out jogging.  In short, even good men are idiots and anyone younger and/or prettier than you is psychotic and looking to ruin your life. 

Anyway, since this is Lifetime, you can be sure that The Perfect Teacher will be rerun at least three or four times a year until the end of time.  I know a few readers might be saying, “But, Lisa, we wouldn’t be caught dead watching Lifetime.”  And, to you, I say…I can be your dream or I can be your….NIGHTMARE!