Lifetime Film Review: Sleeping With My Student (dir by Tom Shell)


So, here you are.

You’re middle-aged.  You’ve just split up with your adulterous husband.  Your teenage daughter is upset because she’s about to start at a new school.  Even worse, you’ve just been hired to be the new principal at that school.  It’s the summer.  You’re at a conference.  This is your last chance to enjoy yourself before a new school year begins.

You’re at the hotel pool.  Suddenly, a handsome man who is quite a bit younger than you jumps into the pool and, after briefly fooling you into thinking that he’s drowned, he starts up a conversation with you.  He’s charming in a simple way.  He says that you were sexy when you were concerned that he might be dead.  He invites you back to his room and you know exactly why.

Do you go with him?

That’s the decision that Kathy (Gina Holden) is faced with at the start of the Lifetime film, Sleeping With My Student.  What does she do when she’s given the opportunity to have one night of passion with Ian (Mitchell Hoog)?  Well, your answer is right there in the first half of the film’s title.  And, as you can probably guess from the second half of title, Ian eventually turns up as a student at Kathy’s school!  Even worse, Ian has a reputation for being a bad boy and a trouble maker and soon, he’s dating Kathy’s daughter, Bree (Jessica Belkin)!

Of course, it all turns out to be about more than just one night stands and bad disciplinary histories.  It turns out that it wasn’t a coincidence that Ian showed up at the hotel and jumped into the pool at the same moment that Kathy just happened to be there.  It also wasn’t a coincidence that Ian just happened to end up getting transferred to Kathy’s new school.  It’s all a part of a massive scheme that Ian has cooked up in order to get vengeance for something that happened in the past.  I mean, seriously, no one should be surprised.  There are no coincidences when it comes to Lifetime.

Speaking as someone who has seen a few hundred Lifetime films over the past few years, I enjoyed Sleeping With My Student.  Gina Holde, Mitchell Hoog, and Jessica Belkin were all well-cast in their rules and the great Gerald Webb showed up as Officer Compton, the school security officer who first explains that Ian is bad news.  Yes, the plot was a bit predictable but that’s honestly a part of the film’s appeal.  You don’t necessarily watch a Lifetime film because you want to see something unexpected.  Instead, the appeal of these films is to be found in their very predictability.  There’s something comforting in knowing that, on Lifetime, no one night stand will turn out to be just a one night stand and that the film’s villain will always do something particularly evil at the halfway mark.  The best Lifetime films are cinematic comfort food.  They give you exactly what you want and they don’t demand much in return and we’re all the better for it!

Lifetime Film Review: The Wrong Stepmother (dir by David DeCoteau)


“I hear that Maddie is one bad mother….”

“Shut your mouth!”

“But I’m talking about Maddie.”

“Then we can dig it!”

Actually, Maddie (Cindy Busby) is not a mother, though she would like to be.  She not even a stepmother, despite what the title says.  Instead, she’s just dating the recently widowed Michael (Corin Nemec).  If she does end up marrying Michael, Maddie will become a stepmother — perhaps even a WRONG stepmother — to his two daughters, Lilly (Calli Taylor) and Nicole (McKinley Blehm).

It doesn’t take Lilly long to realize that there’s something off about Maddie.  For one thing, she catches Maddie trying to check her social media.  Then she overhears Maddie claiming to be her mother.  And finally, Maddie changes up Lilly’s college admission essay.  See, Lilly wrote about how much her late mother influenced her.  Maddie, however, changes it into an essay about how much Lilly loves her future stepmother.

Yes, Maddie has some issues.  As we discover at the start of the film, she has a history of stalking people.  About halfway through the film, she murders two people.  Whenever you’re watching a film on Lifetime, you know someone’s going to get murdered at exactly halfway through the film.  You can set the time by it.

As with all of Lifetime’s “Wrong” films, Vivica A. Fox has a small role.  In this one, she plays Ms. Price, the high school guidance counselor who is extremely unimpressed by Lilly’s college admissions essay.  When Ms. Price confronts Lilly about how unimpressive her essay was, Fox delivers the lines with such subtle fury and annoyance that it brought back a lot of high school memories for me.  As played by Fox, Ms. Price is the type of high school counselor who scares you to death but who also changes your life for the better.  If Ms. Price had been my counselor, I definitely wouldn’t have spent so much time skipping class and shoplifting makeup at Target.

Anyway, the main complaint that you always hear about Lifetime films is that they’re all exactly the same but that’s actually their appeal.  They’re fun to watch, precisely because 1) they’re predictable and 2) the viewer is always going to be smarter than the people in the movie.  I mean, we can take one look at Maddie and say, “Okay, don’t let her in the house.”  However, Michael’s not that smart and, if he was, we really wouldn’t have a movie.  Sometimes, you just have to stop crying about plausibility and enjoy what you’re watching.

The Wrong Stepmother gets a big boost from the casting of the always likable Corin Nemec as Michael.  I mean, it’s pretty much impossible not to root for a character played by Corin Nemec, even if that character is way too trusting of someone who he met on a dating app.  Meanwhile, Cindy Busby is properly psychotic as Maddie and, of course, you’ve got Vivica A. Fox changing lives as Ms. Price.

The Wrong Stepmother is an entertaining Lifetime film.  Watch it with your snarkiest friends.