Lifetime Film Review: The Madam of Purity Falls (dir by Sam Irvin)


One of the first rules of moving to a new place, avoid any location that has a potentially ironic name.

Seriously, don’t live near a virgin spring.  Don’t move into the house at the end of Charity Drive.  Avoid Peaceful Meadows at all costs.  Happy Street?  Don’t even think about it.  And Purity Falls?

Listen, there’s no way that moving to a town called Purity Falls is a good idea.

Still, that’s what Nicole and her children do in the Lifetime film, The Madam of Purity Falls.  The recently widowed Nicole (Kristanna Loken) even gets a job as the guidance counselor at Purity Falls High School!  Since the family is still struggling to come to terms with the death of Nicole’s husband and the children’s father, the hope is that a new home can help them move on.  Younger sister Justine (Sloane Avery) is willing to give it a try.  But older brother Jason (Trevor Stines) is resistant from the beginning.  Even meeting and befriending Chad (Jonathan Bouvier) doesn’t seem to help with Jason’s angst.  Of course, Chad is soon found floating in a swimming pool, dead.  Can you believe such a thing could happen in Purity Falls?

Trying to adjust to a new school, Jason joins the wrestling team and even meets a girl who seems to like him.  But how can Jason go on a date when he doesn’t have a car!?  And how can he get a car if he doesn’t have any money!?  Hey, wait a minute.  Didn’t his new neighbor, Courtney (Olivia d’Abo), mention that she had some odd jobs that she needed done around the house and that she would be willing to pay him to do them?  At first, Jason is reluctant to work for Courtney but one of his fellow wrestling teammates assures him that working for Courtney will be the greatest experience of his life.

Courtney has a nice big house and a lucrative job selling organic cosmetics.  Everyone in Purity Falls seems to know her.  She puts Jason right to work, paying him for landscaping and sex.  Realizing that there’s a lot of money to be made from being a suburban prostitute, Jason agrees to become one of Courtney’s “boys.”  Soon, he’s sleeping with almost every frustrated housewife in Purity Falls, making all sorts of money, and getting into all sorts of danger!

Of course, Nicole is curious as to why her son keeps sneaking out of the house and then staying out for so long.  And some of Jason’s clients are into some things that make Jason uneasy.  And, of course, there’s the fact that people are dying.  Hmmmm …. being a suburban prostitute might not be as easy as it looks!  But is Jason already in too deep to escape his new life?

The Madam of Purity Falls is an enjoyably over-the-top in execution as it is in its name.  This is one of those films where everyone lives in a nice, big house and they’ve all got nice, big secrets to hide.  Don’t take the film too seriously.  Just enjoy it for the melodrama and the sex and for Olivia d’Abo’s enjoyably villainous turn as the Madam of Purity Falls.

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #9: Inspired To Kill (dir by Michael Feifer)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Wednesday, November 30th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

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Wow, it’s Antonio Sabato, Jr. again!

That’s right, Inspired To Kill co-stars Antonio Sabato, Jr.  Interestingly enough, the previous movie that I watched in my effort to clean out the DVR, Remote Paradise, also co-starred Antonio Sabato, Jr.   Also interestingly enough, both Inspired to Kill and Remote Paradise feature Sabato playing an enigmatic, older man who has an affair with a lonely and insecure woman.  In both films, it turns out that Sabato is not exactly who he first appears to be.  (If you want, feel free to insert your own joke about Sabato endorsing Donald Trump here because I’m too lazy to come up with one.)  Perhaps not coincidentally, both films were directed by Michael Feifer and both films premiered on the Lifetime Movie Network.

(For the record, I recorded Inspired To Kill off of LMN on November 13th.)

Inspired To Kill tells the story of Kara (Karissa Lee Staples), a self-described aspiring writer who is recovering from a personal trauma.  (Her boyfriend was murdered, which is definitely one way to get out of a relationship.)  Having fled the painful memories of her former life in New York City, Kara is now living in Los Angeles and everything should be perfect….

Except, it’s not!

Yes, Kara may be living in L.A. but everyone knows that, if you want to be a real writer, you have to live in NYC.

Yes, Kara has been accepted into a prestigious creative writing program but her professor (Jay Pickett) is a total sleaze who keeps trying to hit on her.

Yes, Kara has managed to land a job as a barista but her boss (Daniel Booko) is a demanding jerk.  He even gets upset when she misses work for several days in a row.

Yes, Kara has met the cute and charming Jason (Matthew Atkinson) but Jason sometimes seems oddly hesitant about pursuing a relationship with her.  (Plus, Jason wants to be a lawyer, which means that, when the revolution does come, he might be on the wrong side.)

Yes, Kara is renting a room from the fun-loving Charlie (Olivia d’Abo) but Charlie is also a heavy drinker and can be a bit self-absorbed.  Charlie’s solution to every problem is to go out, get drunk, and pick up a college student … actually, Charlie might have the right idea…

And yes, Kara has finally managed to meet her idol, the true crime writer P.K. Reese (Antonio Sabato, Jr) but there seems to be something a little bit off about him.  He’s supportive of her as a writer but, at the same time, he gets upset if anyone other than him reads her work.  He says that he wants to meet her friends and yet, he goes out of his way to avoid them.  And when more and more people in her life start to suddenly die, Kara finds herself wondering if maybe her new lover was somehow involved…

You’re probably thinking that you’ve got Inspired To Kill all figured out but there’s a big twist that occurs towards the end of the film.  Now, I have to admit that I figured out the twist, largely because I’ve seen so many Lifetime films that it is now basically impossible to fool me.  But, even with that in mind, the twist was still pretty clever and actually, a lot of fun in its wonderfully implausible way.  I mean, if you’re expecting the twist to actually make any sense than you have no business watching a Lifetime movie in the first place.  Don’t worry about logic.  Just sit back and enjoy the film.

Anyway, I rather liked Inspired To Kill.  It’s an enjoyable and well-acted little thriller, one that will keep you entertained.  It’s the type of unapologetically crazed and lurid melodrama that reminds me why I fell in love with the Lifetime Movie Network in the first place.  Inspired To Kill is a lot of fun.  Keep an eye out for it!

2015 in Review: The Best of Lifetime


Today, I continue my look back at 2015 by posting my picks for the best of Lifetime!  My nominees for the best Lifetime films and performances are listed below, with the winners starred and listed in bold!  Congratulations to all the nominees and winners and thank you for making this one of the most entertaining years in my long history of watching Lifetime movies!

deadly-adoption

Best Picture
Babysitter’s Black Book, produced by Robert Ballo and Ken Sanders.
Cleveland Abduction, produced by David A. Rosemont and Stephen Tolkin
*A Deadly Adoption, produced by Fritz Manger, Max Osswald, Will Ferrell, and Adam McKay.*
If There Be Thorns, produced by Richard D. Arredondo and Harvey Kahn.
A Mother’s Instinct, produced by Oliver De Caigny and Timothy O. Johnson
Patient Killer, produced by Barbie Castro.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, produced by Joseph Boccia, Don Carmody, and David Cormican.
The Spirit of Christmas, produced by Andrea Ajemian
Stalked By My Neighbor, produced by Robert Ballo.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, produced by Ian Hay.

Best Director
Jason Bourque for A Mother’s Instinct
Doug Campbell for Stalked By My Neighbor.
*Rachel Goldenberg for A Deadly Adoption*
Alex Kalymnois for Cleveland Abduction
Vanessa Parise for The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
Casper Van Dien for Patient Killer

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Best Actor
Shaun Benson in Kept Woman
Dan Castellaneta in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story
*Will Ferrell in A Deadly Adoption*
Travis Hammer in The Bride He Bought Online
Adam Kaufman in A Mother Betrayed
Eric Roberts in Stalked By My Doctor

Best Actress
Josie Bissett in A Mother’s Instinct
Anna Camp in Caught
Kimberly Elise in Back to School Mom
Kelli Garner in The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe
*Taryn Manning in Cleveland Abduction*
Kelcie Stranahan in Stalked By My Neighbor

Best Supporting Actor
Ken Camroux-Taylor in Sugarbabies
MacKenzie Gray in If There Be Thorns
Richard Harmon in A Mother’s Instinct
*Patrick Muldoon in Patient Killer.*
Eric Roberts in A Fatal Obsession
Peter Strauss in Sugar Daddies.

Unauthorized Beverly Hills

Best Supporting Actress
Angeline Appel in Babysitter’s Black Book.
Barbie Castro in Patient Killer
Olivia d’Abo in Stolen From The Suburbs
Sarah Grey in A Mother’s Instinct
Jessica Lowndes in A Deadly Adoption
*Samantha Munro in The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story*

Best Adapted Screenplay
*Cleveland Abduction, written by Stephen Tolkin*
If There Be Thorns, written by Andy Cochran.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroewritten by Stephen Kronish and J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Seeds of Yesterday, written by Darren Stein.
Turkey Hollow, written by Tim Burns and Christopher Baldi.
Wuthering High School, written by Delondra Williams.

Best Original Screenplay
*Babysitter’s Black Book, written by Richard Kletter and Michele Samit*
A Deadly Adoption, written by Andrew Steele.
The Murder Pact, written by John Doolan
Patient Killer, written by Bryan Dick and Brian D. Young.
Stalked By My Neighborwritten by Doug Campbell.
Stolen From The Suburbs, written by Alex Wright

clevelandabduction

Best Cinematography
*Cleveland Abduction, Richard Wong.*
Fatal Obsession, Ronnee Swenton.
If There Be Thorns, James Liston.
The Murder PactBranden James Maxham.
Patient Killer, Bernard Salzmann
The Spirit of Christmas, Michael Negrin.

Best Costume Design
Grace of Monaco, Gigi Lepage
If There Be ThornsShanna Mair, Rebekka Sorensen.
Kept Woman
*The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe, Gersha Phillips.*
Seeds of Yesterday, Claire Nadon.
The Spirit of Christmas, Jennifer Lynn Tremblay.

Best Editing
Babysitter’s Black Book, Ely Mennin
Cleveland Abduction, Henk Van Eeghen.
*A Deadly Adoption, Bill Parker.*
A Mother’s Instinct
Stalked By My Neighbor, Clayton Woodhull.
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Allan Lee.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
*Cleveland Abduction, Dugg Kirkpatrick, Susan R. Prosser, Tina Roesler Kewin, Alan Tuskes, Alicia Zavarella*
Grace of Monaco
If There Be Thorns, Jenine Lehfeldt, Tana Lynn Moldovanos.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Jordan Samuel, Cliona Furey
The Spirit of Christmas
The Unauthorized Beverly Hills 90210 Story, Amber Crombach.

Best Original Score
Dangerous Company
Cleveland Abduction, Tony Morales.
Her Infidelity, Russ Howard III
Kidnapped: The Hannah Anderson Story, Matthew Janszen
*The Murder Pact, Matthew Llewellyn.*
Sugar Daddies.  Steve Gurevitch.

heather-graham-if-there-be-thorns

Best Production Design
Cleveland Abduction, Derek R. Hill.
*If There Be Thorns, Linda Del Rosario, Richard Paris.*
A Mother’s Instinct, Jason Sober.
The Murder Pact, Caley Bisson.
The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe.  Rocco Matteo.
The Unauthroized Beverly Hills 90210 Story

Best Sound
*The Bride He Bought Online*
Dangerous Company
If There Be Thorns
Stalked By My Neighbor
UnGodly Acts
Whitney.

Best Visual Effects
Becoming Santa
If There Be Thorns
Last Chance For Christmas
*Turkey Hollow*
When the Sky Falls
Wish Upon A Christmas

Tomorrow, I’ll post my picks for the worst 16 films of 2015!

A-Deady-adoption-dancing

Previous Entries In The Best of 2015:

  1. Valerie Troutman’s 25 Best, Worst, and Gems I Saw in 2015
  2. Necromoonyeti’s Top 15 Metal Albums of 2015
  3. 2015 In Review: The Best of SyFy

Adventures in Cleaning Out The DVR: Stolen From The Suburbs (dir by Alex Wright)


Stolen From The Suburbs

After I watched 16 and Missing, it was time to continue cleaning out my DVR by watching Stolen From The Suburbs.  Stolen From The Suburbs is a Lifetime film that originally aired on August 30th and I’m not sure why I missed watching it the first time that it aired.

If I had to describe Stolen From The Suburbs in one word, it would be intense.  From the opening scene, in which two homeless teenagers are forcibly abducted by a man who pretended to be from a charitable organization to the film’s final violent stand-off, this is one intense film.  While it has all the usual Lifetime tropes — rebellious daughter, overwhelmed single daughter, untrustworthy men, and hints of real-world significance — Stolen From The Suburbs is a hundred times more intense than your average Lifetime film.  Indeed, this is one of the rare Lifetime films that ends without the hint that everything is going to be okay.  While there are hugs at the end, there is no reassuring coda.  The emotional and physical damage inflicted in Stolen From The Suburbs feels real and has real consequences.

Widowed Katherine (Cynthia Watros) and her teenager daughter, Emma (Sydney Sweeney), has just moved to the suburbs.  Katherine is a loving mother and Emma is a good daughter, the type who even turns down a beer on the beach because she told her mother that she wouldn’t drink.  However, when Emma meets the cute (and asthmatic) Adam (Nick Roux), she starts to resent her mother’s overprotectiveness.  When Katherine finally says that she doesn’t want Emma hanging out with Adam, Emma responds by sneaking out of the house and never returning.

Desperately searching for her daughter, Katherine goes down to the mall and finds Emma’s cell phone tossed away in a dumpster.  When she calls the police, Katherine tells them that Emma has been kidnapped.  The unsympathetic detectives ask her if Emma has a history of running away and basically prove themselves to be useless.  (The cops are always useless in a Lifetime film.)  Katherine teams up with Anna Fray (Brooke Nevins), a missing persons activist, to find Emma.

What Anna tells Katherine is terrifying.  Anna explains that teenage girls have been vanishing all over town.  The police assume that they are runaways and make no effort to find them.  In reality, though, the girls are being sold as sex slaves.

And that’s exactly what happened to Emma. Emma and several other teenage girls have been abducted and are now locked in a cage.  In just a few days, they will be auctioned off to the highest bidder.  Overseeing the entire operation is Milena (Oliva d’Abo).

As played by d’Abo, Milena is one of the great Lifetime villains.  As she explains it, she was kidnapped herself and sold as a sex slave.  However, she has now managed to take over the operation and takes obvious pleasure in putting others through the same torture that she suffered.  Playing the role with an ever present smirk and a haughty cruelty, Olivia d’Abo is absolutely chilling as Milena.

Also giving a great performance is Cynthia Watros.  (You may remember her as Libby on Lost.)  Watros makes Katherine’s pain and desperation feel incredibly real and when she finally confronts Milena, it’s absolutely riveting.

Stolen From The Suburbs is an excellent Lifetime film.  Keep an eye out for it!