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Monday, June 27, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Wrong Child'

A kid shows up at your doorstep claiming to be a long, lost son. If you're smart, tell him he's at the wrong address ... then MOVE. Anyone who watches Lifetime movies regularly should know that forgotten family members who turn up out of the blue are usually psychos or crooks.

In "The Wrong Child" (which premiered last night on Lifetime), Vivica A. Fox finds herself torn between her husband (Gary Daniels) and an overly charming young man who pops up out of nowhere.

Fox plays Renee, a happily married shop owner with perfect family life. Husband Charles is a millionaire architect and beautiful daughter Amy (Stevena) is a great kid. Enter Andrew (Robbie Davidson), a well-mannered .. but creepy ... kid who says Charles is his dad. Charles is apprehensive, but Renee and Amy love this guy. In spite of dad's reservations, mom and sis are ready to set a place at the table for Andrew. A few other people share Charles' concerns including Renee's buddy Joyce (the always awesome Tracy Nelson) and Amy's BFF Darci (Alissa Latow).

It's not long before Andrew starts taking an interest in his new family. So much so, he installs surveillance cameras around the house. Then, a few people wind up dead and dad's office is vandalized. It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure out something is seriously wrong with Andrew, but Renee loves and trusts this kid, even telling her husband that she wishes she would have given birth to him!!

So, is Andrew just a misunderstood illegitimate kid or a dangerous psychopath? Well, this movie will likely be back on Lifetime or the Lifetime Movie Network soon, so LM Mental won't offer too many spoilers.

Davidson really steals the show as the sweet, psychotic Andrew. He's basically Norman Bates in a hoodie. Fox is effective as the clueless Renee, a loving wife who is blind to Andrew's intentions. Stevena and Latow are picture perfect as perky teens. The real surprise here is the return of Johnny Whitaker!!! I can't remember the last time I've seen him in a movie or TV show. He has a small but pivotal role towards the film's conclusion. Veteran director David DeCouteau keeps things rolling along nicely, leaving viewers wondering what Andrew is up to and adding a slasher/horror element to the film.

There are many scenes that will induce groans and eye rolls in "The Wrong Child," but it's definitely worth a watch. The cast alone rocks - Fox, Nelson and TV legend Whitaker - and as mentioned, Davidson might be the heir apparent to Anthony Perkins. It's a solid slasher effort with a few Lifetime twists and turns, so check it out and let me know what you think. Chances are it will be paired with Lifetime standards like "The Wrong Roommate" and "The Wrong Woman" during weekend marathons.

"The Wrong Child": Directed by David DeCouteau; Starring Vivica A. Fox as Renee; Robbie Davidson as Andrew; Stevena as Amy; Gary Daniels as Charles; Tracy Nelson as Joyce; Alissa Latow as Darci; Johnny Whitaker as Mr. Haight

Monday, June 20, 2016

#MyMovieMonday: The Doctor is In ... SANE

Tonight, Lifetime Movie Network airs the winner of its #MyMovieMonday vote - "Stalked By My Doctor" (7 p.m. CST). And ... this movie is indeed a winner.

Of course, any movie with Eric Roberts is a winner, and he really shines as an obsessed doctor with the hots for a teenage patient. The premise is creepy enough, but wait until you see Dr. Roberts' bedside manner!

The story focuses on teen queen Sophie (Brianna Joy Chomer) who is in a major car wreck when her cheeseball boyfriend is texting while driving. She is in really bad shape, so it's up to Dr. Beck to save her life. He's a brilliant surgeon, as well as a very lonely ... and NEEDY guy. The audience learns this when he scares off a few women earlier in the film. And he does so in epic fashion!!

So, he feels like God after saving Sophie's life ... and decides that perhaps she should be indebted to him. Never mind that she's probably 40 years younger than him! Dr. Beck is hearing wedding bells even though he's older than her parents!

Sophie's mom (Deborah Zoe) is concerned, especially after he's unwrapping bandages and applying ointments when a female nurse should be (but isn't) in the room. Sophie becomes suspicious too when the good doctor begins surprising her at the mall and asking her out. And dad (Jon Briddell)?? He's clueless like any other Lifetime patriarch!

Unfortunately for everyone, Dr. Beck is as smart as he is demented. He uses his access to medical records and personal information to wreak havoc on Sophie. And when he's called out on his weird behavior, he uses the ol' "Who me?" routine. Outside of Sophie and mom, no one seems to believe that he is capable of any wrongdoing. Well, things go from bad to worse ... but I won't spoil it for #MyMovieMonday viewers.

Roberts -- for better or worse -- is awesome when he plays psychos! After all, he earned an Oscar nod for playing a creep in "Star 80" and regularly rocks Lifetime in movies like this and "Fatal Obsession." Definitely check this out if you're a Roberts fan (like I am).

Outside of Roberts, "Stalked By My Doctor" is excellent Lifetime fare, blending thrills and seedy chills. It definitely is a perfect prescription for anyone's case of the Mondays.

"Stalked By My Doctor": Directed by Doug Campbell; Starring Eric Roberts as Dr. Beck; Briana Joy Chomer as Sophie, Deborah Zoe as Adrienne Green; Jon Briddell as Jim Green; Carson Boatman as Ryan

REVIEW "Mother May I Sleep With Danger"

It's been 20 years since the original film with the title "Mother May I Sleep With Danger" rocked Lifetime viewers and began the network's progression from syrupy chick flicks toward darker thrillers.

Now, James Franco brings a new vision for this title to the small screen. Actually, "new vision" doesn't even describe what premiered this weekend on Lifetime. Directed by Melanie Aitkenhead with a story by Franco, "Mother" is an entirely different beast from the first film, which focused on an obsessed stalker boyfriend (brilliantly played by Ivan Sergei) who terrorizes his true love (Tori Spelling at her best). The new version isn't really a reboot or sequel (although Sergei and Spelling are back ... as different characters). The only thing that's the same is the college setting.

In 2016's "Mother My I Sleep With Danger," Franco serves up a lesbian vampire fantasy set during a college production of "Macbeth!" So far, critics have been less than kind. I may be in the minority here, but this movie rocks!

Pearl (Emily Meade) is a vampire cursed to roam the earth for eternity with a gang of gothy girl vamps. How these ladies pay their college tuition is anyone's guess, but their base of operations is at a university ... and they all happen to be part of the theatre program. Enter Leah (Leila George), a gorgeous actor who defies the odds by auditioning for and getting the title role in the school's production of "Macbeth." Well, Pearl and Leila fall head over heels in love, much to the dismay of everyone: Leila's mom (Spellling), Leila's admirer Bob (Nick Eversman) and the gang of vamps.

While Pearl and Leah are making goo goo eyes at each other and/or making out, the vamp gang turns vigilante at frat parties, killing would-be date rapists. Meanwhile, a professor (Sergei) just happens to teach a class on vampires and sexuality.

Franco ups the pace quite a bit. Many Lifetime movies tend to move slowly and build to a rattling climax. In this movie, the action begins from Scene 1 and is pretty consistent. The sex and graphic violence is pumped up a bit too. In fact, it may be the goriest Lifetime movie I've ever seen.

Throw in a haunting soundtrack by former Smashing Pumpkins ax-man James Iha, and "Mother" Mark II is a pretty cool diversion from the standard Lifetime formula.

Meade and George are picture perfect in their roles, and Spelling is spot on as the snooty, intolerant mother. Also, Eversman personifies the emasculated nerd turned dangerous stalker.

Now, this movie could have easily have succeeded with a different title. My choices ... "Dead Week" or "A Cursed Affair." Regardless of the title, this undead romance is alive and well thanks to Franco and Lifetime.

Missed it this weekend? Check it out online courtesy of Lifetime!

"Mother, May I Sleep With Danger": Directed by Melanie Aitkenhead; Starring Leila George as Leah, Emily Meade as Pearl, Tori Spelling as Julie, Nick Eversman as Bob, James Franco as the director, Ivan Sergei as the professor

Friday, June 17, 2016

REVIEW: "The Night Stalker"

In the 1980s, serial killer Richard Ramirez rampaged through Los Angeles. When he was finally caught, he was charged with 13 murders and 14 sexual assaults. His heavy metal image and sinister appearance made him a media sensation and earned "fans" ... and this was before social media! He met his maker in 2003 while still awaiting his fate on death row, but the memory of his terror looms large in popular culture.

That's why we have this creepy movie, "The Night Stalker" (NOT to be confused with the awesome "Kolchak: The Night Stalker Series"). This film takes a look at the fascination with Ramirez, which I really don't get, and takes viewers on a psychological ride to hell and back.

Lou Diamond Phillips plays the killer while he was still alive. Sitting on death row, he's visited by lawyer Kit (the gorgeous Bellamy Young). She's been sent to get some information from him as a client in Texas in on death row for murder but may be innocent. If she can determine that Ramirez was indeed the actual killer (as he was in the same area at the same time), then she'll help an innocent man. Not as easy as it sounds.

You see, Kit has some issues of her own. The audience figures that out when she casually undresses with the curtains open in her hotel while some leering dude watches on. Ramirez is on to her. During their prison interviews, he calls her out and tries to get her to reveal herself to him.

Prison interview scenes with Ramirez and Kit are interspersed with flashbacks to their childhoods. Ramirez was exposed to drugs, violence (EXTREME violence), crime and sex at a very young age. Kit grew up in a very broken home. She was a teenager when Ramirez began his killing spree and was obsessed with every article and TV story on him.

Many people are comparing this movie to "Silence of the Lambs," but it watches more like "Dear Mr. Gacy" (a much darker film), a true story about a guy who meets and interviews real serial killer John Wayne Gacy. While the content is definitely disturbing (given that's semi-based on real events), there are some camp moments in "The Night Stalker." As a heavy metal fan, I was pleased to see that the teenage Kit (Chelle Sherrill) roams 1980s L.A. in a Pentagram T-shirt ... although the band was fairly obscure at the time. The teenage Ramirez (Andrew Ruiz) wears a fictional band shirt, "Death Kiss."

Phillips is pretty convincing as Ramirez though and even resembles him with his long hair and gaunt features. Young also delivers the goods as a conflicted lawyer trying to avoid revealing too much of herself to the killer ... while definitely harboring some pain from her youth. And although I poke fun at the depiction of 1980s metal garb, the flashback scenes were effective and featured talented young actors in Sherill, Ruiz and others.

It's not the typical Lifetime movie, but if you like horror flicks or thrillers, you'll enjoy "The Night Stalker," which returns to the airwaves at 7 p.m., June 24 on the Lifetime Movie Network.

"The Night Stalker": Directed by Megan Griffiths; Starring Lou Diamond Phillips as Richard Ramirez, Bellamy Young as Kit, Alice Rietveld as Inez, Louis Hertham as Jed, Chelle Sherill as young Kit, Andrew Ruiz as young Richard Ramirez, Kimberly Jurgen as Doreen, and Benjamin Barrett as Ramirez/The Night Stalker

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

REVIEW: 'The Boy She Met Online'

This is a "Throwback Thursday" review posted on a Tuesday. 2010's "The Boy She Met Online" makes the rounds on Lifetime and LMN, and I recently caught it on Xfinity On Demand. It's one of several social media/online thrillers dominating weekend marathons ... including "The Girl He Met Online," "The Bride He Bought Online" and "The Husband She Met Online."

As you can guess, this is another tale that will make parents second guess who their kids are talking to online. The story focuses on Cami (Tracy Spiradakos), a pretty, talented high school student. For some reason, this young lady feels the need to find love through the Internet and falls for dashing "college" student Jake (Jon Corr). As it turns out, Jake's place of higher learning is actually the school of hard knocks ... or as some people call it, prison.

Cami is being raised by her protective, single mom Tori (Alexandra Paul), who becomes suspicious of Cami's online activities. In the meantime, Jake gets out of prison and sets his sights and heart on Cami. He already has his shared of heartbreak. His mother and sister want nothing to do with him, so he's pretty much on his own ... except for a few shady contacts on the outside.

Cami and Jake meet and sparks fly. In the meantime mom Tori is at the end of her rope trying to figure out what's happening with her kid. Family friend Kendra (Thea Gill) is on the case though and begins to observe Cami's suspicious behavior. Once mom figures out what's going on, she's desperate to stop this relationship. That won't be so easy because Cami is hooked on her freed former jailbird.

So, what are Jake's intentions? Does he mean bad news for Cami? Is she being sucked into the criminal underworld? Or, could he actually be the prince she believes him to be?

Although this is an oldie but a goodie, I won't offer any spoilers. I will recommend it though. Great cast including the always excellent Paul as the exasperated mom. There are a few hard to believe moments though. Like, do prisons not monitor social media or online communications? Would Jake really be able to hook up with a teen using the prison Internet? And would Jake really emerge from a prison stay looking unscathed? And would Cami really need to find a boyfriend online?? As mentioned, she is a gorgeous young lady. I am sure tons of competent suitors are at her high school.

Regardless of plot holes or inconceivable aspects of the script, the cast's chemistry keeps things in check. And it competently transitions from forbidden romance into a thriller ... complete with a requisite Lifetime ending.

Look for this nugget on Xfinity on Demand (under Free Movies) or on Lifetime Movie Club.

"The Boy She Met Online": Directed by Curtis Crawford; Starring Alexandra Paul as Tori Winter, Tracy Spiradakos as Cami, Jon Corr as Jake, Thea Gill as Kendra, Eddie Guillaume as Dewayne, Tim Finnigan as Edgar