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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Review: 'Boyfriend Killer'

Sometimes, it pays to be single -- especially for the characters in Lifetime movies. Take for example the hapless males in "Boyfriend Killer." Sure, the beautiful Krystal (played by the awesome Kate Mansi) seems like a catch. Instead, she's both needy and deadly ... two traits that are a dealbreaker in any relationship.

The story begins with the untimely demise of young stud Preston (Michael Uribe). The audience is well aware that he was a murder victim, but his grieving (and divorced) parents Sandra (Barbie Castro) and Charles (Lifetime legend Patrick Muldoon) are clueless ... until they meet Krystal. Something is not right with this young lady. In spite of a sincere smile, Krystal seems to be hiding something. She showers Sandra and Charles with lies including a false engagement between she and Preston. Mom knows this young lady is up to something, but dad is a little slow on the draw -- after all, he's having some problems with the bottle. Unfortunately, Preston's best bro Troy is too horny to see the truth and hooks up with the scheming Krystal. So, it's up to Detective Sandra to save the day.

Complicating Krystal's fragile psyche is a psychologically abusive dad (Frank Licari) and her new conquest millionaire stud Jack (Eric Aragorn), who is beginning to see that she's trainwreck.

"Boyfriend Killer" is fairly typical of the genre, but a stellar cast helps it rise above expectations. Many kudos to the dueling leads Mansi and Castro. Mansi is the consummate villainess (see "Unwanted Guest" for another fine performance) with that wonderful smile concealing a sinister interior. Castro on the other hand is a cool yet devastated parent determined to bring down her son's killer. She is convincing in all the right scenes and brings some order to the chaos impacting her family. And props go to the always solid Muldoon as a guilt-ridden father coming to grips with his son's death and trying to overcome his own demons. He and Castro are perfect parents in this thriller. Nice supporting roles by veterans Yancy Butler (as Carrie, Sandra's BFF) and Susan Gallagher (as tough P.I. Marley Michaels).

Performances aside, tight direction from Alyn Darnay and a smart story from Christine Conradt keep this Lifetime effort entertaining. This movie might make singles wary of taking on a new partner, but I recommend setting a date with "Boyfriend Killer" the next time it airs -- tomorrow, Feb. 27 at 9 p.m. (CST) on the Lifetime Movie Network.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Review: 'Deadly Ex'

High school reunions can be a scary proposition. You're likely to run into people whose names you forgot ... ex-jocks trying to relive the glory days ... and unhinged former flames. In "Deadly Ex,"  a guy discovers the latter at his reunion and a brief flirtation turns his life upside down.

Gary (Jason Gerhardt) seems to have it all: a great career, loving wife, great kids, awesome home. Well, his wife is on his ass ... constantly. They're having both money and marital woes. Things are looking pretty bad, and he confesses his life's mess to his still hot high school love Valerie (the eternally beautiful Natasha Henstridge). They share a kiss at his reunion and meet a few more times ... as friends.

Gary's wife Jess (Marguerite Moreau) finds out about Valerie and is not happy. It doesn't help that Valerie is drop dead gorgeous and has been in town visiting Gary (a lipstick stained shirt contributes to his downfall). Although Valerie is tempting, Gary loves Jess and wants to repair their marriage. Valerie, however, has other plans. She stalks and sexts poor Gary until he is thrown out of the house.

This emotional pressure cooker builds to a predictable but bloody climax. What can I say?? I loved this Sunday night premiere on the Lifetime Movie Network! Then again, I love anything with Henstridge. Her performance in Lifetime classic "Widow On The Hill" is tough to beat, be she comes close in this one. As Valerie, Henstridge flashes that flawless smile but is ready to unleash her wrath at all the right moments.

Supporting actors Gerhardt and Moreau make for a perfect couple on the rocks, and the actors playing their kids (Matt Cornett as Zach and Sammi Hanratty as Carissa) round out the cast nicely. Hanratty is particularly good as the drama queen daughter.

Originally titled "Inconceivable," this movie is directed by Tom Shell, a guy who usually produces and acts in action flicks. This might explain the conclusion, which is a bit more violent than usual Lifetime movies. He handles the material expertly, balancing drama with schlock and ultimately delivering a memorable stalker movie.

"Deadly Ex": Directed by Tom Shell; Starring Natasha Henstridge, Jason Gerhardt, Marguerite Moreau, Matt Cornett, Sammi Hanratty, Ben Reed.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Review: 'High School Lover'

A celebrity stud falls for a high school teen queen. It's a perfect fairy tale story, but their romance is not only forbidden (and probably illegal) ... it's possibly deadly.

That's the premise for last night's Lifetime premiere of "High School Lover." This is the latest Lifetime epic to feature the talents of Oscar-nominated actor James Franco. In this movie, he plays super single dad Rick who is raising a gorgeous teen daughter Kelly (Paula Singer) and an equally cute little girl Rachel (Ashley Aufderheide). He also has a gorgeous live-in love Samantha (Julia Jones).

Life is awesome for the family, but Kelly is a a typical teen who likes parties and boys. Her two besties Allison (Lana Condor) and Larry (Tyler Alvarez) get her into a secret exclusive get-together where she meets Hollywood bad boy Christian Booth (Francois Arnaud). He zeroes in on Kelly, and she is smitten with him. One thing leads to another, and she begins seeing him on the sly. 

When dad Rick finds out, he's not happy. But he may be too late to convince his daughter that she's too young for Christian (who is 10 years her senior). Oh...and he had a previous relationship with Samantha, which adds to the tension. Kelly's in love, so she's deaf to her father's concern. It's not until Christian's controlling, crazed side emerges that she realizes father probably knows best. 

Twitter was on fire discussing this stalker drama last night and with good reason. "High School Lover" is pretty entertaining. This is part forbidden love story, part stalker drama and part horror movie. It adds up to a pretty solid made-for-TV movie. Franco handles the dad role effortlessly. He's sympathetic but stern as he tries to negotiate with his rebellious daughter. Singer's performance as the confused teen in love (and lust) with the movie star is convincing, and Arnaud is excellent as the celeb stalker.

The story (written by Amber Coney and Jessica Coney) somewhat plausible, and director Jerell Rosales keeps the tension boiling until the explosive (and predictable) climax. 

This movie echoes pre-Lifetime epic "Betrayed by Innocence" featuring Barry Bostwick as a director who unknowingly beds a teenager -- a far more serious movie. 

Check out "High School Lover" and try to suspend your disbelief as there are many unanswered questions. The most important being ... how can the tabloids overlook Christian's relationship with a high schooler ... and why weren't the cops involved when it was discovered that he was dating a teen?

Tune in the next time this is on Lifetime or LMN and perhaps you'll find these answers.

"High School Lover": Directed by Jerell Rosales; Starring James Franco as Rick Winters, Paulina Winters as Kelly, Francois Arnaud as Christian, Julia Jones as as Samantha, Lana Condor as Allison, Tyler Alvarez as Larry, Ashley Aufherderheide as Rachel