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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: 'Patient Killer'

We're one day away from the Lifetime Movie Network premiere of "Girlfriend Killer" -- the latest in a line of "Killer" flicks featuring actor/writer/producer Barbie Castro (recently interviewed by LM Mental).

For this review, we go back a few years to the excellent thriller "Patient Killer." Here, Castro plays Blaire, a woman plagued by sleepless nights and nightmares. She enlists the assistance of super psychiatrist Victoria Wrightmar (Victoria Pratt), who has some issues of her own. When she's not helping cure angry obsessive compulsive personalities like the slightly unhinged Derek (Patrick Muldoon), she's trying to manage her love life with super stud Jason (Casper Van Dien - who also directs). Oh...and Dr. Victoria had a patient named Dylan (David Chokachi), who became obsessed with her and committed suicide. So...for support she turns to her mentor Dr. Sylvan (Richard Burgi). 

She's struggling to maintain balance and overcome the guilt of her patient's death, but strange things start happening, including her office being ransacked and boyfriend Jason being beaten to a pulp. There are many red herrings in this thriller -- Derek, who gets weirder with every appointment; Dr. Sylvan, who may have a thing for Victoria; her secretary Nancy (Stacey Dash), who stashes a stun gun in her desk; or possibly even Blaire, who seems pretty helpless but might be harboring some secrets.

This is a classic "whodunnit...and why" thriller strengthened solid performances, particularly Pratt and Muldoon. Pratt is sexy as heck as the shrink who seems to have all the answers ... except to her own problems, and Muldoon is credible as the socially-awkward Derek, flashing nervous grins and twitches when chatting with his beautiful doctor. And Castro paints a perfect picture as the exasperated, helpless Blaire, whose nightmares might hold the keys to this mystery.

Also...this movie offers a "Starship Troopers" reunion of sorts! Original super "Troopers" Muldoon and Van Dien are in the house as is Burgi from "Starship Troopers 2." 

"Patient Killer" makes occasional airings on LMN, so keep an eye out for it. Or...if you really need a "Killer" fix, tune in this Thursday, June 1 at 7 p.m. (CST) for "Girlfriend Killer."

"Patient Killer": Directed by Casper Van Dien; Starring Victoria Pratt as Victoria; Casper Van Dien as Jason; Patrick Muldoon as Derek; Richard Burgi as Dr. Sylvan; Barbie Castro as Blaire; Stacey Dash as Nancy; David Chokachi as Dylan

Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: 'Sinister Minister'

What better day to debut a movie about a deviant preacher than SUNDAY? Of course, the smart team at Lifetime knows how to rock a movie premiere, and that was evident during last night's first showing of "Sinister Minister."

This is one of those "based on a true story" movies, and it begins with a bang (literally). Reverend D.J. (expertly played by Ryan Patrick Shanahan) concludes a hot tub lovemaking session with one of his church parishioners, then declares he needs to get home to his wife. When he gets there, however, she apparently has "committed suicide."

Well, the good reverend marries his lover Betsey (Liz Fenning) and moves on rather quickly. Enter Trish (Nikki Alexis Howard), a divorcee in need of a fresh start. She brings her weed smoking daughter Siena (Anjelica Briones) along for the ride, which is quite bumpy to say the least. Trish's life is pretty much a trainwreck, and Siena doesn't help matters. So, they begin to attend Rev. D.J.'s church, which is a very bad move. 

D.J. sets his eyes on Trish ... and eventually Siena. What does that mean for poor Betsey? Well, you can pretty much figure it out from there. Things seem to be going smoothly for the randy reverend until Trish's ex-husband John (Jeff Marchelletta) pops up to make things right. That means the Sinister Minister has to work overtime to get his way. Hot on his trail is supercop Detective Mann (Rachel G. Whittle).

This is a very good thriller with some awesome performances, particularly from the three leads. Shanahan is an excellent villain, flashing a smile while hiding his ulterior motives. Howard's performance as a woman at her wit's end is convincing, and Briones is the picture of a rebellious and impressionable teen.

Good supporting roles too, particularly Whittle and Marchelletta. And kudos to director Jose Montesinos ("Nightmare Wedding") and writer Delondra Williams ("Social Nightmare") for making this a memorable thriller.

"Sinister Minister" joins the ranks of other creature-preacher flicks on Lifetime and LMN - "Sins of the Preacher," "The Preacher's Mistress," etc. Still, this new entry into the Lifetime canon holds its own as an original, engaging and fun cautionary tale about faith, sex, and falling for wrong guy.

"Sinister Minister": Directed by Jose Montesinos; Starring Ryan Patrick Shanahan as D.J., Nikki Alexis Howard as Trish, Anjelica Briones as Siena, Jeff Marchelletta as John, Rachel G. Whittle as Detective Mann, Liz Fenning as Betsey, Chelly as George.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Not on Lifetime: 'When the Bough Breaks'

It's time again (finally) for another installment of "Not on Lifetime" -- movies that aren't on the network but easily fit the description of Lifetime/LMN flicks. This week's movie is "When the Bough Breaks," a movie I've been wanting to see since it was released last year. Thanks to Starz, I had my chance this weekend.

This pregnancy/baby thriller follows a formula not unlike the classic "Hand That Rocks The Cradle." In this movie, however, the villain isn't a nanny but rather a disturbed surrogate mother.

The plot revolves around childless couple John (Morris Chestnut) and Laura (Regina Hall). They visit a surrogate agency and are connected with a young lady who seems to be a perfect fit, Anna (Jaz Sinclair). At first, Anna seems like a wholesome, shy young lady. She introduces John and Laura to boyfriend Mike (Theo Rossi), who fails to impress. He's a serviceman, but comes across as a boorish lout.

So, things should be okay after Anna is successfully inseminated and becomes pregnant with a baby. This is a movie though, and things aren't quite that simple. You see, John is a bit of a hunk ... and once Anna comes out of her shell, she is freaking hot. So, there's some sexual tension ... mainly brought about by her undressing in the window and sending NSFW instant messages. And boyfriend Mike is an absolute nightmare. He's abusive and has a plan to hold the unborn baby for ransom and demand money from the very well-to-do couple.

John's suspicious, so he enlists the help of a buddy at his law firm, Roland (Michael K. Williams) to investigate Anna and Michael. Well, they discover that Michael's a first-class thug, and Anna is a bit of a trainwreck.

Unfortunately for John, Trainwreck Anna is really off the rails and envisions a life with him. He fends off her advances, not telling his wife. Quick note to guys ... when a hot chick sends you video strip-o-grams and dances around the house in her panties, tell your spouse!! There's really no way of explaining WHY you didn't say anything.

You see where this movie is heading, and it's pure Lifetime gold. There is a requisite showdown between the hapless parents and nutty mom ... and (spoiler alert) a feline fatality.

It's pretty easy to figure out where this movie is heading, but the results are still entertaining. Chestnut and Hall are no doubt effective as the picture perfect couple with some intimacy problems and other issues. Newcomer Sinclair works her magic as a sexy, and less than sane villainess. She easily balances sensuality with sinister underpinnings.

Veteran director Jon Cassar creates an uneasy environment for these characters. Although set in an upper crust New Orleans community, the vibe is tense ... with Anna sneaking looks at John while Laura is creating a dream nursery. The story is not unlike any made-for-TV movie, but I'm not complaining. In a world with special effects-laden, mind numbing blockbusters, it's always a relief to see a B-thriller like emerge on the big screen (even though I saw it on TV).

If you need a break from Lifetime...but absolutely can't do without the drama of sinister surrogates and sexually-frustrated spouses, this mainstream movie will do the trick.

"When the Bough Breaks": Directed by Jon Cassar; Starring Morris Chestnut as John Taylor, Regina Hall as Laura Taylor, Jaz Sinclair as Anna, Theo Rossi as Mike, Romany Malco as Todd, Michael K. Williams as Roland