Thursday, January 28, 2016

Whisper of Fear Movie Review – AKA Stalkers

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: April 13, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Mark Tonderai

Time for yet another Lifetime movie review! What can I say? I had to watch what I could before they expired on Netflix.

Diane Harkin is a new to the force police officer. Though the city has a hiring freeze, she apparently had some friends in higher places who helped her land the job, which leaves her less than accepted by her peers. What they don't know is what she changed her name after leaving her abusive ex-husband and took off for a new city with their son in tow.

One of her first cases involves a woman forced off the road by her abusive husband and then shot to death. No one else takes it very serious, even when she shows them proof that the guy stalked her for years. She then takes on a case where a woman named Jane and her current boyfriend are stalked by a woman named Ivy. When Diane learns that Julia from the DA's office didn't file charges, she makes it her personal mission to help Jane in any way possible.

After Ivy continues her stalking, Diane turns to Julia for help. Since this is a Lifetime movie, Julia is currently sleeping with her married boss and believes that he'll help her set up a new task force to bring an end to stalking. He actually goes behind her back and decides to use the funds for that project in a completely new way. As Ivy's stalking intensifies, the two women decide to work together to change the current stalking laws.

As much as I usually love Lifetime movies, this one was way too ridiculous even for me. Jane has a boyfriend who she loves and then has a chance meeting in an elevator with Ivy. After her car won't start, Ivy gives her a ride home. The director tries to show that they have chemistry but it doesn't really work. We then get to see them on their third meeting where they suddenly have so much chemistry that they wind up having sex together.

Ivy somehow has access to all the boyfriend's financial records through her job, so she sets it up so that he loses the loan he already had secured for his new bakery. Can that even happen? The boyfriend goes to Jane, asks her to sign a loan for him, and then storms off and dumps her when she refuses. They then somehow wind up back together without the film explaining what the hell just happened.

It's also pretty ridiculous that this is based on a true story but changes everything about the real story. If I remember correctly, it doesn't even take place in the same city or same state. Drea de Matteo pretty much plays the same character that she does in every film: the hard and tough as nails NY/NJ chick, and Jodi Lynn O'Keefe as Julia practically sleepwalks through the whole film.

The only shining spot is Mena Suvari as Ivy. You can't see her inside the walls and staring at Jane through the vents without feeling at least a minor chill go up your back. Since the rest of the movie is pretty lame, I'm glad I watched it when I had nothing else going on.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Killing Game – Yet Another Lifetime Release

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: October 30, 2011
Rating: NR
Director: Bobby Roth

Eve Duncan is one of the top forensic sculptors working in the world today. She got into the profession after losing her daughter years ago. The serial killer who took and killed her little girl later got caught and found himself on death row, but he refused to tell anyone what he did with the child. When he dies, everyone thinks the horror is over.

That all changes when Eve begins receiving calls and letters from a man who seemingly knows everything about the killings done by the man recently killed. He then warns her that she must save a little girl currently in foster care before he kills her first. Even works with a cop, Joe, who clearly has a crush on her and a reporter by the name of Mark. Though the unknown man tells her that Jane reminded him of her little girl, the two really share nothing in common.

Eve later works with the police to identify Jane and find her current location. When her foster mother turns up dead, the police really aren't sure what to do other than put Jane in foster care. Mark finds her current location, takes Jane to her, and the two kidnap the little girl. Eve takes her to a friend's house out in the middle of nowhere until she decides what to do next. When her mystery man warns her that she needs to dig deeper, she takes that as a sign that she should go back and investigate each grave site uncovered in the past. The deeper she gets into the old cases, the closer she gets to Jane. Unfortunately, the new killer makes it clear that if she can't figure out his identity, she and Jane will be his next victims.

Laura Prepon, what the hell are you doing in a movie like this? This had to be between That 70s Show Ended and before Orange is the New Black started. Watching her in this movie though, I almost wonder how she got work after. No one in this film really does a good job. It's also confusing why they would cast Ty Olsson as Joe when the two have little to no chemistry. While there's some mild flirtation between the two of them, they later have sex and he confesses that he's in love with her, which seems to come out of nowhere. To make it even worse, she apparently loves him too, though she clearly had better chemistry with Mark.

The problem with The Killing Game is that nothing really happens. While it's terrible that he killed the foster mother, we then get stuck with multiple scenes of two characters roaming through the woods and talking without anything really happening. Something mildly interesting will occur, but then we're back to lots of talking.

Even the reveal of the real killer was fairly lame because he was only in a few scenes and didn't really have much of a role. I looked at my boyfriend as soon as the guy came on screen and said it was him. They do try to throw a red herring at us in the form of someone who actually had a major role in the movie, but the way they did it made it pretty clear that it wasn't him. The Killing Game was based on a popular book, and all I can say is that I hope the book was a lot better!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Perfect Guy – The Bad Kind of Lifetime Movie

Runtime: 100 minutes
Release Date: September 11, 2015
Rating: PG-13
Director: David M. Rosenthal

Leah is the type of classic movie character that I hate. Though she has a good job and a good life with her boyfriend of two years Dave, all she can think about is getting married and having babies. After a particular fight, she breaks up with him in the hopes of giving him time to think things over and realize that he wants to marry her and have lots of babies.

While sitting at the bar and waiting for a friend who cancels at the last minute, she meets an irritating businessman who keeps hitting on her. Enter Carter, an attractive man she met in passing at the coffee shop while still with Dave. Carter saves her from a bad situation and seemingly becomes the perfect man overnight. He treats her with respect, loves her cat, loves being around her friends and family, and even wants to make plans with her for the future.

It doesn't take long before he drops the L-bomb and wins over her father, making everyone think he is the perfect guy. That all changes when she sees his dark side. After a man keeps talking to her outside his parked car, Carter suddenly attacks and beats the man senseless. He apologizes and promises that he would never hurt her, but she's had enough and end things. That leads to Carter slowly stalking her, stealing her cat, and basically making her life a living hell while the police do little to stop him.

If you read my plot synopsis of The Perfect Guy and wondered why it sounded familiar, it's because it is literally the same plot of 900 made for television movies released in the 1980s and 1990s. When it ended, I looked at my roommate and said, “didn't we see this movie before,” which prompted him to say it was like a straight up bad Lifetime movie. It literally made no sense why this actually played in theaters and didn't wind up on television instead.

Everything about the movie is a total cliché. Leah is a busy working girl who never quite found the time to settle down and have a family, and Dave is the working guy who isn't quite ready to settle down with her. When she started whining about being 36 and still not being a wife and mother, I seriously wanted to slap her. Does that mean that she expects Dave to marry her and immediately knock her up? She was literally two seconds away from “forgetting” her birth control pills or poking holes in his condoms.

The only redeeming feature is Michael Ealy. I've seen him in a few films, most recently the remake of About Last Night, and I thought he was the standout. He's the perfect combination of sexy and suave in the beginning and dark and creepy later. You actually get why someone would fall in love with him so quickly. He even had a few moments that left me feeling a little squeamish, including when he licked her wineglass to get her lipstick off it and when he literally sucked on her toothbrush. Add to that a scene where he creepily holds her cat while remotely viewing her computer, and it's clear why he's the standout.

The Perfect Guy isn't a horrible movie, but it's one we've all seen many, many, many times before. It sadly lacked all the cheesy fun of a made for Lifetime movie too...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – My New Favorite

Runtime: 93 minutes
Release Date: October 30, 2015
Rating: R
Director: Christopher Landon

After seeing Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, I officially have a new favorite zombie/horror/spoof movie.

Ben, Carter, and Augie are best friends and scouts together. While Augie still loves being a scout, his friends actually hate it and are ready to quit, especially Carter who thinks they'll never have a chance with the ladies if they stay in the group. Scout Leader Rogers hosts a recruitment day designed to get new boys to join up, but even though it fails miserably, he plans to take them out on a group camping night.

Unfortunately, a janitor working in a biology/medical lab nearly accidentally releases a man infected with a zombie virus. Scout Leader Rogers discovers this for himself when he encounters a zombie deer in the woods and then an infected doctor. The three guys show up for the camp out and think it's weird that he never showed up but go ahead with it anyway. Ben and Carter try to sneak out in the middle of the night after receiving an invitation from Carter's sister's boyfriend to hit up the hot senior party. Augie catches them and seems sad but lets them go.

When the two boys arrive back in town, they find everything practically deserted. Carter thinks this is the perfect time for them to sneak into the strip club, which only ends up with them getting attacked by a zombie stripper and bouncer. Luckily Denise, a hot former student who dropped out of their high school to work at the club, is there to help. The new group of three then meet up with Augie and find themselves tasked with saving the world from the zombies trying to take over their town.

Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a movie that you really need to see for yourself. It's almost as funny as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil and exactly what I would expect to see in a movie where Tucker and Dale have to fight zombies. There were so many funny scenes that I thought it wouldn't hold up well to a second viewing. After watching it with the roommate one night, I watched it with the boyfriend the next night and loved it just as much.

Some of the more hilarious scenes revolve around Scout Leader Rogers who evidently cannot be killed. Augie accidentally sets him on fire and then leaves him tied to a chair in his basement, and he still survives. Oh, and did I mention that he has an obsession with Dolly Parton? I never thought I would see a movie with a teenage scout running from a zombie while 9 to 5 played in the background, but I'm glad I did.

The only real issue is the crush that Ben has on Carter's sister. She seems like a nice enough character but there's nothing really memorable about her. When he meets Denise and has clear chemistry with her – they even share a kiss – it's hard to see why he would waste his time trying to save a girl who basically never looked twice at him before and has a boyfriend.

Other highlights include Cloris Leachman as the neighborhood's crazy cat lady, the infection taking over her cats, and a teenage girl having a sexual encounter with a zombie. All in all, Scout's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse was just plain good fun.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

She Made Them Do It – Kind of a Screwy Story

Runtime: 90 minutes
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Rating: NR
Director: Grant Harvey

Sarah is a Purdue University student living in a house with her boyfriend, his friend, and the friend's girlfriend. As the movie begins, she's far from perfect. Not only does she use a lot of cocaine, but she's apparently been selling it with her boyfriend's help on campus. The money she makes goes straight into a box that she plans to take back with her to college. That's the plan until she checks it and finds it empty. Turns out that her male roommate took the money to pay for more drugs.

She Made Them Do It lets us believe that her boyfriend killed the two and that she helped him get rid of the bodies before going on the run. It doesn't take long before they both get caught and wind up in jail. Sarah meets a woman named Jamie who believes in her innocence and promises to help her, but she gets convicted off little evidence and gets 110 years in prison. While things don't necessarily go well for her, she does manage to make some new friends and even learn in the prison library.

When Sarah learns that a corrupt prison guard can help her get comforts of home in exchange for sex, she starts a relationship with him. That relationship ends with him working with Jamie to help her smuggle drugs into prison and later help her escape. She goes on the run with help from some of her former prison pals as a US Marshall follows on her tail.

Here's the thing, I lived in Indiana where this film is set and where the true story happened, and I literally never heard a single thing about it. The film does a good job of telling the story in such a way that you aren't really sure who to believe or know what really happened. While the director portrays Sarah as a sweet and wholesome college student, he also introduces evidence that shows her as anything but wholesome. She apparently threatened a woman who got in her way, might have encouraged her boyfriend to kill their friends before using the gun on them herself, and probably manipulated a lot of people to do everything she wanted them to do.

The problem is that I later went and read more about the actual case and doubt a lot of what the film presents. There is actually very little evidence that she did or had any part in the murders. The police had no evidence except for a letter she supposedly wrote to her boyfriend where she confessed to being there and taking part in the murders. He later said she never wrote it, and one of his cellmates stated multiple times that he forged the letter. There is also a jail house snitch who says she confessed to him, but he actually came forward with similar stories regarding other people.

As a Lifetime movie, She Made Them Do It is a lot better than some of the films I saw on the network over the years. Jenna Dewan Tatum is absolutely amazing and does a good job of making you wonder if she's innocent or guilty. I also have no clue why more people don't crush on her. As a straight women, I'd pick her over her husband any day. While it was an interesting movie, I highly encourage anyone who watches it to go back and read more about the real case after finishing it.