The Bad Son February 2, 2011Posted by H$ in 30-36, H$, Uncategorized.
Birthday week! Birthday week! Wait, if it’s birthday week, why do I have to watch a crappy movie? Shouldn’t someone watch it for me, and then send me a card with a nice summary and a $10 check I will never actually cash?
Huh. Look’s like it’s up to me. Luckily, The Bad Son was worth it. Here’s how we begin:
“You don’t beat, strangle, and burn the face off of a teenage girl just to kill her. Rage. The cause of death was rage.”
This line, uttered in the first 5 minutes of this unlikely joyride, made a promise. That promise was that this movie, a convoluted tale of a hardass mom-cop going head to head with the world’s dumbest serial killer and his mama Bates, was going to be vintage TV movie schlock. The movie went to great lengths to keep that promise, and I am here to thank it.
The movie starts with the discovery of a teenage girl’s corpse in the woods. The cops debate her cause of death for a while, and eventually land on rage. The cops in this movie are complete idiots, as we will learn very soon. For now, just remember that they found a dead teenager, decided rage killed her, and called it a day.
Next we’re introduced to Ronnie McAdams, the archetypal hard ass mom cop. When we meet her, she’s arguing with her teenaged daughter about whether it’s a good idea for the kid to drop out of school and move in with her boyfriend, a scummy tattoo artist. The daughter storms off, and Ronnie gets one second to sigh dramatically and stare out the window over the sink. Kids, am I right?
Seriously, am I? I own an old, incontinent dog. I don’t really get these mommy angst subplots.
Ronnie goes to work, where a distraught father has traveled across state lines to try and find his daughter. Ronnie is equal parts nurturing and badass as she coaxes the story out of him. His daughter Colleen was a runaway who fled to Seattle for…uh, some reason with her baby son in tow. When she arrived there she hooked up with her creepy fiance Finn and fell off the face of the Earth. Dad hasn’t heard from her in two weeks, and is understandably concerned. Ronnie agrees to take the case. Wait, are cops allowed to pick which cases they work on?
Being a super-great cop and all, Ronnie goes to question Finn. First we meet his uncle Jerry, a muttery slumlord that could not look more suspicious if his hands were constantly covered in blood and viscera. Next we meet Finn’s mom Frances, who apparently saw One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest at a formative age. She storms through the movie equal parts hostile bitch and controlling know it all, and you will constantly want to throw something at her. Mom’s iron curtain of icy rage doesn’t prevent Ronnie from getting to Finn, who’s pretty “aw, shucks” about his fiancee’s disappearance. Dipshit, you murdered her! Try to act concerned or something!
Back at supercop HQ, Ronnie learns that Finn’s been investigated before. His previous fiance disappeared and died too. She looked the same too: petite, red-headed, sassy-
OH GOD! THE KILLER IS JOSS WHEDON! RUN, FELICIA DAY! RUN!
On the offchance that the killer is not Whedon and there’s still an investigation to do, Ronnie gets a partner. Detective Petrocelli (sp?) was on the case for the last murdered fiancee. While Finn was the main suspect on the fiancee murder, Petrocelli couldn’t make the charge stick, and Finn walked. Since then, he’s been obsessed with proving that Finn is a murderer. Petrocelli introduces himself to Ronnie by randomly bursting into her house while she’s fighting with her daughter. Petrocelli has about as much patience for subplots as I do, and immediately begins sharing gristly murder details with the feuding family. Ronnie tries to stay and talk to her daughter, but Petrocelli isn’t having it. The bratty kid picks up her suitcases and hauls ass, and Petrocelli spreads some dental records out on the table. I love this guy!
Further fuckery ensues when Ronnie bumps into Frances at work. See, Frances works for a magical department called “Master Information” or something, which means she can control all of the case file information for every criminal case ever. Natch, she’s been killing any files that involve her son. Frances also hates Petrocelli, referring to him as a “nosy Italian” and a drunk. This behavior would concern me, but Ronnie lets it go. Hey, why draw attention to your unstable racist co-worker whose directly connected to the murder case you’re investigating? Ronnie and Petrocelli discuss this development over the discovery of Colleen’s corpse. Time to kick it into gear, supercops, before Finn once again slips through your grasp!
Time for some backstory. Finn is a security guard at a bus station, a fact that the movie seems to think is a legitimate achievement as opposed the only career where you’re allowed to carry a taser and still receive minimum wage. He targets young runaways at bus stations and woos them with big dreams of basements for rent and 3rd shift jobs at the bus station coffee shop, and then they come home to meet Mom. Frances HATES these girls, calling them trash and basically taunting Finn into killing them. Then the cycle starts anew.
Of everything this movie has asked us to swallow, the idea that a guard at a bus station is an unstoppable pussy magnet is definitely the most confusing. Murder, I buy. Crazy mom, I’m on board. But a woman going ‘Hooray! The security guard who works nights at the bus station wants me to move into his basement!” and immediately boning him in the back seat of his car? No, movie. I call shenanigans.
Ronnie decides to show off her mad sleuthing skills by questioning Finn’s new girlfriend, a young redhead named Rebecca who works at the Cinnabon at the bus station. Their ensuing verbal chess match is stunning to behold. Allow me to summarize:
Ronnie: Hey, what’s your name?
Rebecca: I don’t have to tell you that.
Ronnie: Fair enough. Hey, your boyfriend might be a serial killer. Have you noticed him doing any murdery stuff?
Rebecca: What? Uh…no.
Ronnie: Seriously, he’s probably going to murder you.
Rebecca: Uhhh…there was a blanket stained with blood in the backseat of the car, and he smacked me when I asked about it. Is that serial killer stuff?
Ronnie: Yeah. I’ll look into that. OK, gotta go, try not to get murdered. Ronnie out!
In case you think I’m exaggerating for the sake of humor, that conversation really happened. Ronnie told Finn’s new girlfriend that he is a serial killer and then just wandered off. I’m beginning to see why the cops have had so much difficulty with this. I’ve seen parking tickets taken more seriously.
Ronnie and Petrocelli impound the potential murder mobile, but fail to find any evidence to link Finn to the murder. From here they just sort of start randomly harassing the family and hoping they’ll find something they can get Finn and/or Frances in trouble for. Somewhere in here, and don’t ask me why, the DA approves a bunch of warrants for Ronnie and Petrocelli to tap the family’s phones and search their records. Instead of doing the logical thing and, uh, doing that, they instead go to Finn’s house and “muscle him”. Unfortunately, their whole ability to muscle someone is based on making vaguely threatening statements about getting arrested, maybe, if they have some evidence eventually. Unfortunately for Rebecca, she spills the beans to Finn about the serial killer thing, and Frances connects the two pieces of data (as anyone with any sense would). The family decides that she has to be killed to protect them. Please note that they make this decision via a phone call that the wiretap warrant would have picked up and recorded. Seems like this call would probably be enough to put two people that are connected to two unsolved murder in custody. Apparently not.
EVERYONE IN THIS MOVIE IS AN IDIOT.
So, Rebecca gets led into the funtime murder basement, where she is chained to the ceiling and beaten and threatened with rape and all kinds of other nastiness. Just in case you weren’t sure that Finn was a creepy murderer, I guess. Luckily for her, Ronnie gets some kind of call that is apparently a “go”. We don’t know what that is, but that’s all we get: she yells “It’s a go!” and then they jump into a police car with armed backup and invade the house. I don’t know what a “go” is, but it apparently trumps all kinds of material and circumstantial evidence, so it’s good Ronnie got one. They get there in time to save Rebecca’s life, and find the files that Frances has been hiding in an upstairs closet. Murderous son, awful mom, and creepy uncle go into custody. Game over! Right?
Wrong! Let me tell you how stupid the end of the movie is. We get a final shocking reveal that all of Finn’s victims look like his mom when she was younger, which is gross. Finn is a complete jerkoff in questioning, and claims that he was just having rough sex with Rebecca in the bloody tarp-covered basement. Well, that’s airtight. Frances claims they have no evidence to prosecute them with. Well, let’s see:
- A surviving victim who is willing to testify
- Circumstantial evidence that ties both mother and son to two murdered fiancees
- Files connected to both of the cases, that had been missing from the file room, located in mom’s closet
- At least one recorded phone conversation where mother and son allude to murdering the surviving victim
- The fact that the fucking cops walked in on Finn beating someone to death
Yep, sure looks like they have nowhere to go from here.
Ronnie can’t tolerate that, so it’s time for some badassed mom justice. She walks into the uncle’s holding cell, picks him up and slams him into the ground. She hits him, screams at him, and browbeats a confession out of him. Fuck real police work when you can use police brutality!
PS: all of this is recorded on a surveillance camera. Guess how long that confession is going to stay on the record as evidence after a lawyer sees that?
Anyway, that’s our happy ending. Petrocelli and Ronnie decide to become permanent partners and pledge their eternal bro-hood. Ronnie’s daughter moves back home to the relief of nobody. Fade to black. OK then.
This movie was legitimately entertaining, and completely insane. I spent the whole time I was watching it on the edge of my seat, excited to find out what stupid twist would take place next. It was like the script was written on Bizzaro World, and they brought it here to film it. Super-cheesy, super-dumb, hammy acting, an impossible plot and non sequiters like “I love boxing. It’s like chess except…you know. They fall down.” from my man Petrocelli. Thumbs up. I can’t go full 20, because it’s not actually a GOOD movie, but an ironic 15 seems fair.
Star Power: 8
Everyone in this movie has been in everything. Frankly, googling them was kind of an ordeal. They’re all actors that get bit parts in TV shows and movies that Americans film in Canada, so they will look familiar to you. Notable actors include Catherine Dent as Ronnie, who as a lead in The Shield, Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles, and that awful Natalee Holloway movie; Ben Cotton as Finn, who was in every iteration of Battlestar Galactica and had recurring roles in Harper’s Island and Stargate Atlantis; and Marylin Norry as Francis, who had a bigger role in Battlestar Galactica and won Miss Congeniality 1976. Congratulations to her. I am too tired to google more, so if you recognize any of these people from anything more exciting, shout it out in the comments.
Hmm. On the surface, it’s a perfect 10. Badass cop mom relying on badass cop mom skills to bring a murderer to justice. BUT, there was also a mom on the wrong side of the law, AND badass cop mom was also kind of an idiot. So, I’m deducting 1 point for murder mom and 1 point for dumb mom. It seems fair.
31! It’s on Hulu, and I recommend it. If you’re snowed in with a bottle of cheap wine and want to really lady it up, you could do worse.