Flowers in the Attic January 20, 2014Posted by Rusty in 30-36, flowers in the attic.
Before Saturday night, I didn’t know a thing about Flowers in the Attic. I knew there was some incest, which, I guess, is kind of a big thing. The incest is notable. Very notable incest. But, beyond that, I just knew that a great many of my lady friends – H$ included – have read Flowers in the Attic and have a special place in their heart for it. And they all told me to watch the Lifetime adaptation because the book was crazeballs. I straight up accused one of lying to me when she told me a character gets tarred. Literally tarred. Well, she made an idiot out of me.
(A quick note: I “livetweeted” this whole shebang at my personal account. It went very well! But the pressure of making dozens of spur of the moment jokes kind of takes away from the whole “pay attention and work on making jokes later” strategy I’ve been using since August, 2007. I might have missed some things while taking screenshots of a grandmother threatening her family with a knuckle sandwich.)
So we meet the, ugh, Dollanger family. All of their names begin with “C.” (Because of this, I am going to stick to calling Heather Graham “Mommy.” Going back and forth to make sure I have the right C-name; this is time consuming enough as it is!) The four blonde kids are called “The Dresden Dolls.” “They call us that because we look perfect.” “We are perfect,” replies the mother in the first of many examples of top-notch screenwriting. Anyways, they’re perfect family does not have a dad with a perfect driving record. The dad dies in a car accident right after getting that big promotion to Head of Sales! Aw, shucks!
So now we start learning some fun family secrets. The family’s wealth was built on credit. Which is to say the bank would like their stuff back, please. Oh, and Mommy and Daddy were also niece and uncle. So there’s that. Mommy and Daddy got disinherited from their family after eloping (THIS IS A REASONABLE REASON TO DISINHERIT SOMEONE!) and now Mommy needs to go groveling back to her wealthy, religious, anti-incest family to get back into the will. In order to do this, Mommy needs to pretend that her kids don’t exist since the kids are the product of Satan or something.
The only reasonable thing to do here is lock them in an attic.
Here’s what we’ve got: Christopher, Jr, probably around 16-years-old. Cathy, probably around 14-years-old. And twins, Carrie and Cory who are probably around five. We can forget about the twins. They are only good for getting pale and eating poison doughnuts. Let’s focus on the older kids, Christopher and Cathy. These two assholes are the stupidest kids in popular culture since Lex and Tim in Jurassic Park. Sixteen and 14 is old enough to know better about incest. And, probably more importantly!, it’s certainly old enough to not get physically abused by your crazy grandmother and old enough to make an escape. By the end of this movie you’d think these kids WANTED to stay in an attic.
Oh, the grandmother. She is played by The Wicker Man’s Ellen Burstyn. She is a national treasure. And she will not take any of your guff or backtalk.
Granny certainly has her talons in this family. She asks Mommy to show her kids what happens when people disobey, and Mommy reveals that her back has been all Kunta Kinte’d up. Granny loves her switch.
The plan here is to hide the kids in the attic, wait for the rich Grandfather to die, and then they can leave with their inheritance. This is a stupid plan. It’s kind of hard to predict when an old man will die. The getting back into the will part proves easy enough though. Grandpa throws a big party celebrating The Prodigal Mommie Dearest’s reunion with the family. Mommy even lets Christopher and Cathy sneak around the house to watch Mommy being showered with congratulations and jewels. They also find out that Mommy is dating a lawyer who doesn’t know about the kids.
So, here’s where I start to get lost. Cathy is complaining that they have been in the attic for over a year and they havent seen their mom in over a month. WHOA! Are we on Downton Abbey time? That was a 2001-esque flash-forward. That brings me back to how these kids are too old for this shit. Punch Granny in the face! Run! Do something!
Anyways, mom was honeymooning in Venice. And Granddad has been dead for months. The attic isn’t about secrets anymore. It’s about convenience.
So, naturally, when Christopher and Cathy escape the attic they spend the night swimming in a lake and handfeeding a deer. The movie has already shown that the train station is within walking distance of their mansion-prison. Go! You stupid fucking kids!
Mom’s new husband is later shown shooting the deer. Someone on Twitter pointed out that he was going “metaphor hunting.”
So while the Christopher and Cathy are doing an incredible job of not escaping their prison, Granny keeps accusing them of having inappropriate feelings towards each other. I mean, if you get burned by the incest bug once, shame on them. Get burned twice, shame on me.
Grandma gets burned twice.
Grandma does whatever she can to separate Chris and Cathy (except for, you know, NOT LOCKING THEM IN A FUCKING ATTIC) and even tries to ugly up Cathy by forcing her to cut her hair or watch the twins get starved out. They call Granny’s bluff, but Grandma win out by TARRING CATHY’S HAIR IN HER SLEEP. Chris helps cut the hair and begins half an hour of awkward touching and stolen glances that culminates in full blown intercourse.
Look, I love Lifetime and the source material here seems a wee bit over-the-top. I was ready for something ridiculous. It’s to Lifetime’s credit (?) that, man, this was GROSS. Ack. I will go out on a limb here and say that the scariest thing about a movie with so much physical abuse and torture was watching these two get completely unmoored and start boning each other. Props (??) to Lifetime.
Let’s wrap this up. All the kids end up sick and the boy twin even needs to go to the hospital. He dies. Turns out Mommy was putting arsenic in their doughnuts. The kids now – NOW! – realize they need to escape. Naturally, the family has built an electric fence around the perimeter of the property, so there’s no way out! Thankfully they run into Mommy’s new husband, explain that they are his secret stepkids, and HE ACCEPTS THIS NO QUESTIONS ASKED and helps them escape. THE END.\
AWESOMENESS: 16 (out of 20)
The dialogue was terrible, the kids were idiots, and the pacing was way, way off. The screenplay was amateur hour. But, man, at the end of the movie, I felt GROSS. The bad guys, Mom and Grandma, were off-the-rails evil and it was awesome. If I was flipping through and this turned up, I would keep it on. It’s like Lifetime-squared.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY! 10 (out of 10)
I mentioned that Grandma was played by national treasure Ellen Burstyn. Burstyn was the bad guy in The Wicker Man remake, so she presumably knows how it got burned. Oh, she was also the lead in my favorite movie ever (The Exorcist) and was the female lead in Requiem for a Dream. Woman knows her way around the creepy.
Mommy Dearest was played by Heather Graham, aka Roller Girl from Boogie Nights. She was great in this. All of her bad actress tendencies were put to good use. The vapidness came off as creepy instead of, you know, vapid.
Cathy was played by Kiernan Shipka from Mad Men. She will be very famous some day and look back at this movie and have a good chuckle.
LIFETIMENESS: 7 (out of 10)
All the bad “guys” here were women. That’s unusual! The family unit was fine until the patriarch died. And what happens when you lose the man of the house? Your kids get locked in an attic! The stepdad was the only non-evil non-hostage in the whole movie. This movie was big on good dads.
GRAND TOTAL: 33 (out of 40)
Still, though. This movie brought the goods. Melodrama, incest, neglect, abuse, deer. I’m guessing Lifetime will rerun the Hell out of this, so set your DVRs accordingly.
And it’s good to be back! See you next week for the Lizzie Borden movie!
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.
Defending Our Kids: The Julie Posey Story January 19, 2011Posted by Kate in 30-36, cyber seduction, Kate Sullivan-Jones.
Tags: annie potts, defending our kids: the julie posey story, internet creeps, julie posey, lifetime, lifetime movies, montel williams, pedophiles
When I was 12, my parents bought a Mac Performa with a 14.4 modem. That summer, my friends and I would anxiously wait as that computer noisily attempted to connect to America Online, so that we could go into chat rooms and tell lies. In the “Married but Looking” room, we convinced a man to meet us at the food court in the mall in Denver, Colorado. “You’ll know who I am,” I typed from my living room on Cape Cod, “I’ll be the one with the long black hair and the tight leather minidress.” “I’m twelve, and I’m in college, and I’m looking for a man,” my friends and I gigglingly announced in another chat room, only to end up feeling guilty when we were instant messaged by an adult expressing concern for the promiscuous prepubescent genius.
As far as Lifetime is concerned, my experience was unusual. Chat rooms are actually filled with pedophiles waiting to kidnap and molest innocent children. Thank God for Julie Posey.
Defending Our Kids is only part of the Julie Posey story. In the movie, Annie Potts plays a suburban mom who pretends to be a young girl online to help cops track down internet pedophiles. The real Julie Posey did this, too, but she also went on the Montel Williams show, where she was reunited with the son she gave up for adoption when she was in high school. If you watch the video, you’ll learn that her son was conceived when Julie was being sexually abused. If you Google Julie Posey, you’ll find that she wrote a book with her son about how they were brought together by MySpace and Montel. You’ll also find this distressing page, which suggests that her daughter Kristyn disappeared with her baby. In short, poor Ms. Posey has led the most Lifetimey life possible.
The movie version starts with Julie and her husband celebrating with Kristyn on her thirteenth birthday. Kristyn brattily rejects the clothes her mother gives her, but swoons over the new laptop her father has set up in her pretty pink bedroom. Almost instantly, Kristyn has arranged a meeting with a guy who calls himself “MAGICMAN.” Julie gets there just in time to drag her daughter away from the middle-aged creep, but when she tries to report the scumbag to the police, they tell her no crime has been committed. Julie and two detectives, who I’ll call Benson and Stabler, decide to set up an internet sting: Julie will pretend to be “Candy,” a young teen looking for older male company in chat rooms. She’ll agree to meet the pedophile, then the cops will arrest him. She even gets help from her daughter! “Don’t put ‘reading’ as an interest in your profile,” sneers Kristyn, “put ‘chillin’ instead.” Clearly, the screenwriter did not have a helpful teenage daughter.
Julie’s husband is concerned that this is a bad idea, but what does he know? He’s just a man. Feminism, according to Lifetime, means never having to listen to your stupid husband.
Because everyone in this movie is an idiot, Detective Benson dresses up as a middle schooler to meet the perverts in real life. I mean, I understand that they can’t use an actual child, but couldn’t they find a young-looking college student instead of an obvious cop?
Oh, also the detectives are dating each other. Oh, and Julie is hiding the fact that she was sexually abused as a child. What could go wrong?
Well, Julie could imagine that the pedophile that fake teenager Benson is meeting at a diner has a gun, then freak out and blow the bust. Ladycop Benson understands that it was a mistake, but mean mean Mancop Stabler refuses to work with her anymore. Julie’s husband is relieved that she’s back in the kitchen where she belongs.
For like five seconds. Then, Julie gets served and has to go to court and tell everyone that she was abused, which makes her look like a vengeful nutbag. This throws doubt on the internet evidence that she has worked so hard to collect, and though it is eventually ruled admissible, Stabler reiterates that she can no longer work with the police.
Julie becomes a real estate agent and has nightmares about her daughter talking to creeps online. She also has flashbacks of her own abuse. Her husband sees how sad she is, and suggests that she return to the only thing that makes her truly happy: having cybersex with old men while pretending to be fourteen.
She returns to Benson and Stabler with the new evidence she has collected, and begs the detectives to let her work with them again. Without consulting anyone else at the police department, they take her back. Julie then busts a shit ton of pervs, and becomes closer to her formerly surly daughter.
One night, she’s in her favorite chatroom, and she sees MAGICMAN, the creep who tried to bone her daughter! He messages her, but just as she’s about to set up a meeting, the feds storm in and take her laptop. This is the only part of the movie where Julie successfully acts like a teenager. “Just fifteen more minutes!” she wails as they pry the computer out of her hands.
Julie runs to the detectives again, but there’s a problem: Benson and Stabler got married, and Benson got so excited that her ankle broke! How can they bust this monster if their fake teenager is on crutches? No teenager has ever been on crutches! It’ll blow their cover. Obviously, the only solution is for Julie to dress up in her daughter’s clothes and meet the pedophile herself. The detectives put a wire on her so that they can listen to her conversation and arrest Magic Man before he gets too handsy.
According to this movie, cops can just do whatever the fuck they want, without ever filling out paperwork or consulting higher-ups. Unfortunately, their state-of-the-art spying-on-pedophiles technology has one flaw: the wire falls off and breaks if the wearer is slightly bumped by a kid on a skateboard (who is hilariously referred to by Julie as “some guy on wheels”).
Not realizing that the detectives can no longer hear her, Julie follows Magic Man to a super creepy, deserted playground. He gets too close, and Julie starts having flashbacks again. She screams for help, and finally, after a terrifying fifteen seconds, the police rush in to arrest the molester and save Julie.
“You’re a cop?” the shocked pervert asks.
“I’m just a housewife,” replies a smug Julie.
I liked how fast-paced this movie was, and there were some funny moments (like when Kristyn’s poem about a huge zit is read aloud to her entire class by her total cunt of an English teacher). Still, the movie wasn’t good enough to be enjoyable as a real movie, and it wasn’t bad enough to leave me screaming “what the FUCK?” at my computer screen like other Lifetime movies have.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10
Where do I begin? This movie has multiple bad guys, all of whom prey on young girls. The heroine is a housewife who has no skills other than her natural woman’s intuition, yet she still saves the day. The husband doubts his wife, and he is wrong. The teenage daughter thinks her mom is lame, and she is also wrong. The cops get married, fer crissakes. The movie even ends with misleading statistics that will scare you into locking up your daughter and smashing up your computer.
GRAND TOTAL: 30
I hope everything is OK with the Posey family now. That said, I kinda wonder if there’s gonna be a sequel.
The House Next Door: House with an E October 21, 2010Posted by Kate in 30-36, the house next door.
Rusty already wrote about this movie, but he said I could write about it again after I begged him to let me not have watched this in vain. Holy crap. From Hulu’s description of this movie, I was expecting campy horror and lots of ill-advised scenes of Lara Flynn Boyle trying to kiss Zack from Saved by the Bell with her malformed mouth. I got what I anticipated, but I also got super depressing scenes of a mother grieving for her dead son and eventually hanging herself while her husband is upstairs playing tonsil hockey with the neighbor lady.
I’m getting ahead of myself (and I just wanted to use the phrase “tonsil hockey”). The movie starts with Lara Flynn Boyle’s weirdly elderly-sounding voiceover announcing that the house next door is evil or something. Honestly, I couldn’t focus on what she was saying, because her narration was done as if she was doing an impression of herself as a 90 year old. “Maybe it’s like Titanic,” said my boyfriend, before he left the room in disgust.
Anyway, Cole (whose name is later revealed to be either Col or Kohl, in truly the only shocking twist the movie has to offer) and Walker Kennedy are super bummed that someone is building a house next door to them, but they are friendly and go to meet the architect anyway. The architect, who is named Kim because everyone in this movie has a ridiculous name, is excited to finally be building a house. His last project fell through when his client had a stroke, he casually mentions.. Cole/Col/Kohl lets him shower in her house because the water is turned off next door, which leads her husband to make some lame joke about how she totally wants to bone Kim/Zack Morris.
After the extremely ugly house is built, Col goes over to hang out with her new neighbor, Pie, who is expecting her first child with her adoring husband. Pie shows off the new puppy her sweet husband bought her, because housebreaking a puppy is exactly what you want to be doing when you have a newborn. From the second the puppy comes out of his carrier, you know he’s going to die, but it’s surprising how fast it happens. I felt like thirty seconds elapsed between meeting the puppy and seeing it with its face torn off.
Pie and her husband then have a housewarming party, which ends with Walker accusing Col of getting too cozy with the architect and Pie’s loving husband pushing her down the stairs. Pie miscarries, then moves away from the creepy house. Her husband is in jail or something.
Here’s part of the house, by the way. It’s got like seven garages.
About three days later, an adorable middle-aged couple moves in.Col goes over to welcome them, and the lady mentions they have a son named Toby in Iraq. Watching this part, I was thinking, “oh, he’s going to die, just like the puppy.”
I wish that’s what had happened. Instead, at the housewarming party, Toby’s mom, Anita, opens the front door to see her son standing there in his uniform. “Toby’s home!” she shouts with joy.
“Honey,” her husband says, “Toby’s dead, remember?”
Anita screams, and the vision of Toby transforms into the pizza delivery guy, who is taking this way better than you’d expect. It’s a huge bummer.
Shit gets way more devastating when a new TV is delivered, and the only channel that comes in is just video of Toby screaming for help and then dying. Anita just sits in front of the TV and drinks all day in her bathrobe. She doesn’t even open the door to get the mail, so of course Col has to barge in to her living room. It’s the neighborly thing to do.
Col can’t get Anita to stop crying and drinking, so instead of getting help for her, she decides to snoop around upstairs, where she immediately sees her neighbor Virginia sadly ripping the clothes off Anita’s husband.
Oh, did I mention that five minutes earlier, it was loudly pointed out that Virginia has only ever slept with her husband? Virginia cries and looks horrified as Anita’s husband sucks on her neck, and Col stands there and watches for a little bit.
Then they all go downstairs to see that Anita has hanged herself. Virginia threatens to kill Col if she tells anyone about her tearstained affair.
Col tells her husband that she thinks the house is evil, and he tells her she’s just being stereotypically female and Irish(!). Obviously, this means it’s time for Col and Walker to go on a little vacation at their beach house. Oh, and they bring their cat, because cats love to travel.
Walker mentions how happy he is that Col is painting again. Oh, I guess she’s supposed to be an artist who just does interior decorating to pay the bills, but I forgot for most of the movie because she spends most of her time spying on the neighbors.
Of course, when Walker looks at his wife’s painting, he sees that it is just a lousy depiction of the creepy house next door.
When they go back home, Col and Walker are accosted by their redheaded neighbor, who is pissed that they left without telling her. She says she hasn’t heard from Virginia or her husband, and that nobody knows where they went. When Col won’t tell her what happened to Virginia, she flips out and storms off. This whole fight could have been resolved by Col saying that she didn’t know where Virginia went, or that Virginia told her something in confidence, but instead these two are enemies for the rest of the movie. This does nothing to further the plot, and is even more unrealistic than the concept of an evil house.
Kim the architect comes back, and he and Col share a bottle of wine as he tells her a charming story about a photographer blinded by an exploding light. Col tells him that she thinks the house is evil, so Kim reveals that he knows the security codes and they go in to search for the source of the evil or whatever. The evil house makes them super hot for each other.
Walker comes home, see the two wine glasses, and naturally assumes that his wife is over at the house next door. When he sees his wife on top of Kim, he grabs a knife from the kitchen, kicks the architect in the head, and attacks Col. It is insane that Col and Walker fight and she survives. Seriously, you can’t cast Lara Flynn Boyle if you want a realistic fight scene. A strong breeze could knock that chick over. Once outside, the couple realize that all of that infidelity and attempted murder was caused by the house, and Walker finally believes Col. The viewer is left to assume that Kim decides against pressing charges when he regains consciousness.
A preppy couple with a young daughter move into the house next, and while Walker just wants to move away, Col insists on trying to help. She helps by arranging a meeting with the other neighbors so that they can laugh at her when she tells them the house is evil, and by bringing over banana nut bread. It is during the banana nut bread scene that we catch a glimpse of the worst outfit possible.
Here’s another picture, so you can fully understand the awfulness of this ensemble.
Col and Walker invite the new new neighbors over, and Norman, the father of the little girl, turns out to be a total douche. He keeps referring to himself as Norman-Greene-Greene-with-an-E, and he won’t let his daughter leave the table to go throw up. This is a stupid decision, since she just ends up puking on the patio. Rusty mentions in his review that little Belinda pees herself later on, but it was this scene that made me laugh out loud.
I am including this picture because I want to note that Rusty dressed exactly like Norman Greene with an E in high school.
Later that night, Norman berates his wife, Suzannah, for messing up the invitations for their housewarming party, then tells her it’s too late to fix them, and orders her to mail them. She opens a drawer in the kitchen to get stamps.
What, are you surprised that there’s a gun in that drawer? The drawer where she keeps her stamps? The unlocked kitchen drawer, easily accessible to her young daughter? I’m mostly surprised that she has more than one book of stamps in there. These people are crazy rich.
After the party, where Norman insults Suzannah and their neighbors and shouts his own name a few times and Belinda pees on the floor, he gets out his kitchen gun and attempts to teach his wife how to put things in the fridge. Belinda is freaked out and runs next door into the arms of Col. Walker heads out to talk to her parents, but it’s too late: Suzannah has grabbed the gun and shot her husband and herself.
As soon as the blood has been mopped up, architect Kim and his new girlfriend move in. Col tells Kim that it’s him that’s evil, not the house, but he just puts on his sunglasses and goes inside.
So, Col and Walker decide to blow the house up. They go inside and turn on the gas, but then Col is haunted by disturbing visions of herself with Kim. The best is when vision-Kim stops kissing vision-Col just long enough to look at real Col with an expression of hilarious evil.
Real Col and real Kim start kissing, and I’m not sure if Col is kissing him to try to distract him or if the house is making her crazy horny again, but it all works out for the best: Walker comes in, shoots at Kim, and the house blows up.
Cut to Col and Walker on the beach with their new adopted daughter, Belinda, talking about how they murdered Kim. What a happy ending!
Oops, except for the last scene: a couple looking to build a house are shown the plans for the evil house! And they love it! “It’s magical,” the woman says to her husband, “It’s like it’s alive.” Nobody would ever talk about a house like that, especially this blocky monstrosity, but hey, at least the movie’s over.
This movie would have been hilarious and awesomely campy if not for the Anita-and-her-dead-son part. I felt like that was a total bummer. It was not bad enough to be funny, so it was just depressing.
The rest of the movie was better, and I loved how super-obvious the foreshadowing was, and Norman Greene with an E was AMAZING.
HEY! IT’S THAT GUY!: 10
I only watched this because Lara Flynn Boyle was in it, and I spent the next morning in the bathroom mirror trying to move my lips the way she does, and I totally can’t. And I have big lips! How does she do that? I hate everything about her, including but not limited to her politics and the two sets of earrings she alternated wearing throughout the movie and the weird freckles that start halfway down her chest. I know that it makes me a horrible person to judge her based on her looks, and I tell myself that really I just hate her because she’s a Republican, but I know deep down inside that it’s her stupid floppy mouth that makes me hate her.
Also, Zack Morris and the guy from Eureka.
Walker was way too supportive and reasonable for a dude in a Lifetime movie, but ten points just for Norman Greene with an E, plus there was also women’s intuition, men not believing women’s intuition, mentions of an ancient Irish curse, and catty remarks about fertility. Oh! And when Anita’s husband cheats, Walker says that’s “just what men do.”
GRAND TOTAL: 33
This movie is worth it just for everything that happens after the last family moves in.
Visitors Of The Night October 16, 2009Posted by H$ in 30-36, H$, visitors of the night.
FINALLY. No more bashing our brains against the blunt vanilla wafer of this season of Project Runway. It’s movie time.
My friends, this movie was really special. Visitors in the Night is the rare treat that occurs when people who write TV movies try to do something other then stories about eating disorders or disastrous proms. Markie Post is a go-go 90’s lady with a demanding-but-unexplained job, a distant politician ex-husband, and a snarky little brat of a daughter. Of course she’s a brat, she’s Candace Cameron, AKA DJ Tanner. (You’re reading a blog about Lifetime movies, so I know you are delighted by this.) Anyway, her life is tough, and her problems are only compounded by the fact that she has some kind of weird brain problem that makes her go into a trance and flail violently at random times. The triggers for her trauma are bright lights, exploding transistors, and horses.
Fig 1. A Perfectly Normal Reaction to A Horse
She’s hallucinating and blacking out like nobody’s business. Most people would have parked themselves in an MRI machine by now, but maybe the Shoulderpad Lady Office doesn’t offer decent medical. To make matters worse, her daughter is experiencing the pains of adolescent rebellion, completed with a rat-faced grunge-y boyfriend and a need to “explore the absence of color” through dressing like a slutty goth librarian all the time. This family is desperate for a father figure. Their salvation may lie in the super beefed-out arms of the dad from Pet Sematary, (you know you want to click that link) who is constantly haunting the troubled family with the excuse of being a small-town sheriff. But the soil of a lady’s heart is stonier, and Markie Mark has bigger fish to fry.
Maybe the water in this town make you oblivious to obvious things. Not only is Markie unaware of what is almost surely a brain tumor, the whole town is writing off a panopoly of strange phenomenon as teenage stunts. This includes livestock mutilation, crop circles- you know, all that shit you used to do in high school. I always loved to huff glue, listen to Nirvana, and burn huge geometric designs into the soybean fields of my hometown. Candace tags herself a participating punk by scribbling crop circles in her notebook, landing her some serious principal’s office time and a fight with Markie. If only they had something to bond on! Some shared trauma or unbelievable secret, perhaps?
Things come to a head when Markie goes out of town to perform whatever vague business she is responsible for. Candace takes this opportunity to throw a bitchin’ party and invite all of her scummy little friends. The party quickly gets out of hand, by which I mean the music gets slightly louder then it was and someone burns a pizza in the oven. Candace freaks out, announces that the party is over, and storms away with a bag of garbage. Party foul, Candace. Save the hissy-fit until you’re sloshed. Out at the garbage, which for some reason is a half-mile away in a secluded area, Candace hears a noise that freaks out her dog. The picture then abruptly takes us back to Markie, who is giving a presentation on…um, something? Sounds like she’s talking about valves? Anyway, she blacks out and we see that she’s daydreaming about a bunch of flashing lights in her house, and her parents are dead or something, and…I dunno, she looks scared? The flashbacks lack narrative structure, so it’s kind of hard to figure out what’s so damn scary. We can probably assume it’s aliens. Oh, shit, spoiler alert!
As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that Candace’s issues are not the garden variety teenage trauma that one would expect. After the party, she experiences repeated blackouts and even crashes the family car. She also goes all Jello Biafra on her science class and harangues them about the the inevitable effects of suburban atrophy for some reason. There’s a great sequence where she goes to visit her dad at a city council meeting and talks her dad’s staff into using green building materials for a housing development. Apparently, alien-themed traumas make you really annoying and eco-conscious. Markie’s alien-themed daydreams get more creepily detailed and specific, and her erratic behavior begins to worry the townsfolk. The sheriff makes a weird effort at being a daddy figure for the troubled ladies, but considering what happened to this guy’s last family, you can’t blame Markie for taking a pass. Instead she visits a hypnotherapist (?!) to try and get some more information about the bullshit tricks her brain appears to be playing on her.
Now here is where you would expect the hypnotherapist to dig up some long-suppressed memories of something traumatic and terrible that her kid-brain would have rewritten as an alien abduction to successfully ignore. But no! Markie was actually abducted by goddamned aliens! We also learn that the aliens put some weird alien junk in Markie’s womb, making her baby daughter a freako alien baby. Now the aliens are back- and this time, it’s personal.
The aliens are super gross looking, by the way. They’re weird butt-headed hybrids of X-Files-style Greys and Tony Harrison of The Mighty Boosh. Observe:
No wonder they had to abduct Markie Post to get their swerve on. Ew.
Next we suffer through a last minute boring infodump from a “professor” at a local university who happens to specialize in alien abductions for some damn reason. But it’s worth it, because afterwards the movie finally allows the aliens to succeed in kidnapping Candace and revealing their nefarious plot. Apparently, they have been trying to make alien/human hybrid babies, and have a whole litter of them up on the ship. But the babies are tiny little sociopaths that don’t feel love because “they don’t cry”. That isn’t actually why babies cry, but I guess she’s kind of traumatized, so we’ll give her a break. Anyway, Candace gets off the ship and is deposited in her mother’s loving arms. Everyone goes home, everything’s cool-
OH SNAP! THE ALIENS COME BACK AND KIDNAP THEM AGAIN!
Fade to black. No, really, that’s the end.
So, how does this mother rate in the grand scheme of things?
FUCK YEAH. This movie had fucking aliens in it. I don’t feel like I need to say anything else here. ALIENS! Just thinking about it makes me want to give someone a high-five.
One point deducted for the creepy rat-faced boyfriend. I just didn’t like him. If the aliens had stolen him instead we’d be rolling 20s here.
Star Power: 10
No-Brainer thanks to the poor career decisions of Markie Post. Rule of thumb: if you can find their boobs on Google, they’re trashy-famous enough for a 10 on their own. Add in DJ and the gloriously hammy Pet Sematary lead, and it’s a perfect train-wreck of TV movie casting.
I’m going to cut the score down here a little. Rusty may disagree with me, but women’s intuition completely failed to save the day here. A more Lifetime-y approach would have involved Markie figuring out how to stop the aliens by having a passionate heart-to-heart with them about the pressures of being a working mother in today’s fast-paced world. Still, the mother-daughter trauma was the core of the story, so partial credit is due.
35! Not bad, not bad. The score is not really reflective of how amazing the movie is, though. DVR it. Get really drunk. Share it with a loved one. Let us know how it goes.
Too Young to Be A Dad: EDITED! January 1, 2009Posted by H$ in 30-36, H$, too young to be a dad.
So I haven’t updated for a minute. Sorry. Go look at Terry’s blog and learn how to make money off of those loose gold teeth you have laying around. Out of curiosity- does anyone want to see reviews of Army Wives, or would that be biting on TV Without Pity’s style too much?
There is a basic problem with teenagers in the Lifetime universe, and it has to do with sex. I have created a Venn diagram, which is totally scientific and not at all pulled out of my eggnog-padded butt:
All mentally sound post-pubescent adults eventually reach the point where they must reconcile the fact that sex is fun with the fact that sex can make a baby. This is an especially hard jump for young women, who know they’ll probably be extra-screwed should the latter result from the former. Depending on their level of comfort with this discovery, women can either enjoy sex or avoid it completely through satisfying use of Star Trek ‘literotica’. From here most will either develop a healthy respect for condoms or a healthy obsession with the idea that Kirk and Spock are bonin’ like monkeys all the time. Whatever gets you people off is fine with me, nobody’s judging you here. (I find the tension between Scotty and Spock to be way hotter, but that’s just me.) What bothers me is that sexually active people fail to make that same connection for their children. Their children remain flash-frozen at prepubescence in their heads, incapable of enjoying the act that created them unless they are tricked into it by icky little sluts or roofie-pushing thugs. No better example of this exists then “Too Young to Be A Dad“, which was tailor-made to cater to this particular parental neurosis.
The film begins with some kind of fancy ceremony with the word “HONOR” in giant letters behind a group of high school boys in funny robes lighting candles. Are they Eagle Scouts? Skull and Bones inductees? Who fucking knows, but they are way too young to have sex, that’s for sure. Especially too young to have sex is Matt Freeman, the youngest-ever inductee into this clandestine honor society. Matt is played by Paul Dano, AKA Creepy Preacher Boy in They Will Be Blood OR Creepy Nihilist Boy in Little Miss Sunshine, so what the fuck he was doing in this movie I have no idea. From here we pan out to see the lady who is responsible for the type-A personality that has sucked all the fun out of Matt’s life. Weeping in the audience is Suzy Freeman, the pushy stage mom of the Freeman clan. There’s also a distant daddy figure named Dan and a sassy be-pierced Avril Lavigne named Alex.
The first part of the movie is a bigger tease then a slutty teen on prom night: Alex is all eyeliner and rebellion, makin’ out with her sk8r boi till after midnight and saying that she is going to put off college for a year to save up and buy a car. In the age of college tuition being worth more then Faberge eggs, that doesn’t sound like a bad plan to me. However, her mother uses a series of screaming fits to inform her that she is on the Bad News Train to Knocked-Up Junction and her son is the only bright star left in her sad world. No pressure, Matt! I would have liked the movie more if Suzy had realized how sad it was that she had to push her kids into misery in order to vicariously enjoy their triumphs, but the movie isn’t called “Too Crazy to Be a Mom”, so this plot thread is sadly abandoned.
Meanwhile, Matt is enjoying the poon-magnet status that only an early induction into the honors society can provide. He gets acquainted with a hottie named Francesca. Francesca is a rich girl with good manners who aspires to go to medical school, so of course she is a secret nympho. She needs a lot of afterschool homework help, which quickly turns into sloppy makeouts as soon as their parent’s backs are turned. I am sure this is meant as a lesson to parents of nerdy teenage boys everywhere: watch them like hawks, because there is always a traitorous vagina laying in wait like a Punjabi trap just out of their field of vision. Francie and Matt enjoy their boring shirts-on making out for a while, and then it’s revealed that Francie isn’t a virgin. Remember: she had sex, and it didn’t kill her, so I think we all know who the slutty teen here is.
She talks Matt into doing the deed, and here is where the movie gets really strange- they’re making out and giggling, having fun, fade to black. The next shot is them laying next to each other in silence, Matt’s face a picture of bleak horror. Dude looks like he just watched Schindler’s List. Later Francie and Matt talk about their feelings and decide that sex is too traumatic to attempt again. If this was an After-School Special, this is probably where the credits would roll.
Their depressing union has, of course, put a bun in Francie’s oven. Matt’s busy parents, who mostly ignore him to deal with his dramabomb sister, don’t seem like great sources of support. Francesca’s parents are equally useless WASPy nightmares who regularly harass her over her appearance and grades. But what better can you expect from a pair of yuppies who give their daughter a name that would embarrass the Fancy Feast cat? Unfortunately Francesca’s dad catches her throwing up in the bathroom, and the secret is blown. Suzy has a sit down with Juliana and Francesca’s father, whose name I can’t remember, so we’ll call him Mr. Jangles to keep with the cat theme. Jangles is a businesslike cat (a Top Cat, if you will) and wants the whole matter settled. Matt’s family will pay for the incidentals of babyhood, Francie will quietly pop the kid out to be passed on to a waiting home, and everything will keep on rolling as it should.
The only person standing in the way is Matt himself, who is ultra sad that Francesca doesn’t want to drop out of school and raise their bastard love child. In Matt’s school, teen parents have to attend a compulsory baby boot camp until the kid is born. Apparently, the best way to encourage teenage parents to stay in school is to yank them out of it completely so they can spend all day playing house with they babydaddy in the school gym. Suzy throws a complete fucking fit at the idea of Matt leaving real school, but Matt is pretty firm about going to support Francesca. Matt is honestly a stand-up guy, if a complete fucking moron, and a normal parent would probably be proud of their son’s backbone. However, Suzy refuses to have a son that is not in the honor society, so she tells him to go fuck himself and leaves him in the school parking lot.
At this point in the film, Matt becomes an anti-sex evangelist. Anyone who asks him will find out “sex isn’t that great”. Between this and his uncomfortable post-coital squirming, you have to wonder if he and Francesca even had real sex or if it was some creepy fetish thing that screwed him up for life. Maybe Francesca is hiding a Quaato under her American Eagle hoodie, I dunno. On the other hand, he is WAY INTO BABIES. He loves his school sponsored pretend-baby time, and he even gets an afterschool job to help pay for Francesca’s medical bills. This would all be as endearing as the film seems to think it is if it were not for the fact that FRANCESCA DOES NOT WANT TO KEEP THIS BABY AT ALL. Her being forced to play along with the baby-camp farce actually seems a little sadistic when you consider that it will all culminate in her giving the child up and probably never seeing it again.
This is getting too long, so let’s sum it up. Suzy learns to stop being a psycho bitch and loves her son again, just in time for the baby to be born. They go to the hospital and Matt bum-rushes the nursery, falling crazy in love with his baby on the spot. His mom decides that their family should raise the baby together, giving the metaphorical finger to Francesca’s whole family in the process. The Freemans build a nursery, Matt cuddles his new son while playing some Everquest, and an offscreen Francesca must somehow make peace with the fact that her child is being raised by the awkward schlub she tapped for help with her algebra homework. The end!
Rusty pointed out to me that the awesomeness scale is out of 20. This is easy to forget, as most of the films on this blog don’t break the single digits. Anyway, this movie was kind of fantastic! I like this movie because it helps illustrate my point about the slutty teens. Also, the sex-hating-baby-loving boy wonder is hilarious to me.
Star Power: 9
I like to think that while they were shooting There Will Be Blood, Daniel Day-Lewis would whisper lines from this movie into Dano’s ear to make his crying and flailing more realistic. You know he’s a dick like that.
This movie is the absolute wet dream of the Lifetime mother: She who cannot believe her son would ever enjoy sex, and is sure that his motive in everything is as pure and good as Jesus Christ himself. If you have ever dated a mama’s boy, this movie will give you invaluable perspective as to why she gives you the stinkeye every Christmas and makes you sleep in separate rooms.
So that’s a 31. Not bad. If you’re the kind of person who ironically enjoys Blossom reruns you will enjoy this movie, as you enjoy so many things you probably shouldn’t. Now I am going to go do something fun for New Years, or I will have to kill myself.