The Model Murders – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: a young woman, desperate to become a model, replies to an advert that seems too good to be true. She ends up in a remote location locked up and forced to perform live pornographic shows. Her mother and boyfriend search for her desperately. 

Is it any good?: nope. Nah. Not at all. The Model Murders or A Model Kidnapping is so much hokum. Apparently, it is based on a true story – it is probably pulled from several similar stories – it is neither well-told nor engaging. The acting is poor, the script is poor, leaving the music to do all the heavy lifting, trying to inject some atmosphere into proceedings. The Model Murders is trash. 

Spoiler Territory: A woman run through the woods, trying to escape an unseen pursuer. He catches up to her and as she begs for her life, plunges a syringe into her neck. 

Aspiring model, Grace (Lucy Loken), is having photographs taken. The photographer is not happy with what she is giving him. She pouts a bit and moves her shoulders. She is quite rubbish at modelling. 

He tells her she does not have what it takes to become a model. She is too vanilla. She needs to be more dangerous. She asks him what does she need to do. He tells her she needs to show more skin. Take risks. Grace, always willing to take direction, removes her jacket. Ooh, bare shoulders! The photographer seems happy. 

He starts snapping away again. She is no better than before but he seems happier. He asks her to take her top off. Grace is aghast. Take her top off? The pervy photographer tells her he could make her rich. She is not interested in anything pornographic. She leaves. 

Later, Grace is discussing her distressing day, with her boyfriend, Matt (Michael Uribe). He shows some sympathy but then tells her he cannot understand her desperation to become a model. 

Especially as she is such a talented artist. Whether that is with paint and a canvas or singing is not particularly clear. Whichever it is, she should go to college and pursue it, Matt thinks. 

Grace tells him that she felt invisible as a girl and aspired to the girls she saw in fashion magazines. Grace is obviously not a girl who watches the news. Modelling as a career does not have the best reputation. Still, it’s what she wants. Matt, the dumb hunk, says okay and tell her he loves her. 

Grace is all about the model life and does not respond in kind. She is not ready to voice her feelings for him. Grace’s mother, Megan (Kiki Harris), works at the diner. 

Grace asks her if she is ready to leave. She tells her daughter she still has an hour to work. She asks Grace how the shoot went. Grace lies, telling her it went well.

Mother Megan, quite rightly, has little faith in her daughter making it in fashion modelling and tells her she should enrol in college. They get into disagreement and Grace tells her mother that she will see her at home. At home, Grace immediately starts scouring the internet for more modelling gigs. There is no helping stupid. 

After reading through her umpteenth rejection, she sees an advert. A photographer is looking for models and the job offers free accommodation. She thinks it is too good to be true but applies for it anyway. The next morning the photographer calls her. 

Grace is no mug and asks the photographer to send her examples of his work. She doesn’t look him up in this age of the internet but why would she?

Anyhoo, he sends through the photos and Grace is thrilled. She gets on a train and heads to Miami. She leaves her mom a letter. Very old school. She texts Matt from the train. 

In Miami, she is picked up at the station by Nicole (Katherine Diaz). Nicole drives her to the studio, about an hour outside of Miami. Grace asks where the models’ house is. Nicole tells her it’s downtown. The photographer, Hunter Kelly (Wes McGee) – why he gets a first and last name is anybody’s guess – meets Grace at the car. 

He is cordial and friendly but is suddenly brusque to Nicole when he spots a nut-based bar in her pocket. He reminds her that he has one rule – not exactly true – but he repeats it to her. Nicole apologises and throws the bar away. He tells Grace that he has a deathly nut allergy. Shouldn’t have told her that! 

He continues to entertain Grace, preparing her dinner. He sends Nicole out to get some more wine, telling Grace that she will drive her to the models’ house when she returns. 

The evening continues and Nicole does not return. Hunter tells Grace that she texted him to tell him that she was feeling unwell and has gone home. Alarm bells? Nothing? Okay…

Hunter tells Grace that she can stay in his guesthouse. No alarm bells there. Grace reluctantly concedes that she can stay for a night. Hunter takes her to the guesthouse and shows her the bedroom, with en-suite bathroom no less. 

He leaves her to settle in, closing the bedroom door as he leaves. Grace realises that she does not have her luggage snd goes to leave the room. The door is locked. She goes to the window, trying to get Hunter’s attention but he cannot hear her and does not look back. 

She picks up the phone and calls the emergency services. Hunter answers. He tells her she is going to be there for a while. Bwah hahaha! Bwah hahaha! He didn’t laugh but he should have. 

Back home, mother Megan and Matt are beginning to get worried, not having heard from her at all. The next day, Hunter brings the trapped Grace breakfast. Unsurprisingly, she does not want it. 

She just wants to go home. She even promises not to tell anyone that he kidnapped her. Does that ever work? Well, it doesn’t work this time either and crazy Hunter tells her they are going to make films. 

Ever the prude, Grace says she would rather die than do porn. Hunter shows her a live stream of her mother at work. He asks for her phone’s password. Grace is defiant once again until Hunter reminds her that he can get to her mother. Short memory that girl. Like a goldfish. Hunter tells her that they are doing a live stream in fifteen minutes. 

He tells her to put on a cheerleader uniform for the show. He then replies to a text from her mother and one from Matt. He signs Matt’s text off with “I love you.” Rookie mistake. 

Matt is perplexed and mystified by the text. Back in Miami, Hunter directs Grace by video as she does the least provocative live stream in human history. 

She tries to scream for help at the watching audience but Hunter cuts the stream. He tells her the stream runs on a delay. Hunter comes and tells her he has a few rules – I knew there were more! – one of the rules is no screaming for help during the live stream. That one could not have come as much of a surprise to her. 

Mother Megan tries to call her and gets her voicemail. Hunter returns to the room with a tray and some booze. The scared cheerleader was a hit. He wants to celebrate. She throws one of the glasses at the wall. Hunter shows her a picture of the model he killed before. If Grace had not realised she was in a bad situation, she knew it now! 

Outside of the bedroom prison, Nicole is pouting. She thought Hunter was going to spend less time with this model. Hunter tries to make it up to her, getting amorous. 

Their potential bedroom antics are abruptly halted when he calls her Grace. The next day, Grace is dancing in front of the camera, better than the first performance – not hard – but still pretty terrible. 

Grace is doing multiple shows, in various outfits, every day. She is still as sexy as a dancing mailbox. Hunter seems happy. As he and Nicole watch her, he tells Nicole he is going for a run. So not that happy then. Jealous Nicole takes the opportunity of his absence to confront Grace and tell her to stop leading Hunter on. 

Grace thinks Nicole has come to help her escape but realises she is just dumb and in love. She kicks Nicole in the stomach and tries to run. The two women end up scuffling. Before Grace can escape, Hunter returns from his run, around his house I assume because he wasn’t even gone for ten minutes. 

Mother Megan and Matt go to see the least helpful detective in the history of detectives, Hogan (Gary Bristow), who dismisses their worries as being unfounded. There is no evidence, so he will be of no help, so get out! 

Mother Megan vows to go to every photographic studio in Miami to find her daughter. That’s love right there. And a little misguided. 

Back at the prison house, Hunter gives Grace a, frankly, ugly negligé to put on. As he admires her in the thing, Nicole watches the whole scene via the video link. 

She’s a redhead. Hunter is really making trouble for himself. The next day, Grace asks Hunter if he would take her out as she needs art supplies. No idea what for. 

Nicole asks Hunter if he wants to go out, as they have a few hours before the live stream. He sends her to go and get the art supplies. Hunter then decides to take Grace out. 

In a clothing store, Grace tries to get the sales assistant’s attention and then writes help in blood on the mirror in the changing room. Hunter realises something is wrong and takes her out of the shop. 

Grace steals a bracelet as they leave. The assistant runs after them but backs down when Hunter faces her. Back at the prison house, a furious Hunter puts her back into the bedroom. 

Hunter leaves her in the bedroom. She has to be punished. Nicole comes into the bedroom in a dominatrix outfit. She proceeds to whip Grace. 

Matt’s roommate, Greg (Chris Kelly), comes and shows him the live stream of Grace getting whipped. Matt asks Greg, who is a computer major – obvs -, if he can track the IP address. Hunter tells Nicole to stop whipping Grace. 

Matt texts her asking about the video. Hunter makes her call him to try and pacify him. She ends the call telling him she loves him. Matt, who was already alarmed at seeing his girlfriend getting whipped, is more alarmed by the pronouncement of love. Something is definitely wrong. 

Nicole, who was snooping through Hunter’s computer, confronts him about the previous models they had found, realising that he had killed them. Hunter tells her she cannot say anything as she is his accomplice and a murderer herself. Okay then. 

Mother Megan, who had been traipsing from one photographic studio to another, goes to see the world’s worst detective. Hogan points out to her that she told him that the boyfriend had received a phone call. 

Matt looks for similar adverts to the one that attracted Grace. Grace tells Hunter that she will do whatever he wants her to do. He wants her to do the art project. Full nude. Oooh. 

Back with who-cares? Hogan and he is telling mother Megan that the last ping her daughter’s phone got was two weeks before. 

In an age when teenagers are glued to their phones, he does not think this is that out of place. Matt arrives at the police station just as who-gives-a -sh*t Hogan tells them he cannot devote any more manpower to finding Grace. What he actually meant was any, as he had not tried to find her anyway. 

Grace does her paint show. Hunter directs her to paint her breast. Grace breaks down. Never thought paint could cause trauma. As night falls, Grace, who it turns out had a cunning plan, uses her high school chemistry knowledge to start a fire and set the fire alarm off. Could have just pressed the test button…

Hunter comes to check what is going on. Grace stabs him with a stiletto in the eye and escapes the guesthouse. She calls the police but Hunter, barely slowed by having a stiletto punched into his face, cuts the line. He drags her back to the guesthouse. A policeman, Mark Harding (Seth Goodfellow) – another character given a first and surname. They don’t even use his name! – turns up at the house. 

He quickly checks around the property but does not see Grace. He gets called to a serious traffic accident. Grace bangs on the window to no avail. The policeman drives off. 

The next day, Greg has found a similar advert to the one that lured Grace. They email Hunter and send him a picture of a hot girl. Back at the prison house, Hunter is digging a shallow grave in the grounds. 

Returning to the house, he sees the email and replies, inviting the girl to a photoshoot. He tells Nicole to go and meet her at the train station. 

Nicole goes to the station and – horror of horrors – there is no girl. Matt is there though. Yes, he is! He sees Nicole and realises she is there to meet their fictitious girl. 

Nicole calls Hunter and tells him she is not there. She heads back to the house. Matt follows her. He calls mother Megan and tells her he is going to rescue Grace. Yey! He does not tell her where he is. Hunter tells Grace that he has dug her grave. He decides, at that moment, to make it a snuff film. Nicole returns. Matt sees the house. 

As night falls, Matt sneaks up to the house. Inside the house, Nicole greets Hunters triumphant news that he is going to kill Grace online with the incredulity it deserves. Matt finds the guesthouse but Hunter sees him and hits him with a spade. He ties him up and plans to have Grace dance in front of him. 

He tells Grace to go and get dressed for her incapacitated boyfriend. He pushes her into the closest. Grace eats a nut bar and comes back out dressed in a negligé. She kisses Hunter. He begins to have an allergic reaction, gagging and choking as his allergy kicks in. Grace unties Matt and they run. 

Hunter staggers back to the main house and begs for his Epipen. Nicole throws it into the waste disposal. She grabs a kitchen knife and Hunter wrestles with her. She ends up getting stabbed. Matt has lost his car keys so Grace goes back to the house to get the keys to Hunter’s car. Hunter dies on the front porch. 

A year later, Grace’s life is different. She is an award-winning designer and mother Megan is studying law. Matt is still around as well and she loves him and tells him so. The end. 

Final thoughts: The Model Murders is utter bollocks. It is only ninety minutes long but feels longer. The story is so lazy that to say it is based on a true story is an insult to cop-outs. 

The premise is a nice simple one; aspiring model gets kidnapped and coerced into live porn. Unfortunately, it is executed so badly and with such little flair that one just does not care what happens to anybody in the film. 

Lucy Loken, who appeared in the equally awful My Teacher, My Obsession, is just as underwhelming in this film. Written by Andrea Canning and Lynn Keller and directed by Damián Romay, there is nothing to recommend about this film. 

The film is so bad that the IMDB synopsis of it is completely wrong, making it sound like a more interesting film than it actually is. It is not. Avoid.

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