I Am Vengeance: Retaliation – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: an ex-special forces soldier is recruited to track down a former colleague turned rogue who the government believed to be dead. Initially, the mission goes smoothly but the ex-soldier and his small team soon find themselves fighting for their lives against multiple forces. 

Is it any good?: in a word, no. Put it this way, Vinnie Jones – ex-footballer and, mostly laughable, thespian, – though he was good in Guy Richie’s Snatch – is the best actor in the film. Vinnie Jones. VINNIE JONES. This film is all most Expo level awful. Almost. It is definitely on par with that turd in terms of acting and execution. With better actors and a better script, this could have been a great spoof.

Unfortunately, the script is woeful and all the actors are obviously martial artists or stunt people. 

I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is watchable for the fight scenes and the truly laugh-out-loud script and story. Katrina Durden is worth watching for as well.

Spoiler territory: John Gold (Stu Bennett) walks into a nightclub and beats up a couple of security staff. The barman, who for some reason only known to himself, walks over to Gold brandishing a shotgun. He is promptly disarmed by Gold. Three ne’er do wells watch the scene unfold – they are sitting in a booth, so obviously they are who he has come for – they all stand up and approach the now armed Gold. 

Not the wisest individuals ever to have walked the earth, they try each try to shoot him and are sent to their maker one by one. One of them does manage to put up a bit of a fight, even though he has just been shot but promptly gets his neck snapped. 

Outside the nightclub, Frost (Mark Griffin) is waiting. He has come to recruit Gold to track down dangerous former ex-special forces soldier gone rogue, Teague (Vinnie Jones). Gold, unsurprisingly, has a personal grievance against Teague but Frost wants him brought in alive to face justice. Of course he does. 

Gold thought Teague was dead but apparently, he is alive and he is a bad man. Obvs. Frost tells him if he does this job his name will be cleared and he will get his life back. Not that he was exactly hard to find so exactly what life he is supposedly getting back is anybody’s guess. Anyhoo, with the chance to regain his…freedom, Gold agrees to do the mission. 

Gold goes and meets his team and is briefed on the mission by Commander Grayson (David Schaal), a man who looks as though the closest he has been to military action is viewing it on television. He tells the gathered about the target and how dangerous he is plus all the bad things he has done. He is a bad, bad man. 

Gold is assigned Lynch (Phoebe Robinson-Galvin) and Shapiro (Sam Benjamin) as his team. Teague heads to his hideout because he lives there and it is a good place for all the battles to happen and it makes him easier to find. Gold and his team find the not-hiding-at-all Teague’s lair. They quickly dispatch the two hapless guards outside and go inside. 

After smashing in on Teague and his heavily armed henchmen, there is a brief standoff before a shootout ensues. With nine people letting lead fly in a tiny warehouse, they all prove to be terrible aims and no one is hit before taking cover behind various boxes and trunks. 

Teague sends his henchmen out from their hiding places to try and subdue or kill Gold and his team. His thugs are quickly killed by team Gold and Teague is captured but not before a brief bout of fisticuffs with old enemy Gold. 

Gold and the team take Teague to their van, ready to take him to prison. As they are about to get into the van, a masked figure tries to kill Teague. Even with a scope, the shooter does not even wing him, continuing to shoot at the bulletproof van. Lynch takes the wheel and they drive off. The van, not being a vehicle built for speed, is pursued by an SUV driven by the masked assailant. 

Lynch, in a genius move, decides to leave the road and drive into a junkyard. She meets a dead end. The masked assailant comes up behind them, gets out of her vehicle and shoots at the van with a rocket launcher. The rocket launcher has the desired effect, blowing the doors open. 

The rattled team inside the van, see a nearby warehouse. Gold tells the others to take Teague to the warehouse. He will draw their assailant away. Gold gets out of the van. The assailant, in keeping with marksman standards set in the film, is unable to shoot him with a submachine gun. Lynch and Shapiro take Teague to the warehouse. 

The assailant goes after Gold. He ends up disarming her and they fight. Gold is a big guy, six-foot-six and not at all a beanpole, so at least one hundred and twenty kilos, about two and fifty pounds. The assailant is a woman. She is fit and a superb martial artist. She is tallish at five-seven but probably weighs less than sixty-five kilos, one hundred and thirty pounds. 

Gold, unsurprisingly, throws her around like a rag doll. She still gets in a good few kicks and punches but, truthfully, one punch from a man his size would probably concuss her. Anyhoo, they trade blows for a bit but are interrupted by more of Teague’s goons who have been tracking him to rescue him.

How they knew he had been captured is anyone’s guess. The goons train their automatic weapons on Gold and the assailant. They open fire. Not one bullet hits its intended target as Gold and the assailant run off in different directions. 

Gold contacts Frost to tell him about the situation. Frost decides to bring the rest of the team to help out Gold because I assume he doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun. Gold regroups with Lynch, Shapiro and their captive in a small room. Teague’s goons find them and blow the door off. The explosion disorientates everyone in the room except for Teague. Maybe because he was wearing handcuffs? 

Teague leaves with his girlfriend, Pearl (Jessica-Jane Stafford). He tells his main henchman, Renner (Bentley Kalu), to watch Gold and his team. As soon as Teague has left, Renner challenges the legendary Gold to come and take out his group of five next door. Renner and his guys go next door. Gold tells Lynch to go and get Teague. He will take care of Renner and the other goons. Shapiro is laying on the floor still reeling from the effects of the explosion. The wuss. 

Gold goes to fight the goons armed with an extendable baton. They all have semi-automatic submachine guns. Luckily, Renner does the villain thing of wanting to talk a good fight and Gold throw the baton at his head and starts beating on the rest. No shots get fired. 

Lynch catches up with Teague and Pearl. Kendrick (Laurent Plancel), another henchman, turns to confront Lynch. The two fight. Elsewhere, Gold is beating on the henchmen but gets blindsided and knocked to the ground. Renner pulls a knife.

Back outside, Lynch, another phenomenal martial artist, meets her match in the equally proficient Kendrick and takes a bit of a pounding. As he is about to beat on her some more, the assailant turns up and kills him. 

The assailant reveals herself. She is Jen Quaid (Katrina Durden) and she has a personal vendetta against Teague because he killed her father. Lynch tries to persuade her that they need to take Teague to face justice. Quaid does not agree. 

Lynch, who is obviously suffering from a concussion or extreme cockiness, decides to fight with Quaid. She gets her second ass whooping in as many minutes and is only saved from a more savage beating by Teague bashing Quaid with a brick. Teague runs into another building. The terminator like Quaid shrugs off her concussion and goes after him. She head-butts unconscious a momentarily feisty Pearl who tries to defend Teague. 

Upstairs in the warehouse, Teague is hiding in, Quaid confronts him. T-800 Quaid slaps Teague about a bit but is interrupted by the plucky but definitely concussed Lynch. Teague tries to attack Quaid from behind and gets kicked out of some first floor doors for his troubles.

Never-say-die Lynch gets into another fight with T-800 Quaid and is just about to get beaten again when Gold, who walks past a prone Teague outside the warehouse, stops her and throws her into a corner. 

Gold looks down to see Teague making his escape once again. No idea what has happened to Pearl. Gold goes after Teague leaving Lynch with a restrained Quaid. Teague contacts Renner and tells him to come and pick him up. Renner gathers together the goons, Gunnar (Joe Egan) and Price (Greg Burridge) who Gold left alive. Gold catches up with Teague. They fight and reminisce between punches. Lynch leaves Quaid to go after Gold. Quaid promptly escapes her, frankly, pathetic bonds. 

Lynch stops Gold killing Teague. Quaid encounters Frost and the rest of the backup team. They want to arrest her. She flash smoke bombs them and goes back into the warehouse. Gold and Lynch head with Teague towards the airstrip. 

Frost and the team go int to the warehouse to try and retrieve Quaid. It does not go well. After smacking up one soldier, she puts a sleep hold on Shapiro and steals his clothing. Using a gas mask as a disguise – brilliant! – she leaves the warehouse and steals one of the team vehicles. 

Gold, Lynch and Teague find a car and Lynch hot wires it. Yes she does. Renner, sitting in a parked car with the goons and Pearl, who has magically reappeared, tells Price to take the next left. I always thought that was a command you gave whilst the car was in motion, but what do I know? 

As Gold, Lynch and Teague potter along, Price crashes into them. The car ends up on its roof. Teague, once again, is unaffected by the impact to the vehicle he is in and easily extricates himself from the car. Lynch and Gold struggle, trapped in the flipped car. Gold calls after Teague as Pearl helpfully tells Teague to hurry up because they have to leave. 

Lynch and Gold stop messing about and get out of the car. Renner takes a gun off of Price and goes to kill them. His aim remains as awful as ever. Teague tells him to go and kill them. It’s as though Renner was not trying to kill them before. T-800 Quaid arrives on a motorbike – maybe she’s a T-1000 hence the motorbike appearing from nowhere. She starts shooting. Badly. 

As they are both terrible shots, Renner and Quaid decide to go old fashioned and fight sans firearms. Renner is, again, a big fella and not much of a gentleman. Quaid, who is uncommonly stubborn and did not learn anything from fighting Gold, takes a beating and has to be rescued by Gold. 

Teague leaves a perfectly good motor vehicle and all of his henchmen and girlfriend and tries to run, on foot. Gold grabs Quaid’s motorbike and catches up to Teague. He calls Lynch, who has been picked up by Frost and the rest of the backup team, and tells her that he is taking Teague to the airstrip. 

Renner, Gunnar and Price get back into the car with Pearl. Quaid has disappeared. She probably is a T-100. Gold gets to the airstrip with Teague but is caught by Gunnar, Renner, Price and Pearl. As Teague is about to execute Gold, Quaid appears and distracts them by blowing up the plane they were planning on escaping in. Teague runs off with Pearl and his goons scatter. Another gunfight. Everyone remains a terrible shot. 

Outside, Frost has arrived with Lynch, Shapiro and the rest of the team. He tells Stiles (Jennifer Lee Moon) to take point. She must have pissed off the director because she is about the only person who gets killed by a bullet shot from more than a foot away, quickly being dispatched by Price, who scurries into the aircraft hangar. 

Frost and the rest do not even try to find cover, confident that no one in the film can be on target twice. In the hangar, Gold and Quaid are running low on ammunition and Teague’s goons converge on them. Frost and the team burst in shooting. Quaid gets in a fistfight with Teague and is nearly killed again but Gold saves her. There’s definitely a pattern there…

Shapiro and Frost fight Gunnar. Shapiro breaks his neck. Teague and Gold fight. Price fights Kelso (Jean-Paul Ly). Renner faces off against both Lynch and Quaid. Kelso hands out a whooping to Price. The ladies take down Renner. Gold and Teague continue to fight but Gold overpowers him. He gives Quaid the opportunity of killing him but she does not take it. 

Pearl tries to escape and is caught by Kelso and Shapiro. Teague gets arrested and warns Gold that it’s not over – wahoo! Another sequel! – Quaid tells Gold she might change her mind and kill Teague at a later date. Frost tells Gold he is a free man, even though he was not incarcerated. The end. 

Final thoughts: Even though I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is badly written and the acting is wooden in the extreme, it is an enjoyable action romp and a brilliant stunt person showcase. Written and directed by Ross Boyask, I Am Vengeance: Retaliation is so much hokum. It is well lensed and edited – Boyask is also on editing duty – and blazes through its eighty-two minutes runtime. 

This film is laugh-out-loud for the wrong reasons, mostly the very bad script and Leslie Nielsen-esque shootout scenes. The use of the warehouse/hangar set, though inspired, gets repetitive and slows down the story.

Jones’ Teague seems to spend most of the film running in circles or playing ‘chase me’. With such an underwritten story it was a good thing that the fight scenes worked so well. As I mentioned earlier, it is obvious watching the film that the majority of the performers are martial artists or stunt people. A quick peruse of their IMDB pages confirms this.

Only Durden’s Quaid is moderately well served in the film, with her character actually having some true motivation to go after Teague. Everyone else seems to do it because that’s the job. Kalu’s Renner is entertaining and, given the minimal amount she was required to do, Stafford’s Pearl is not bad. 

Though it is Bennett’s film, the star of the film is Durden. She is easily the best thing in the film and in all of the best fight scenes. Admittedly, with Jones’ playing the primary antagonist, Bennett’s fight scenes could not be as well-choreographed as Durden’s, which were mostly with other stunt performers. 

If you enjoy good fight scenes and don’t mind bad acting, you might enjoy I Am Vengeance: Retaliation. It is a poor man’s Jack Reacher, made on a fraction of the budget of the Cruise starrer but it is not the worst way to waste eighty-two minutes. 

Hidden In Plain Sight – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: A woman fakes her death to get away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. She moves to a small town with her young son in an attempt to disappear. Her ex-boyfriend believes she is still alive and searches for her.

Is it any good?: Hidden In Plain Sight is made-for-television nonsense and Sleeping With The Enemy lite. The acting is uneven, the script plodding and dull and the music is louder than the dialogue much of the time. Told with intermittent flashbacks, Hidden In Plain Sight is a drag of a film and a chore to watch whilst one struggles to hear the dialogue.

Spoiler territory: Katie (Victoria Barabas) is frightened, running through the woods. She is being chased by Nick (Gino Anthony Pesi). Katie is carrying an axe. Nick is close and Katie trips – of course, she does – and drops the axe. Nick gratefully picks up the axe. Katie cowers as Nick swings the axe.

A week earlier, Katie, who has changed her name to Anna, is working in a restaurant/eatery as a waitress. Her shift is about to end and she is chatting with her friend, Chloe (Jessica Meraz), who works with her. Looking forward to leaving, Anna’s joy is short-lived as a handsome stranger comes into the restaurant and sits down.

Anna approaches him, handing him a menu. The man, Lucas (Jake Allyn), tells her he recognises her from the gym. Anna, not wanting to engage in small talk, shut him down. Undeterred, Lucas asks her out because…it’s in the script. She turns him down. Surprise.

Later, Anna is out with Chloe, Chloe’s boyfriend, Leon (Jerod Meagher), Leon’s daughter, Kayla – not good enough for a credit -, and her son, Danny (Jack Fisher). They are all at the bowling alley. As Leon and the kids’ bowl, the two women ignore the Bechdel test with Chloe asking about Lucas and why Anna didn’t drop her panties for him as he was cute.

Anna points out that Danny is her priority. Chloe asks if she even wants a boyfriend as though it was the most important thing in life. What about sex? Anna tells her that perhaps she should go out with him. Chloe points out she has a boyfriend.

The next day, as Anna is preparing for work and going to drop Danny to school, she finds the boy a little melancholy. Kayla thought it strange that Danny didn’t have a father. His mother works at a restaurant, so he is not homeschooled. Had he not noticed that most of the other kids at school had fathers? Anyhoo, dopey Danny laments about this to his mother.

Anna tells him that his father is in the military and that he is on a secret mission which is why he never calls. Why she didn’t just tell him he was dead was anybody’s guess but she goes with the ‘secret agent’ story. She tells dimwitted Danny that she has a complex relationship with his father. He asks her if she misses him. She tells him no but she misses the life she had before she met him. That life was also pre-dummy Danny, so how to lowkey destroy your child psychologically.

Eight years earlier, pre-Anna is Katie and working in at an art gallery. She is still serving but has a bad fringe, a nice dress and better make-up. She puts one glass of champagne on a tray and is instantly attracted by the back of a man’s head across the room. It is Nick. He is standing looking at an abstract painting. He notices her and gives her an ‘approach me’ stare. It works because she immediately makes a beeline for him with the singular flute of champagne.

Katie asks him if he likes the painting. He does. She explains that she is only an assistant but she can introduce him to the gallery owner. He tells her that he would like her opinion on the painting. She tells him about the artist’s journey and how it is inspirational. Nick doesn’t care. He’s just being smooth. He asks for her help in picking a painting.

He buys a painting, on Katie’s advice. Which she brings out to him. She asks him where he plans to hang it. He tells her that he needs help with that as well and that gentleman is how you get a lady to come back to yours.

Back in Anna land, she drops Danny the dunce at school and gives her mother, Evelyn (Deborah Van Valkenburgh) a call. Evelyn notes that she has changed her number again. Anna says she is just being careful. Evelyn asks how Danny the dolt is, Anna mentions that he asked about his father. She tells her that she told him he was in the military. Evelyn warns that he will figure out that she is lying. She obviously has never met the genius that is Danny.

Evelyn asks when she is going to meet Danny – told you she hadn’t met him – Anna says she does not know. She has sent her a package with a new photo of dung-brain Danny. Evelyn goes to the post office box to pick up the package. She is seen by Nick who follows her. When she stops at a coffee shop, Nick surprises her by paying for her coffee.

The two talk about Katie/Anna. Nick apologises for not attending her memorial. He tells her he is engaged to be married but sometimes has a fantasy that Katie/Anna was still alive and she faked her death because she was such a clever woman. These people’s notion of cleverness is very narrow. Evelyn leaves the coffee shop. Nick scowls because he is the bad guy.

At work, Leon comes to see Chloe. Anna gets a call from her mother. Evelyn chats a lot of bollocks about missing her and wanting to drive down to see her. She casually mentions she ran into Nick. She thinks he has changed. The fact that her daughter felt the need to fake her death and change her identity and use burner phones completely forgotten.

Anna, not quite as dumb as her mother and child, wants to know what he said. Evelyn tells her that he is engaged to be married and seems changed. Anna does not buy it. She is sure that Nick must have followed her. She tells her that is why she never gave her her address – she knows her mother is as stupid as her son – it was also why she drove to the adjacent town to post her packages.

Anna remembers back when she was Katie, she was out to dinner with Nick. He always paid for the dinner with large bills, something she found amusing – I suppose different people get their giggles in different ways. She tells him she is not used to the high life. She asks him what he does for a living. He tells her he gives loans to people who get rejected by banks. A loan shark? No, it’s connected to real estate.

That’s good enough for bad fringe Katie. Nick changes the subject. He has got her a gift. He gives her a pair of diamond earrings. Katie is overwhelmed by the gift. It is too expensive. She gives them back to him. How rude! Katie feels the gift would make her somewhat obligated to him. She is only in her mid-twenties – hahahahahaha – and still wants to figure her life out.

Back at Nick’s place, they make love and Katie falls asleep. Nick is in the bathroom when a masked man (Rocky Abou-Sakher) comes and attacks Katie in the bed. He wants money. She screams for Nick. He comes and tackles the intruder, overwhelming him and strangling him with the cord of a hairdryer. Katie wants to call the police. Nick tells her not to.

Katie wants to know why she cannot call the police. Nick tells her he does not want to go back to prison. He tells her to get dressed and leave. He warns her not to tell anybody about what happened.

Nick shows up at Evelyn’s house. He sees a picture of Danny on Evelyn’s fridge. She tries to tell him that it is her godson. Nick is not a moron and does not believe her. The boy reminds him of himself as a boy. He asks Evelyn where his son is. She feigns ignorance even though she has already told him the boy’s name and age. Nick, proving what a cad he is, grabs her arm, looming over her.

Evelyn folds like a cheap deckchair vindicating her daughter’s decision not to trust her with her address and gives up the fact that she is somewhere up north. Nick takes the envelope with the photos.

At the restaurant, Lucas has returned, not at all deterred by his first encounter with Anna, to ask her out. Chloe, who is team Lucas even though she barely knows the man, volunteers to babysit the chosen child Danny, so as Lucas can go out Anna. A happy Anna leaves work to go and pick up Danny, the best kid ever, from school. She gets a call from her mother. She was right, Nick was following her.

She tells Anna that he took the envelope so knows the general area she lives in. Remembering another conversation when she was Katie, she had been confronted by Nick after ghosting him after the intruder incident. She does not want to see him anymore. He lied to her – he didn’t but okay – is he a gangster? She tells him they should not see one another anymore. Nick does not accept that.

Katie, who before her name change and fringe removal showed all the intelligence of a mop, threatens to go to the police. Nick tells her that he will destroy her life if she does and shows her a picture of her mother to prove it.

Back in the present, the wise one Danny has just got into the car. Anna asks him if he thinks he would like to move again. He immediately throws a strop. He won at dodgeball for the first time in his eight years on the planet and now she wants to move?! No. Back at home, Chloe turns up just after they get in.

Anna does not want to go out anymore and tells Chloe about her bad relationship with Nick. Chloe persuades her to go on the date with Lucas because – and he really should be paying her some sort of a commission – he is a good guy. She goes on the date. The date goes well even though Anna is evasive about lightbulb Danny’s father.

Do-it-all Danny is telling Chloe that he wants to meet his father. She tells him she never met hers until she was a teenager. A man is sneaking around outside the house. Chloe sends Danny do-good to his room and goes and investigates, kitchen knife at the ready. It turns out to be Leon. He had come to see her because she had not been returning his calls. He apologises for his flirtatiousness.

Later, Anna returns home. She and Chloe discuss how Anna will have to tell the later focused intellect that is Danny about what is going on. Chloe leaves and Anna goes to look in on her sleeping son. She remembers her distress at learning that she was pregnant. She disclosed her unwanted pregnancy news to Grace (Cherion Drakes), who worked at the gallery with her. She did not know what she was going to do to keep the news from Nick.

Grace tells her that she can get a new identity from Sergey (Bogdan Yesinski). Why Sergey would have told that he had a false identity is anyone’s guess but she tells Katie. Katie goes to see Sergey, a very gruff and taciturn Russian who seems to use watchmaking tools to forge documents. He needs her new name. Under duress, she comes up with the imaginative Anna Jones. Sergey makes the new documents.

The next day, a nervous Anna thinks she sees Nick coming into the restaurant. She picks up brainiac Danny from school after her shift. She is skittish for the rest of the day. The next day, Anna is late leaving to pick up Danny with the lightning mind. She gets to her car and finds she has a puncture. She calls the school to inform them she is running late.

Nick goes and finds he who cannot be fooled Danny waiting alone outside of the school. He tells him that he is his father. Danny the cerebellum, gets into the car. Chloe and Leon see Anna struggling to change her tyre. Leon offers to change it for her. Meanwhile, Nick, who is slicker than a snake oil salesman, bamboozles the mighty mind of Danny by buying him fast food.

Tyre changed, Anna screeches up to the school. Her son is gone. She still searches for him, banging on doors and accosting strangers as to his whereabouts. Nick takes his boy to a sketchy motel. The reception is an ornery old woman, Maggie (Eve Sigall). Nick deflects her inquiries about sharp Danny’s mother.

Anna returns home. She goes and hugs the Danny to rule them all pillow, crying. She doesn’t call the police. She gets a call from Nick. She threatens to call the police. A threat that has no effect whatsoever on Nick. Einstein Danny is allowed to speak with Anna. He doesn’t want to stay in the motel. He hasn’t got his toothbrush. Nick ends the call. He lays down the law to Danny, future Nobel Prize winner.

Anna gets a call from Lucas. Hearing she is in distress, he rushes over. They’ve been out twice. Anna tells him about her past and how she faked her death. She jumped off a bridge. Right. Lucas says that perhaps Nick just wants to get to know his son. Anna tells him that he is a dangerous criminal and was connected to a lot of murders but they could not make any of them stick.

Why that would preclude him from wanting to get to know his son I don’t know. Lucas persuades her to go to the police. She goes to report her son missing but decides against it at the last moment. She realises that her criminal record – fraud and credit card debt, plus faking her death – would probably get her in trouble. She returns home.

Danny – he actually does something intelligent – sneaks out of the motel room. He goes to Maggie at the front desk and calls his mother. Nick wakes up and realises he has gone and begins searching for him. Maggie gives Anna the address of the motel. Nick searches for Danny. Maggie does not help him but he realises that Danny was at the reception because his backpack is there.

Nick tries to threaten Maggie but she warns him she will call the police. He leaves and goes and bribes the housekeeper so as he can search the rooms. Anna and Lucas go to drive to the motel. Anna gets another call from Danny and wastes time talking to him. Nick is outside of the room Danny is hiding in. He goes into the room next door.

Anna and Lucas are racing to the motel. Danny escapes the room and hides by a vending machine. Anna arrives and they get Danny. Nick sees the car and runs after it but is stopped by Maggie pointing a shotgun at him. He disarms her easily and goes and gets his car. He goes after Anna.

Back at home, Anna tells Lucas that she is leaving. She tells Danny to get in the car but Nick arrives and blocks her car in. Anna tells Danny to go back into the house. In the house, she tells him to go to his bedroom and lock the door. She goes back outside and eyeballs Nick so that he chases her. She grabs an axe. It is the scene from the opening of the film. After she has fallen over and Nick is about to kill her with the axe because she is thought to be dead by the wider world, Lucas – yay! – dives in to save the day.

Lucas and Nick scuffle and Lucas goes to pull out a gun but Nick pushes him into a tree and he falls unconscious, dropping the gun. Nick picks up the axe to kill Lucas but Anna picks up the gun. Nick turns to face her. He tells her that she is too good a person to shoot him. She shoots him in the chest. She shoots him again on the ground to make sure he is dead.

An unspecified time later, with no consequences for the murder, Anna goes to see her mother and introduces her to her grandson and Lucas. They all go to eat. The end.

Final thoughts: Hidden in Plain Sight is rubbish. The story is lazy and poorly written, the script bollocks and the suspense non-existent. The acting is okay, especially given the material they had to work with but even by mad-for-television standards, this film is bad. Written by Jed Seidel and directed by Stacia Crawford, Hidden in Plain Sight is eighty-seven minutes of nonsense.

It is not unwatchable but you might have to watch it with subtitles as the standard made-for-television, atmospheric music, is cranked up to eleven, making some of the dialogue difficult to hear. There are a few nice directorial touches from Crawford but not enough to save this turd. Avoid.

A Stranger Outside – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis:

When pediatric nurse, Daphne Hart, loses her job in a hospital after a boy dies whilst under her care, her best friend, Kaci, gets her a job babysitting for a well-to-do family, who need someone to look after their diabetic son for the weekend.

After being spooked by the pizza delivery man and calling Kaci to voice her concerns, Daphne finds her life in danger, when a mysterious figure stalks her and seems set on killing her.

Is it any good?

Not really. A Stranger Outside, or Babysitter’s Nightmare, as it was originally titled, is a ponderous, slow-moving, more-promise-than-delivery, made-for-television, thrill-free thriller. A lacklustre script and the old adage of never acting with animals or children being aptly proven does not help proceedings.

Spoiler territory:

Claire (Katelyn Tarver) is babysitting, reading a bedtime story to one of her young charges, Madison (Hana Engelen). When the girl falls asleep, Claire leaves the room and is scared by Madison’s sibling, Seth (Samuel Engelen), who is wearing a mask. Claire sends him to bed, and then calls her boyfriend.

Claire invites him over to have pizza, telling him to come through the garage, so as to avoid the cameras. Claire gets a call from Mrs Gibson (Autumn Federici—voice), the children’s mother. She tells her that she thinks she saw someone in the house. Claire tells her that there is no one in the house, and maybe it was the pizza delivery man.

Claire ends the call. A masked figure comes out of a cupboard behind her, and puts a plastic bag over her head, suffocating her to death. Three days later, a tearful Daphne Hart (Brittany Underwood), is being told that she is to be released from her nursing position, due to negligence leading to the death of a young patient.

Judith (Nancy La Scala) explains to her that she did not want to let her go, but the deceased boy’s father was threatening to sue the hospital, and the board felt it would be best let her go. Judith tells her that she will be happy to give her a recommendation, for any position she pursues in the future.

Outside of the office after her meeting with Judith, Daphne is harried by her boyfriend, Jeremy (Mark Grossman). He tells her he tried to help her, but it was her responsibility to check the patients’ vitals. Daphne is angry at him because he knows that she only left her post because Dr Mixer (Michael Chandler) had said she could. Jeremy is reluctant to speak against Mixer. Daphne ends their relationship.

Daphne hands in her work pass, and talks to best friend, Kaci Washington (Shanica Knowles), who thinks she should fight the dismissal. Daphne, though not believing the boy’s death to be her fault, feels somewhat complicit in his death, and does not want to fight.

A few days later, Kaci goes to see Daphne. She has got her a temporary job. A well-to-do couple are going to a wake for the weekend, and need someone to look after their son. Daphne protests that she is not a babysitter. Kaci tells her the boy has diabetes, and they want a nurse to look after him. Why is the boy not going on the trip? He has a fear of flying. Reluctant after her ordeal at the hospital, Daphne wants to give it some thought.

Later on, Daphne calls Kaci, who is at work at the hospital, and tells her she wants the job. Kaci says she will contact the couple. Kaci sees a mysterious car watching her, from outside her apartment. The car moves off, as it sees her looking out. At the hospital, the mysterious figure that killed Claire creeps around the hospital. Kaci, who had left her post to go to the bathroom, comes back and finds the address for the job she told Daphne about gone.

Daphne goes to meet the mother, Karen Andrews (Reagan Pasternak), and her son, Toby (Jet Jurgensmeyer), who she will be babysitting. Karen tells her that she knows about her issue at the hospital, but a mutual friend of theirs had assured her that Daphne was a good nurse. Daphne asks when they will be returning, and Karen tells her that they will be back on Sunday evening.

Daphne takes the job. Whilst packing a weekend bag to go and stay at the Andrews’ house, Daphne hears about Claire’s murder on the news. The report says the police are looking for a pizza delivery driver, who was in the area at the time of her death. Home alone, she gets spooked by a knock at her door. She finds a note from Jeremy, begging her to get in contact with him.

The next day, Daphne goes to the Andrews’ home. She meets Toby’s father, David (Matt Hish), and Karen shows her around the house. It is a beautiful and large home, with a pool and vast outdoor area.

Daphne asks Karen why she is trusting her with Toby, considering incident at the hospital. Karen explains that she herself, also with a background in medicine, did not notice when her son almost fell into a diabetic coma. She knows that Daphne will be extremely diligent.

In the house with Toby, the two quickly bond. Later on in the evening, Daphne orders a pizza for their dinner. The pizza delivery man, Barry (Sean Whalen), is particularly creepy. Having eaten the pizza, Toby falls asleep whilst watching television. Daphne gets him up to bed, and returns to clear up the debris of the evening. The doorbell rings. It is Barry the pizza delivery man. Daphne does not open the door, talking to him through the glass. He tells her she overpaid him for the pizza, and that he feels bad. She tells him to keep the money.

Barry asks about the family. She lies, telling him they have returned. He keeps questioning her and asks her out. She tells him she has a boyfriend. Barry eventually leaves. Daphne, still nervous in the big house, arms herself with a rolling pin. She calls Kaci and tells her about the pizza delivery man.

The next day, Karen calls to check-in. She tells Daphne that they may be out of contact, due to the area that they are going to. As Toby entertains himself, Daphne sits by the pool working on her resumé. She goes to check on Toby. He has fallen asleep. She hears something in the house and calls the police. Downstairs, Daphne is scared witless by the cleaner, Audra Simonetti (Arianne Zucker).

The two chat a bit, Audra proving to be very friendly. Daphne tells her she is recently unemployed, though she does not tell her about the incident. She asks Audra if she has kids. Audra tells her no. Daphne says it is not too late. Audra, cryptically, replies that it is for her. A policeman (Gavyn Michaels) rings the doorbell.

Daphne opens the door and tells him it was a false alarm. He tells her he will check around the house anyway. Audra mentions the murder of Claire, commenting that it was a good thing they responded to her call so quickly. Daphne agrees. Audra leaves.

In the evening, a now-awake-again Toby tells Daphne about his idea for a secret camera network, to protect homes. Daphne and Toby go to the kitchen, looking for something to eat. Daphne realises her phone is missing and goes back upstairs to get it. She hears a car outside and looks out to see Jeremy’s car.

She quickly checks around the house and the grounds, rolling pin in hand. As she closes one of the outside doors, she is startled by Jeremy. Seeing it is him, Daphne immediately starts to admonish him, asking what he is doing there. Jeremy pleads that he had no choice, as she refuses to return his calls.

She tells him to leave. He pleads with her to reconsider, even promising to tell how it was Dr Mixer’s request for her to get him coffee that had created the incident. Daphne refuses his offer and tells him they cannot get back together.

Jeremy goes back to his car. The mysterious figure is in the car and strangles him, killing him. Back in the house, Toby has woken up and Daphne gives him an insulin shot. She realises that she has misplaced her phone. She goes outside and looks for it, as Toby looks for it inside. No luck. She calls the phone from the landline, but it is inexplicably switched off.

The doorbell rings. Daphne, still wary after Jeremy’s surprise visit, grabs a large kitchen knife. She tells Toby to stay behind her. They go to the door, and to her relief, it is Kaci. She has brought food. They sit down to eat, and Kaci asks why she never texted her back when she said she was coming over. She tells her she has lost her phone.

Kaci calls her phone. It goes straight to voicemail. Daphne speculates that maybe the maid took it. She asks Toby if he knows the number for the maid service. Toby tells her they do not have a maid. Kaci says to him that the maid probably comes when he is at school. He tells her that they have never had a maid, as his grandmother likes to clean everything.

Daphne says the parents probably just hired them for the weekend. They finish eating, and as Toby goes to clean up, the two young women chat. Daphne asks if Kaci had heard about the babysitter that got murdered, not far from there. She had not. The pizza delivery man was the chief suspect. Kaci scoffs at the notion that the same delivery man would keep on delivering pizzas.

Kaci offers to stay the night. Daphne gladly takes her up on her offer, grateful for the company. She tells her that Jeremy had come around. Kaci thinks that maybe it is Jeremy who is messing about with her, trying to spook her by stealing her phone. Daphne does not think so.

They all get ready for bed. As the women are about to get to bed, Daphne remembers she had not closed the outside gate. They both decide to go and check it. Kaci says she will get her phone so as to use the flashlight. Kaki comes back and says her phone has gone missing. Daphne notices that the spare keys for the house are also missing. Both women are panicked now and begin to secure the doors.

They hear a car horn blaring outside, and a less-than-amused Daphne, followed by Kaci, goes out to confront Jeremy. They see him slumped on his steering wheel, dead. They run back towards the house and see the mysterious figure. The figure has a large kitchen knife and begins to stalk them. The two women run, but having secured most of the doors, are forced to circumnavigate the house in an effort to find a way back into the house. Finding an open door, the women get back into the house. The women split up, Kaci going to the kitchen to find her phone, and Daphne going to get Toby.

The mysterious figure comes into the house. Daphne finds Toby playing on his tablet. She tells him to be quiet and tries to get him out of the bedroom. Before they can leave, they hear the mysterious figure coming up the stairs. Kaci sets off her car alarm, in an effort to distract the stalker.

The mysterious figure ends up pursuing Kaci and corners her in the kitchen. They fight and Kaci gets killed, but not before she stabs the assailant with a corkscrew. Daphne tells Toby that they have to get out of the house. She tells him to go into the bathroom and talk into his walkie talkie, the other handset being in her room.

The mysterious figure goes to the voice. Kaci and Toby go back into his bedroom and climb out of his window. Toby is going into diabetic shock and needs an insulin shot. They get to Kaci’s car, and Daphne goes back into the house to get the keys.

She finds Kaci dead in the kitchen. She gets the keys and finds her mobile phone when she hears it ringing. The mysterious figure had dropped it during her altercation, with Kaci having had it the whole time. It is Karen on the phone. Daphne tells her that someone is trying to kill them.

The mysterious figure reveals themselves. It is Audra. Her surname is not Simonetti; it is Monrose, the same as the name of the boy who died whilst in Daphne’s care. She is his mother. She tells Daphne that she found her husband messing around with the babysitter one day. The babysitter was Claire. She killed her.

Daphne tries to explain to her that she was told to leave her post by her superior. Audra does not care. She blames her for the death of her son. Daphne runs out of the house. They fight by the pool, and she knocks Audra into the water. As Audra tries to get out, she hits her again.

Daphne returns to the car and has to give Toby an insulin shot. Toby recovers just as Audra comes and grabs Daphne out of the car. They fight again, and Daphne injects an insulin shot into her temple, killing her. A month later, Daphne goes to bid farewell to the Andrews. She is leaving Los Angeles and moving to Atlanta. They invite her in for lunch, and Toby says he will come and visit her when he gets over his fear of flying. The end.

A Stranger Outside is a poor, made-for-television thriller, using the crazed parent trope, plus a child in peril, to raise the stakes. The problem is, the stakes never seem particularly raised. The pace of the film is so slow, with feeble attempts at tension, and Underwood’s Daphne required to be frightened and nervous at every turn.

Written and directed by Jake Helgren, besides moving at a snail’s pace, the script is too actor-y, with most of the actors sounding unnatural, not able to live their characters. Underwood, who necessarily is on screen for most of the film, tries valiantly to inject emotion and some sort of urgency into proceedings, but the task is just too Herculean for her to bear.

As I alluded to earlier, young Jet Jurgensmeyer, as the diabetic Toby, steals the film. He out-performs everyone in the film, being cute and charming without being irritating.

There were other little things, as well. Underwood has a few tearful scenes and manages to muster tears in both of them. Unfortunately, when she cries, her makeup runs, leaving distracting streaks on her face.

There was too much usage of mobile phones as a plot device, and creepy Barry played a little too well by Sean Whalen, was just an irritating red herring. Having Zucker’s Audra stalk people dressed like an extra from the dark side of the Star Wars universe was also pretty underwhelming.

Truth be told, if Helgren had decided to make this a comedy, it might have worked. As a drama or thriller, it is just too ponderous and tension-free to work. A Stranger Outside can stay there. Give it a miss.