Hostage House – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: Whilst showing a house, a realtor is visited by her daughter, who wants to see the impressive listing. The two women are taken hostage by a couple, desperate to evade the law.

Is it any good?: It is titled Hostage House. The makers pushed the boat out on that title. Suffice to say, no, it is not a good film. The acting is poor and that is being kind.

How this film managed to garner a three-point-eight on IMDB is anybody’s guess. That is a very generous score.

There is, apparently, a high bar for getting films onto Netflix. I think it is probably a nepotistic bar.

There is no way anyone at Netflix watched this and thought: “This is a great film! People will love this!” Not even if they were high and drunk.

This film is awful.

Spoiler territory: Realtor, Susan (Jennifer Taylor), is in a mountain of debt. She has to sell the family home but does not want her daughter, Heather (Julia Terranova), to find out.

She hides the multiple debt letters she has received in her bag as Julia comes into the house. Susan opines about Heather going away to school. Heather, a teenager in her mid-twenties, thinks she wants to get rid of her. She does.

Susan hopes to sell a high-end property she has on the books, the commission of which will clear her debts. A stellar plan. Heather sees the cards for the property and is impressed. Heather is not due at college for a month.

Susan, planning on selling the family home, suggests they go out to dinner. Always easier to deliver bad news on a full stomach. Heather heads out for a run. Susan gets ready to head to the property.

Susan chats with Darren (Patrick Cronen), part of the private security that looks after the properties. He congratulates her on getting the owners to sell the property. He’s very friendly.

Susan gets to the property, preparing to stage it for potential buyers. She hears a noise. It’s only five minutes in, so nothing is going to happen. She is startled by her boss, Paul (Richard Neil).

They talk about her house. Paul, who wears too much jewellery and looks like he was in a failed rock band, is surprised to hear she has not told Heather. He gets overly touchy-feely as he gives her a pep talk. He only cares about the sale of the property.

Heather, out running with a friend, Tracy (Jasmine Newell), whines about her mother wanting to get rid of her. Tracy advises that she speak with her mother. It’s probably just empty-nest feelings that she is trying to cover up.

Heather is soothed by her words, enough to want to run again. Back at the property, Susan is showing potential buyers the house. As evening comes around, she shows the last viewers out. A police car blazes by the grounds, sirens blaring.

Susan, her day over, settles down, taking off her shoes. She hears a sound. Again it is nothing to worry about, Heather making an impromptu visit, eager to see the house.

A police helicopter is buzzing overhead, as the same police car, as before, blazes by the grounds, sirens still blaring. A car pulls up to the house. More buyers; with darkness falling and the viewing over, Susan is reluctant to show them around.

Heather persuades her that she may as well. Susan opens the door to a young couple; Natalie (Emily Sweet) and Keith (Justin C Schilling). Keith does not look good. He locks the door as they enter.

Keith is bleeding from a gunshot wound. The couple still follows their ruse of being an interested party, letting Susan show them around the house. Keith bleeding to death does not seem to alter their plan.

A curious Susan, discovering his bleeding, makes them alter their plans. Susan is now their hostage. Heather is creeping around the house, having spotted blood spots in the kitchen.

Heather sees Natalie pointing a gun at her mother and gasp. Natalie hears her and asks if there is anybody else in the house. Susan lies. Natalie does not believe her and looks around the house.

Natalie, who has probably never played hide-n-seek, peeks into a couple of rooms, around a corner and is satisfied. Heather, unhappy with not being found, makes even more noise.

Keith, more levelheaded than his female companion, checks the security cameras. They see Heather trying to escape and quickly apprehend her.

With both women now captive, Susan tries to manipulate the situation. A policeman, Murphy (Kamen Casey), comes to the door. They are going door-to-door, looking for the two criminals. They killed a man during their last robbery.

Susan manages to persuade him that she is safe. Murphy leaves but not before telling her that there are roadblocks all around. Paul keeps ringing Susan’s phone. Natalie calls their boss.

In a private moment with Natalie, Susan tells her she knows she is pregnant. Paul comes to the house and gets taken as a hostage. He tries to negotiate their release.

He insults Susan for her lack of fortitude. He also betrays the fact that she is selling the house. Not appreciating the gravity of the situation, Heather is mortified at the house being sold and finding out her mother is getting rid of her late father’s things.

Natalie and Keith take Paul to the car. She gets a call from the boss. He wants the money immediately, Natalie violently coercing Paul into accepting the new proposal.

Paul manages to escape and get to the perimeter of the grounds. The fencing is high, with iron spear-like brackets. Paul, no longer a youthful fellow, attempts to climb the fence and is impaled on the fence.

Meanwhile, Susan and Heather have freed themselves and escaped. They see Darren and flag him down. Darren – shock and horror – is the boss! he takes them back to the house.

Back at the house, Darren has an ego moment. He rants about his poor treatment from the wealthy minority. It’s a real bitching session. Speaking of bitching, Heather is still moaning about the house sale.

Darren wants to take one of the women as a hostage for insurance. Keith disagrees but is out-voted.

Darren takes Natalie aside, going outside. She was supposed to kill Keith. He was to be the fall guy for all the robberies.

Susan tells Keith that he is not part of Darren’s plan. He listens in on them and finds out they plan to betray him, frame him and kill the women. Keith frees the two women.

Darren and Natalie chase the women, Natalie remotely locking all the house’s doors. Keith and Darren fight but Keith is easily overpowered and knocked out. Keith comes to and unlocks the house.

Mother and daughter escape separately. Natalie gets thrown in the pool by Heather. She is not at all happy about it. Susan alerts the police by firing shots into the sky. Darren captures Heather.

Darren wants the money. Keith starts burning the money and Darren has a meltdown. He shoots Keith and turns to shoot Susan. Murphy kills him. The police arrest Natalie, and – because Darren was a terrible shot – a still alive, Keith.

Susan apologises to Heather for some reason. All’s well. A few weeks later, Susan drives her to college. Months later – I assume, because she was not showing at all – Natalie gives birth. Her baby is taken from her because she is in prison. The end.

Final thoughtsHostage House is a turd. Directed by David Benullo and written by Daniel West, the film is poor in every department. The acting is rubbish.

Though, I suspect, it is down to poor direction. It is not possible, for so many bad actors to all appear in the same film. The story is weak, the characters underwritten and the motivation nonexistent.

The music is horrible. Overwrought, too damn loud and not adding to proceedings at all. It is as though West just kept adding elements in the hope of the story working. It doesn’t.

Hostage House – a title of breathtaking laziness – is total poo. Avoid.

Till Death – review

Brief synopsis: A woman must fight for her life when her husband hatches an elaborate plan to have her killed in revenge for an extra-marital affair. 

Is it any good?: Till Death is not good. It could have been, but it is over-complicated, poorly paced. Additionally, Megan Fox, who plays the protagonist, cannot act. 

Spoiler territory: Emma (Megan Fox) tells Tom (Aml Ameen) that their affair must end. She cannot do it anymore. Tom, going full simp, tries to persuade her that they have something. She leaves the hotel room. 

It is her wedding anniversary. She puts her wedding band on as she drives to meet her husband, Mark (Eoin Macken), at his office.

She has tears in her eyes. Whether they are guilt or regret, is not clear. Mark’s assistant (Lili Rich) gives her a bouquet of white roses. Happy anniversary. Emma thanks her. Her expression looks as though she received a parking ticket. 

She goes into his office to wait for him. On his desk, there is a police case folder. Mark is an attorney. The case folder has a photograph of a beat-up Emma in it. It is the case folder of the man who assaulted her, Bobby Ray (Callan Mulvey). Bobby Ray does not look like a friendly guy. 

She remembers the attack, how he stabbed her in the back. Her reverie is interrupted by Mark. He remarks on her dress. He thought she would wear the red one, his favourite. She felt like something different. 

He ignores her, saying she can change on the way. So much for women’s rights. She asks why he has the file on her case. He tells her that Bobby Ray’s had his parole revoked. She should not be looking at the file. It could trigger her anxiety. 

She does not seem overly anxious; she looks bored. They leave the office, stepping into the elevator. The miserable couple stands beside one another, lost in differing thoughts. 

The elevator stops. Sam gets on. Seeing Mark, he greets him with deference, being one of his subordinates. He does not acknowledge Emma. Subtle. 

Mark asks if he has met his wife, turning to Emma. Sam, understandably, lies. No, he has never met her. Emma, the brazen hussy, points out they met at the Christmas party. Sam, not wanting to look like a punk, pretends to recall it. 

Mark, ominously, says they did not meet at the Christmas party. Both Emma and Sam look as though they are about to shit their pants. They met at the holiday party. Mark is enjoying their discomfort a little too much. 

Mark and Emma head to a restaurant to celebrate their anniversary, relations between them remaining challenging. Emma is in her red dress.

A waitress asks if they would like dessert. Emma declines. Mark, in a particularly alpha move, orders dessert for both of them. He then slides a jewellery box over to Emma. 

She was not expecting a gift. It’s a surprise. It is a steel necklace. Steel, not silver or platinum. Steel. The man is a successful attorney and buys his wife a steel necklace. She does not see any alarm bells, remarking that it is beautiful. 

Elsewhere in the restaurant, a man (Julian Balahurov) proposes to his girlfriend (Stefanie Rozhko). She tearfully accepts. There is celebratory applause from the other patrons. Truthfully, the man is older enough to be her grandfather. 

Anyhoo, Mark comments on how, not long ago, that was her. She gives him a gift; tickets for the Superbowl. With a breathtaking lack of grace, he rejects the tickets. 

Mark has another surprise for her. He has put a blindfold in her pocket. Not the most exciting present and, given their frosty relationship, should have sounded some alarm bells. It does not. 

He takes the now blindfolded Emma for a drive. She gets agitated, removing the blindfold an hour into the journey. They are on the way to the lake house. It is the dead of winter, with snow and ice all around.

At the lake house, Emma has the blindfold on again. She is counting to one hundred. Removing the blindfold, she sees that he has set out house romantically; rose petals on the ground; candles, secret messages. 

She finds him in the bedroom, holding a couple of flutes of champagne. He apologises for the state of their relationship; It has not been going well for a while. That’s good enough for her. He’s getting action. 

Emma wakes in the morning to find Mark sitting up. He has handcuffed her to him. Confused, she calls to him. Mark turns to her and tells her it is time to wake up. He commits suicide, shooting himself in the head. 

A blood-splattered Emma is, understandably, shocked. Attached to his bloody and disfigured corpse, she looks at her options. She will call somebody. Nope. He thought of that; no phone line. Use the gun to shoot off the handcuff? There was only one bullet in the gun. He blew his brains out with it. 

Emma drags his body to the top of the stairs. She needs to go downstairs. Not thinking it through, she pulls him to the top of the stairs, promptly crashing down the steps under his weight. 

She goes to the kitchen but Mark, the fiend, has thought of everything. There are no utensils; no way for her to separate from her recently deceased spouse. 

She finds the car keys and drags dead Mark to the garage., which is outside the main house. Because he has left her with no clothes, including no footwear. Not only must she contend with his non-cooperative bodyweight, but also the freezing weather. 

She gets to the car and attempts to drive away. That would be too easy; he has drained the tank. He left her a message in the car. 

He knows about her affair with Tom, though it was not the reason he committed suicide. The suicide worked with his plan. She has no idea what that plan is. She goes back to the house. 

Emma tries to remove the necklace after washing the blood off her face. It will not come off. A frustrated Emma rages at his hypocrisy. A still dead, Mark, does not react. 

Tom turns up at the house. After an initial reluctance, Emma opens the door to him and explains what has happened. He tells her that Mark was about to be arrested for tampering with multiple cases. Hence the suicide. 

Tom has left his mobile charging in his car. As he goes to retrieve it, a car is pulling up to the house. He tells Emma to lock the door, get back in. 

Jimmy (Jack Roth) purports to be a plumber. He has come to fix the pipes. Tom tells him that it will not be possible to do the job at that time, he is happy to pay him for his time. 

Jimmy is determined to enter the house, coming up with myriad reasons to be let in. Tom gets aggressive, insisting that he leave. Jimmy did not come alone. Bobby Ray is Jimmy’s brother. he is not as patient as his younger sibling. 

He stabs Tom, killing him, much to the distress of his brother. Bobby calms him down. They need to search the house and find Emma. Emma’s movement is still somewhat restricted by having to drag a corpse around. 

Somehow, she manages to evade the two hapless brothers and get to the boathouse. In the boathouse, Emma frees herself from her dead deadbeat husband by cutting off his thumb. 

The brothers almost find her. Almost. They find Mark’s body. Bobby tells Jimmy that it was Mark who gave him the job. Jimmy recognises Mark as the person who put Bobby in prison. 

Bobby wants the money. he also wants revenge. Jimmy looks at the safe. It needs a thumbprint and a combination to open. Jimmy thinks the job is too much trouble and wants to leave. His brother wants the fortune. 

He tells Jimmy to get the corpse. He will find Emma. After some more cat-and-mouse antics, Bobby captures Emma. Not before she can make a call to the police. 

Bobby wants the combination to the safe. Emma does want to give it to him, knowing it is the only thing keeping her alive. Bobby believes he can coax the combination out of her by giving her an incentive. He threatens to cut off her toes. 

Jimmy, exasperated by his brother’s penchants for violence, prevents him from carrying out his threat. He points the gun Mark killed himself with at Bobby. He does not know that there are no bullets in the gun. 

Jimmy persuades Emma to give him the code. Bobby opens the safe; it is empty with only a message left in it. The diamonds are close to Emma’s heart. The diamonds are in the necklace. 

She tries to remove the necklace, but it has no clasp. Bobby, eager to exact retribution on Emma, realises that Mark wants them to cut her head off. He has no problem with that. 

His violence averse brother is opposed to that option, causing the two brothers to fight. Jimmy gets killed during the altercation. Bobby, not one for rational thought or discourse, blames Emma. 

He attacks her. First, trying to shoot her with the unloaded gun, then the two wrestle on the ground. Emma manages to escape, but not before he stabs her in the leg. She manages to handcuff Bobby to Mark. 

Bobby relentlessly pursues Emma dragging Mark’s corpse. They end up on the lake fighting. The ice breaks, Bobby is dragged down by Mark’s corpse but not before grabbing Emma. 

In the icy waters below the surface, the two struggle once more. Emma manages to grab the knife Bobby wants to kill her with and stabs him in the eye. 

Freed from his grasp, she escapes to the surface. Sirens blare as the police head to the lakehouse. The end. 

Final thoughts: Till Death is a moderately entertaining film let down by a weak central performance. Written by Jason Carvey and directed by S. K. Dale, the film looks good and has a good premise. 

The film moves too slowly, the pacing exposing Fox’s thespian shortcomings. Everybody else on show is good. Even Macken makes the underwritten role of Mark work. 

Unfortunately, Fox is the driving force of the film. Though not unwatchable, her expressiveness seems only able to cover sullen or miffed. One is never fully invested in her battle. 

The underwritten script makes elements of the story muddled, taking away from the main story. 

At eighty-eight minutes long, Till Death is not a long film, it just takes too long to get going. The downside is it tries to stuff too much into the conclusion. 

If you like Megan Fox, you might enjoy Till Death. For non-Fox fans, there is not much to recommend this film.

Intrusion – review

Brief synopsis: a couple, tired of big city living, moved across the country to a small rural town in the hopes of living a more sedate life. Returning from a date night, they find their home ransacked after a break-in. 

Their relationship comes under severe strain when the husband kills multiple assailants during a second break-in. 

Is it any good?: Um, it might be if one had any idea what was happening! To say Intrusion is a confusing mess is an understatement. That the central pairing of Pinto and Marshall-Green lack any chemistry does not help either. 

Midway through the film, one is still confused. What is it about? Who are the characters? The film could – and probably should be – called ‘Trust’, but I suspect that title is somewhat overused. It is still a weak effort. Something that is all too often the case on Netflix. 

Spoiler territory: out for a date night, psychiatric counsellor, Meera (Freida Pinto) and her architect husband, Henry Parsons (Logan Marshall-Green), the least compatible looking couple in tv-movie-history, return home to find their new place wrecked. 

Meera, a cancer survivor and prone to anxiety, is, understandably, an emotional wreck. Henry, ever the doting husband, tries to reassure her that everything will be fine. They report the break-in to the police.

Detective Steven Morse (Robert John Burke), visits Henry, whilst Meera is at work. The detective asks what items were taken. Just a couple of mobile phones and a laptop. Did they have any enemies? Not that Henry knew of. They had only been in the town for a year. 

They had moved from Boston. He had decided to build a house in Corrales. He had wanted to get away from the rat race, create a place for his wife to feel safe after her health issues. None of this is explained until five minutes from the end of the film. I guess the writer thought it would be too much exposition. 

Did he have any enemies in Boston? The spectacle-wearing, Henry, looks aghast at the thought that he could have an enemy that would cross the country. Truthfully, Henry looks like a serial killer but the detective is too polite to say. 

The detective remarks on the lack of a security system in the house. Henry says he thought Corrales was a safe town. Never watched shitty Netflix movies then…

Meera goes to see her oncologist, doctor Burke (Denielle Fisher Johnson). The doctor mentions how she heard about the break-in. It’s a small town. Back at the house, Henry is installing a locks and security system. It works vis their mobile phones.

Meera returns home. Henry has been busy putting the home back in order. He has replaced their mobile phones. He also installed an app, so as they know where the other person is at all times. Not big brother like at all. Meera seems unperturbed by all the changes, trusting her, slightly overprotective husband, implicitly. 

During the night, Meera wakes up and notices that the power is out. She wakes Henry. He checks the generator outside the house. It has been tampered with, the power deliberately cut. He looks back to the house and sees torch beams in the rooms. Henry runs back to the house. 

Meera is tied up in the bedroom. Henry quickly frees his wife and the two sneak downstairs. The intruders are in Henry’s office. Henry goes and gets a gun that he had hidden in a plant pot, much to the obvious surprise of Meera. Henry is tackled by one of the men, Meera’s screams alerting the others. 

The couple manages to escape, running back up to the bedroom. Henry tells Meera to get to the car, lowering her over the balcony. Before he can follow his wife, Henry is grabbed by the intruders. Meera goes to the car but hears shots fired and screams for her husband. One of the intruders staggers towards the car, already dying from a gunshot wound. Henry shoots him in the back. In the back! 

The next day, Meera wants to know why there was a gun in the house. Henry apologises. He is bullish about not having told her about the weapon, as that weapon saved their lives. Detective Morse comes to see the couple. The men who broke into their home were all from the same family. The Cobb family. They resided in a trailer park in the rough part of town. Not that trailer parks are ever in the nice part. 

The family is also connected to the disappearance of a girl; Christine Cobb (Megan Elisabeth Kelly). She was a relation to the men. Later on, Meera cannot understand Henry’s blasé attitude. He killed three men. Henry lies, telling her it makes him sick to think about it. She does not believe him, especially as he seems to be focused on the house-warming they were planning. 

Henry pops out to pick up some things for the aforementioned party. He forgets his wallet and Meera’s efforts to contact him on his mobile are met with his voicemail. She decides to go after him, to give him the wallet. 

Whilst following after him, she notes that he takes a road heading towards the hospital. She is unable to keep following him, getting into a minor accident on the road. She returns home and asks him about his journey, telling him she followed him and he took the wrong road. 

Henry, his dodgy facade fading by the minute since his murder spree, says he took the wrong road. Meera does not look convinced. She gives him his wallet. What happened to her car? She had it towed and took an Uber. 

At work the next day, Meera suffers a PTSD episode. She imagines one of the intruders pointing a gun at her. It never happened. She leaves work. One of her colleagues bid her farewell and voices her sadness at the cancellation of the housewarming party. Meera did not know about the cancellation. 

In the car park, she is surprised by detective Morse. He heard about her accident. He also tells her that one of the intruders, who had been in hospital, died. He died on Sunday night. He notes that Meera is driving a new car. It’s Henry’s, she tells him. The detective leaves. 

Meera checks the vehicle’s satellite navigation, scrolling through the addresses. One is the trailer park home of the Cobbs, the family Henry wiped out. She visits the home and finds one of Henry’s business corporate envelopes addressed to the Cobbs. 

She finds a video camera and USB drive in their mail slot. Meera is confronted by a paranoid trailer park resident, Clint Oxbow (Clint Obenchain). He smashes the camera, believing she had filmed him. A shaken Meera returns home and tries to view the video but the damage done to the camera prevents it from playing properly. 

She orders a new camera, putting her work address for the delivery. Alone at home, Meera snoops around Henry’s office. She looks at the contents of the USB drive. There are pictures of the house construction. One of the Cobbs, the father of Christine, Dylan (Mark Sivertsen) is in the photos. So is Christine. 

Henry returns home. Meera gets flustered as Henry questions about her whereabouts. The app showed her across town. Meera avoids the question. Later, sitting down to dinner, Henry comes back to the question. He is intense, asking her if she is hiding something. Meera, nervous, a little guilty, stammers. 

He asks her about her doctor’s appointment and if she got the results as he thought that the specialist was on the other side of town. He is just worried that she is keeping it from him. He apologises for the inquisition. 

As Henry sleeps, Meera gets up to look at the photos on the USB stick. In the morning, Henry wakes up to see the bed beside him empty. Meera has already left. Outside the police station, Meera is wrestling with the notion of giving the USB to the authorities. She decides against it, deterred by seeing a crazed Clint being taken into the station under arrest for killing a female. 

Meera returns home and confronts Henry about the evidence she found at the trailer park. Henry tells her that the house and her treatment forced him to make certain decisions that impacted them financially. A deal he made with the Cobb family resulted in him being blackmailed. 

Meera laps up the excuse, her worries soothed by his elaborate explanation. The tension lifted, Henry thinks it would be a good idea to have the cancelled housewarming party. A few days later, the house is full of people and Henry and Meera are the gracious hosts. 

During the evening, Meera sees a news broadcast reporting on Clint’s arrest. He was arrested for animal cruelty, killing a dog. A bitch, the female. Suspicions surrounding his connection to the disappearance of Christine, had been dismissed. 

Something in the newscast prompts her to watch the video she found. The video shows Dylan saying he thinks Henry had something to do with his daughter’s disappearance. Meera decides to search Henry’s office. The party is still going on. 

She finds a button in his office. The button opens a secret door to a basement. Meera finds Christine tied to a chair in the room. Christine sees Meera and begins to scream and panic. The sound does not travel as she is gagged. Henry, who had noticed the light in his office go on, finds Meera in the room.

He tries to explain to her that he has urges. That is why he built the house. Really? They have been married for twelve years, the house is a year old. Anyhoo, Meera, standing in front of her deranged husband, tries to call the police. Henry stops her and ties her up in the basement. Henry returns to the party and gets rid of the guests, making an excuse about Meera being unwell. 

In the basement, Christine tells Meera she has no idea how long she has been in the basement. He did not abuse her physically. It was purely mental, telling her that he would decide. Meera manages to free herself. She frees Christine. 

Henry returns to the basement, still wanting to continue his relationship with Meera. The two women escape the basement, into the main house. They try to leave the house but Henry locks all of the doors remotely. 

He finds the women in the house and knocks Meera into a daze as he drags Christine back to the basement. In the basement, Henry picks up a baseball bat. He is going to kill Christine. Meera hits Henry first, splitting his head open with a heavy ornament, killing him. 

Sometime later, Meera sells the house and returns to Boston. The end. 

Final thoughts: Intrusion is a very silly film. It is too short for the story it wants to tell and most of the tension comes from the music instead of the story. Ably directed by Adam Salky, this underwritten film comes from the pen of Chris Sparling. 

There are all the elements of a promising film; a loving central relationship. A relocation to a small town. A secretive yet possessive spouse. A curious protagonist to help the viewer discover the story and unravel the plot. It is all there.

Unfortunately, none of the elements are utilised particularly well. There is a vague thread about cancer and Meera’s understandable worry. Then five minutes from the end we learn that it was quite serious, crippling her for a period. We only find this out through an expository dump as Henry whines about his urges.

His ‘urges’, as he calls them, are not alluded to at any other time in the film. There is no hint at a history of murderous urges or missing girls. Even though he had Christine captive, it only seemed to be so as he could decide when to cave her head in with the baseball bat. A very specific urge. 

How they had managed to be married for over a decade yet Meera did not notice his homicidal urges, is inconceivable and unbelievable. Henry is clingy and overbearing but the film portrays them as though their relationship is new. 

The film looks good in a modern, lean sort of way. The set design lacks soul, with none of the locations looking natural or adding to the story. Admittedly, the film does whizz through its ninety-two-minute runtime but that speed is to its detriment. An extra fifteen minutes, allowing for more of a build-up would have improved this film immensely. One to give a miss.

Hypnotic – review

Brief synopsis: Reeling from the trauma of stillbirth and the breakup of a long term relationship, a woman finds her life spiralling into depression. She is convinced by her best friend to see a hypnotherapist. Initially, the sessions yield good results. Then strange things start happening. 

Is it any good?: Hypnotic begins promisingly but quickly descends into a lazy mess. An interesting, though in no way new or unique premise, is used in the most uninspiring fashion. Utilising the obsessive/possessive troupe, Hypnotic becomes a plodding chore, losing the drive and promise of the opening scenes by the midway point. Disappointing. 

Spoiler territory: Andrea Bowen (Stephanie Cudmore) is alone in her office late into the evening. Peeking nervously through her office blinds. Somebody is watching her. She calls a police detective but gets his answer machine. 

She leaves her office and heads to the elevator. She is still nervous and panicky as she steps into the elevator. She gets an anonymous caller. I don’t know about you but I never answer anonymous calls. Andrea however, does. The caller tells her this is how the world ends. 

Andrea goes into a full-blown panic and feels the walls of the elevator closing in on her. That is the last we see of Ms Bowen. 

Jenn Tompson (Kate Siegel) arrives for her friends’, Gina (Lucie Guest) and Scott Kelman (Luck Roderique), housewarming. She apologises to an apprehensive Gina for her tardiness. She also apologises for drinking the bottle of wine she was going to bring them, offering up a frankly pathetic, dying plant instead. 

Gina is a little flustered. She had been trying to contact her because Brian (Jaime M Calllica) is at the party. Awkward. She did not think that Jenn was going to come. Ever the aspiring alcoholic, Jenn says she needs a glass of wine. 

Inside the new home, Jenn comforts herself with a glass of wine. She exchanges furtive glances with ex-fiancé, Brian. 

Truthfully, their housewarming looks like the most staged event ever, the home overflowing with people. It is more of a house showing-off. 

Anyhoo, ever the gracious host and good friend, Gina introduces Jenn to Dr Collin Meade (Jason O’Mara). She is gushing in praise of the good doctor – always a red flag – and encourages Jenn to go and see him. Jenn is not overly keen on the idea of therapy, preferring to wallow in her drunken depression. 

A little later, Gina, Scott, Jenn and Brian are sitting around a table chatting. Brian’s career is going really well. He is a software engineer and is explaining his new project when Brian, rudely, interrupts the conversation to ask about Jenn’s life and career. A reticent Jenn tells him she is between jobs. Unemployed. 

Brian goes to eat one of the hor d’oeuvres Gina and Scott had provided and is stopped by Jenn. The snack contains sesame, something Brian is extremely allergic to. Damn that Jenn! Thwarting Gina and Scott’s murderous plan! Brian seems nonplussed that his supposed friends were serving him life-threatening snacks. 

As the party wraps up, Jenn is still hugging a wine bottle and never-empty glass. Dr Collin gives her his card and tells her to call him. Outside the house, Brian thanks Jenn for saving his life. She is waiting for an Uber. 

They have a stilted, cryptic conversation, the kind only people who know one another can have. Brian offers to take her home. Jenn is reluctant, wary of her feelings. He tells her it is just a lift. She accepts the offer. 

In the morning, she wakes up to find a note from Brian on her pillow. It was the booze! Of course it was…She meets up with Gina and confesses her weakness of succumbing to Brian’s barely-made-an-effort game. Gina, ever the cheerleader for Dr Meade, advises her to go and see the therapist. 

Jenn, somewhat coerced by her enthusiastic friend, goes to see the doctor. In the spartan reception area of the doctor’s office, Jenn encounters another one of his patients, Tabby (Devyn Dalton). The slightly off-kilter Tabby gushes about the doctor’s abilities and how they have helped her. 

Jenn goes into Dr Collin’s somewhat cold office space. The doctor greets her. He is feeding his fish and remarks the having fish can be calming. I assume he means as a pet, not as part of one’s diet. 

He begins the session. He finds out that the crux of Jenn’s issues. She had been pregnant with her fiancé, Brian’s, child. The child had been stillborn six months into the term. 

Meade asks her if she had ever tried hypnotherapy. Jenn says she does not like the thought of being out of control. The fear of making monkey sounds every time you hear a bell is real! The good doctor assures her that she is the only one who can control her subconscious mind. He does not laugh manically. He should but resist the temptation. 

Jenn, at the end of her resistance in life anyway, agrees to be hypnotised. The session goes well and Jenn keeps up the sessions for a few months, getting her life together and finding employment. 

Jenn and Gina meet up, Jenn updating Gina about her life. Gina asks her if she is still seeing Meade for sessions. Jenn tells her twice a week for the past few months. 

Gina complains that she only saw him twice for sessions. No hypnotherapy. She wishes he would deal with her phobia of spiders. Be careful of what you wish for…

Jenn dreams of the doctor that night. They are in bed together. He caresses and tells her she is perfect. The next day, Jenn bumps into Dr Collin in the mall. Alarms bells? No…he invites her for coffee. 

Jenn asks him about himself. He had been married but his wife died. He tells her about his mentor, Doctor Sullivan. 

He changes the subject, asking how her relationship with Brian is. She is avoiding him, fearful of the feelings she would have to face. The doctor advises her to invite him over for dinner. Jenn is not so sure but follows the doctor’s suggestion. 

On the way to the supermarket, Jenn listens to a message from Brian accepting her invitation. She gets a call from an anonymous number. Answering the call, she falls into a trance. 

She snaps out of the trance and finds herself at home sitting at the dinner table. She hears someone choking in her bathroom. 

She goes into the bathroom and finds Brian on the floor, gasping for air. She gets him to the hospital. Gina comes to see her. Jenn tells her that she cannot remember anything about the evening. 

At her next session, Meade asks about Brian. He is in a coma. Jenn thinks it might be her fault. Meade gaslights her, babbling on about ego and the battle against fear. She needs to trust him. Okay. That night, she has a dream-cum-memory about Meade again. 

Troubled by the dream, Jenn goes to the kitchen for a glass of water. She finds the receipt from her trip to the supermarket, the last thing she remembered before waking up at the dinner table. The receipt triggers her memory. She remembers cooking with sesame seed oil. 

A troubled Jenn researches the good doctor. She finds out about Andrea Bowen, a former patient, and reads some worrying articles about the dark side of hypnotism. She goes to see Gina to voice her concerns. Gina does not buy it. She is team Meade all the way. 

Jenn believes that Collin could be using his hypnotherapy sessions nefariously. Gina, – team Meade! Rah! Rah! Rah! – thinks she is being ridiculous. Jenn shows her multiple articles addressing the same subject. Gina is a little more open to the possibility of something murky about her favourite doctor. 

They both go to see detective Wade Rollins (Dule Hill). Rollins worked on the case of Andrea Bowen. Jenn tells him that she has had strange happenings, believing they may be connected to her sessions with doctor Meade. Rollins tells them that he interviewed Meade. The investigation was halted shortly afterwards. 

He shows them the CCTV of Andrea Bowen freaking out in the lift. Not very professional. He advises that they stay away from Meade. They leave the detective’s office. 

Gina is worried. She had spoken about Jenn in her last session with Meade. She had also been hypnotised. 

Jenn decides to arrange a session with Meade, planning to record the session on her phone. 

His interest piqued by the visit from the two women, Rollins investigates similar deaths and finds that all the victims look similar. All were former patients of Meade and had undergone hypnotherapy.

After the session, Jenn is listening to the recording she made. Meade knows what she has done and that they were at the police station. Realising that Gina is in danger, she calls her friend. Gina is driving with Scott in the car. She is expecting a business call. Jenn calls trying to tell her that Meade knows they are looking at him. 

Jenn’s call cuts out. Gina receives another call. It is Meade. He tells her this is how the world ends. Gina falls into a trance. She believes a tarantula is crawling on her. Scott, the poor guy, has no idea what is happening. Gina, petrified by the tarantula, that only she can see, floors the accelerator. They get hit by a truck and killed. 

Rollins goes to see Meade. He tells him that Gina and Scott died in a car accident. She had been a patient of his. Had he given her any hypnotherapy sessions? Just one. Their last session. The doctor offers Rollins a hypnosis session. Rollins declines, pointing out that he only works his hypnotherapy on female clients. The doctor tells him he would make an exception. 

Rollins visits Jenn. He believes Gina’s death was caused by Meade. He is a detective after all. He leaves her with files on the other cases. There is another knock on the door. Jenn opens the door thinking it is Rollins. 

It is Meade. He causes Jenn to freeze with a hypnotic command. Yes, really. 

Meade proceeds to lay out his plans to her, wittering on like the crazy, control freak he is. He explains that all of his extreme acts are for her. Meade leaves. Jenn immediately rings Rollins and gets his voicemail. 

Rollins gets home and settles down for the evening. He hears a sound in his apartment. A knife-wielding Tabby attacks him. She slashes at him and when he disarms her, bites him. Rollins eventually overcomes her, killing her with a blow. 

Jenn visits him in the hospital the next day. She tells Rollins that she wants to get hypnotised by another therapist to perhaps help her recall what happens in sessions with Meade. She goes and sees doctor Stella Graham (Tanja Dixon-Warren). 

Dr Stella gives her a version of the ‘with great power come great responsibility’ speech, pointing out that hypnotherapy can be used for good or bad. Thank you, Sherlock. 

She tells her that she will put her under for a gentle session. Stella begins and asks Jenn about her sessions with Meade. Jenn begins choking. 

She recalls an address and fragments of memories with Meade. Stella snaps her out of the trance. Stella tells her that Meade planted some fail-safe suggestions in her mind to prevent the sort of thing that they were attempting. 

Stella is not confident that she can combat Meade’s auto-suggestions but she might be able to create a fail-safe override herself. Jenn decides to follow a memory after finding some research about an old CIA program that Meade’s supposed mentor was a part of. 

The program was a series of experiments exploring the possibility of planting false memories in peoples minds. 

Jenn tells Rollins that she going to the address, even as he advises against it. At the remote house – of course, it is remote – Jenn searches for doctor Sullivan. She sees a picture of a dark-haired woman hugging Meade. The woman looks like her. Meade startles her, standing behind her as he points out how beautiful his wife was. 

The house is his, left to him by his father, the now-deceased doctor Sullivan. Oops. Meade puts Jenn into a trance. 

Rollins, who had run some fingerprints from a spoon he had lifted from Meade’s office, gets the results. They are for a Julian Sullivan. That’s the same name as the other doctor! He tries to contact Jenn but gets her voicemail. Rollins gets out of his hospital bed. 

Jenn wakes up in the therapist office. She calls Rollins and tells him what he already knows; Meade is a Sullivan. Truthfully, Rollins should be embarrassed that it took four murders, – nope five, can’t forget Scott – for them to find Meade’s true identity, especially as he as in the system!

Jenn tells him that she is in Meade’s office. Rollins sends a SWAT team to the offices of Meade. Meanwhile, Meade is, once again, boring Jenn with his story and recounting the first time he saw her. 

Rollins is racing to the offices. The SWAT team are there already, preparing to enter the office. Meade wakes Jenn up. She is still in the house, the office scenario was all in her mind. 

Rollins is told that there is no one in the offices. Rollins gets the address of the Sullivan residence and races over there. In the Sullivan house, Jenn realises that Meade had planted memories he had with his deceased wife, Amy(Jessie Fraser), in her mind. Yeah, he did that. 

Meade has dressed up Jenn in the image of his deceased wife. She is unable to move due to his auto-suggestions. Rollins is racing to the house. Meade is still babbling sweet nothings and making plans for the future with the captive Jenn as Rollins enters the house. 

Meade hears him enter the house and leaves Jenn alone, forcing her to grip the bed frame. Rollins looks for Meade. Meade attacks him and they fight. Rollins loses his gun in the fight.

Jenn is struggling to break the trance that is keeping her in the bedroom. As they fight, Jenn breaks the trance and finds them. Meade is strangling Rollins. Rollins tells her to grab his gun. Meade shouts the sleep command and Jenn struggles to stay awake, picking up the gun. 

She points the gun at the fighting men and pulls the trigger. She wakes up with Rollins looking after her. He tells her it is all over and she is safe. he calls her ‘my love’. 

Doctor Stella had placed an auto-suggestion in her mind. It would let her see clearly if those words were uttered by Meade. Yes, she did! Jenn realises it is Meade, not Rollins. 

She escapes his grasp and finds Rollins. Meade pursues her, quickly finding her with Rollins. Rollins tells her has another gun in his ankle holster. Jenn kills Meade. 

One month later, Jenn is getting some sort of normality back in her life. Brian is still in a coma. She apologises to him for their relationship falling apart. She goes and sees Rollins. He has been promoted. She thanks him. Rollins gives her a hypnosis CD. What a comedian. The end. 

Final thoughts: directed by Matt Angel and Suzanne Coote and written by Richard D’Ovidio, Hypnotic is a good looking film and is competently directed. The script is quite good and almost makes up for the silly story. Almost. 

Mind control, hypnosis or remote possession has always been and will continue to be popular as a story element. The notion of being controlled by another is both the stuff of nightmares and dreams. 

Unfortunately, D’Ovidio’s story is too rushed, not allowing for any real buildup in tension. With a runtime of eighty-eight minutes, Hypnotic is not a long film but it is a little uneven. O’Mara’s Meade is the villain and fills the role comfortably but there is no subtlety in his villainy. 

Not that subtlety is necessary but the character and the speed at which he is accepted by the sceptical Jenn is not believable. The acting from all on show is good, with Lucie Guest particularly good as Gina, in a quite unforgiving role as the best friend. 

Unusually, the story, to its detriment, gives over almost half of its runtime to resolution. This affects the pacing and the emotional impact of the story, the set-up being too truncated for the viewer to care. 

Hypnotic is not a terrible film it is just a bit underwhelming. Hypnotic is watchable but by no means a must-watch. One you watch only if you watched all of your watchlist.

Fatale – review

Brief synopsis: a successful married sports agent’s life is thrown into turmoil after he has a one-night stand in Las Vegas. Returning home after his trip to Vegas, he gets assaulted in his home one night. The detective looking into his case turns out to be the same person he had a one-night stand with. 

Is it any good?: Fatale is too many stories rolled into one. It has elements of Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Strangers on a Train, plus a bit of The Fugitive thrown in to add to the confusion. I have watched telenovelas with fewer stories going on than in this film. Fatale is a confusing mess of a film with no story thread making sense. 

That Academy Award winner Hilary Swank and Golden Globe nominee Michael Ealy are in this, tells you more about the paucity of good roles in the present production landscape than anything else. 

Spoiler territory: sports agent Derrick (Michael Ealy) is hosting a small gathering with his wife, Tracie, (Damaris Lewis), a realtor, his business partner, Rafe (Mike Colter) and Rafe’s partner, Micaela (Kali Hawk). Everyone seems very relaxed except for Tracie, who is a little cold towards her husband. And snappy, definitely snappy. 

The next day, Derrick is going away to Las Vegas but he tells Tracie that he can cancel the trip as he wants to work on their relationship. She tells him not to. She does not mind if he goes. The ice is not thawing on her anytime soon. Derrick heads off. 

In Vegas, Derrick is worrying about his relationship and tells Rafe. Rafe, the best shady friend ever, tells him he needs to relax and enjoy Vegas. Rafe takes Derrick’s wedding ring off of him and tells him to go and enjoy himself. 

Derrick wanders over to the bar. Whilst at the bar he ogles a woman dancing. She comes to the bar and is immediately hit on by a guy (Johann Sebastian). She gives him short shrift, quickly rejecting his advances. 

She is more comfortable with Derrick and smiles at him, asking him why he is there. He tells her he is at a bachelor party. It is not his. He is not accustomed to chatting with women. He’s married. The woman continues to flirt with him. 

He asks her if she is with a group. No, she rolls alone. Derrick mentions the fact that he is married but the music is too loud and she does not hear him. He loses his nerve. Telling the truth can be particularly difficult for men when talking to beautiful women. 

She tells him her name is Val (Hilary Swank). Derrick lies – he’s all in now – telling her his name is Darren. He is not overly creative. She repeats his name back to him, whilst simultaneously giving him the crazy eyes. 

The two of them dance for a bit before retiring to her hotel room for some bedroom gymnastics. Derrick wakes up the next day and eases out of the bed. As he is getting dressed, Val wakes up. He is searching for his mobile phone. Val tells him it is in the hotel safe but she cannot remember the combination. 

Her memory could be jogged with an encore performance from him. After obliging, he gets his phone back. He returns home and guiltily watches his wife sleeping. Back at the office, Derrick is visited by his cousin, Tyrin (Tyrin Turner). Tyrin has come to pick up some money because Derrick is wealthy and looks after him with cash handouts. 

Rafe comes into the office. He does not like Tyrin and does not think Derrick should let him come to the office. He does not try to hide his disdain, mocking Tyrin’s height to his face. A little bit rude. Tyrin leaves the partners to a meeting. 

Rafe wants to sell the company to a bigger agency. They can make millions. Derrick does not want to sell, he has no desire to work for somebody else. Rafe, who wants to be rich and work less, keeps pushing the idea of selling. 

Back at home, Derrick cooks a meal for his frosty wife. He wants to rekindle their relationship. Tracie thaws a little at his efforts. He is rewarded with more bedroom antics. Whilst she is on top of him, she hears a noise in the house. Derrick goes to investigate. 

Derrick has armed himself with a golf club and looks around the house. He is attacked by an intruder from behind. The intruder has a gun but seems to want to beat him up rather than just shoot him. The two tussle around the kitchen, Derrick getting punched, kicked and smashed into furniture. Belatedly, the intruder tries to shoot him, having knocked him to the floor. 

Derrick hits him with the golf club and the intruder runs off. Tracie, who had been watching her husband taking a kicking, screams his name. Loudly. Derrick, for his part, advises her to do what she should have done in the first place and call the police. 

The police come and ask about the attack and the cameras around the property. Derrick tells them that the system does not work. What about the alarm? Tracie says she thought they put it on before going to bed. The officer says that a detective will take over their case. Derrick recognises the detective, Valerie Quilan. Val!

Derrick, who is understandably nervous, stutters as Val plays with him, asks him if she has met him before. Tracie helpfully interjects that he is a well-known sports agent. Val acknowledges that that is where she might have seen his face. She keeps up the mental pressure on Derrick, taking Tracie aside to look at the bedroom. 

In the bedroom, Val asks Tracie the frankly ludicrous question, which side of the bed does she sleep on. Tracie thinks the question is odd but answers it anyway. Val sits on the bed and caresses the sheets. She asks if anyone wants to harm her husband as nothing in the house had been stolen. Tracie does not think so. They return to the lounge. Derrick is still nervous, something Val takes joy in pointing out. Val leaves a card with her contact information. 

In the morning, Carter Heywood (Danny Pino) is wheeling his chair-bound daughter, Haley (Oakley Bull), to the car. His wife (Lexa Gluck) is already at the car. As Carter is putting Haley into the car, his wife indicates Val, doing her best Horatio Caine NCIS: Miami impression, is leaning on a car down the road. Carter approaches her. 

He tells her she cannot be there – cannot and should not are two different things. Semantics. She wants access to her daughter. Carter is not particularly empathic, telling her she lost any right to access due to her drunken antics. Val tells him she has not had a drink since the accident. Oh, you mean the accident that paralysed your daughter? All’s forgiven then. 

Carter is not in a forgiving mood and has no intention of being so in the future. He tells Val she will never be a mother to Haley again. Val remembers being passed out on the bed and rising up in a stupor to see her daughter playing with her service revolver moments before it went off. 

Derrick goes to the station to see Val. He wants to know if she is going to expose him and to apologise for misleading her and lying. She tells him he is a very convincing liar, having told her his name was Darren Johnson in Las Vegas. The fact that she made a hard play for him and they exchanged no information after their hook up has no impact on her indignation. He fooled her! 

Derrick returns to work and googles Val. he reads about her messy divorce from Carter. Returning home, Val is there speaking to Tracie. She tells them she just wanted to see the house in the day. Val leaves. Shortly afterwards, Tracie leaves to go and show a house. Derrick returns to the office. 

Rafe thinks that Tyrin might have been the person who arranged the break-in. Derrick tells him about Val. Val gets more information about the break-in. There was no forced entry, whoever broke into the house knew how to get in. Rafe tells Derrick he is heading to the gym and asks him if he wants to come. Derrick declines continuing to look into Val. 

He leaves the office a little later, Val drives up and tells him to get in the car. She has new information about the case. Couldn’t phone him then? okay…Derrick gets into the car and they head to the beach. Why he would follow her to the beach I do not know. 

As they walk along the beach, Val gives him a telescope and tells him to look into a specific house. He sees Rafe and Tracie together. What if he had decided to join Rafe in the gym? Threesome? Anyhoo, Derrick is crushed. Val tells him she had a notion that Tracie might be cheating on him. She leaves him on the beach. Hope he’s got the Uber app. 

Val goes to see Carter again to beg him to let her see Haley. Carter, a well connected political figure, smugly tells her that she has no chance of gaining custody. He is too well connected. Basically, he pokes the bear. 

Derrick is getting drunk at home and calls Val. She invites him over to her loft apartment. He is a brilliant driver, as he speeds over in his high powered sports car whilst the worse for drink. Val tells him that Rafe and Tracie are trying to kill him. He does not believe her. He is a lovesick fool. Val lays out the evidence for him. 

She tells him that they will try again. He needs to kill them first. Drunk and a little stupid, Derrick says that he feels he could in that moment. Val, who really enjoyed their coitus in Vegas, takes advantage of his emotional state to get a little more Derrick. He finishes and staggers off. 

Early the next morning, Derrick is woken by the police. He is taken to the police station. Val comes and sees him in the interview room. She asks him if he did it. She knows he did not but she is a crazy bitch. He has no idea what she is talking about. She shows him crime scene photographs. Rafe and Tracie are dead, murdered. 

Val brings up his colourful past, how his cousin Tyrin took the fall for him so as he could take up a basketball scholarship. Val continues to push the narrative of an emotional and angry Derrick going back to the beach house and killing Rafe and Tracie. They found his wedding ring at the scene. 

The press has a field day with Derrick being a suspect in the murder of his wife and business partner. Derrick goes to the office. Only the receptionist (Hajin Cho), is there. Obviously needs the job. He sends her home. The business, unsurprisingly, starts to lose clients. 

Val comes to see Derrick at his wife’s wake. He realises that she killed them. She tells him he is about to be indicted. She leaves him to the wake. Derrick speaks with his mother (Denise Dowse). She tells him that she will always be there for him until the day she dies. It’s not like she could be there for him afterwards. 

She carries on spouting not at all inspirational bollocks and telling him he will always have his name. Doesn’t really matter if your name is tarnished and dog shit does it. Derrick tells Tyrin about Val and how she is behind everything. Tyrin says he can deal with it. Derrick does not want him to get involved. Tyrin is not one for listening. 

Val creeps into Carter’s house and spies on her daughter sleeping. She looks in on Carter and his wife. No security at his home then. Tyrin goes to see his guy, Bumpy (Compton Menace). They both go to see Val. At home, Derrick is having a nightmare, seeing himself being drowned by Val. 

Val gets blindsided by Bumpy, getting smashed in the back of the head. He drags her in front of Tyrin. Tyrin wants to know why she is hassling Derrick. Val starts to hyperventilate and choke, crying and pleading. Tyrin tells Bumpy to take her to the bathroom. Dumb thugs that they are, Val gets hold of a shotgun she has hidden in the ceiling and kills them both. 

Val calls Derrick and tells him to meet her at the beach house. At the beach house, she tells him she killed Tyrin in self-defence – which is kind of true. Derrick scuffles with her and grabs her gun. Val tells him that they can blame Tyrin for the murders. Derrick is pointing the gun at her. Val keeps talking, moving forward. He shoots her twice but…they are blanks! Haha! 

Val pulls out her gun. It does not have blanks in it. The gun he used was the murder weapon – obviously – and now it has his prints on it. She wants him to kill Carter Heywood. If he does that, she will give him back the gun and pin the murders on his dead cousin. 

Derrick returns home. His options are not good. He goes to intercept Carter, pulling the gun on him and trying to tell him that his ex-wife, Val, is trying to frame him. Carter, a complete dickhead and egomaniac, decides to fight the man with the gun. He gets killed for his hubris. 

Derrick goes to Val’s loft. He tells her that he went to warn Carter but ended up killing him. No idea why he would tell her that, it’s not like she is the most compassionate person. He is also sure that she will want to kill him, to tie up any loose ends. Val, sweetheart that she is, tells him he is pathetic – nice – and that he better take the evidenced and leave. 

She then tries to shoot him in the back. In the back! Derrick, anticipating her duplicity, pulls a gun and returns fire. She wounds him but he shoots her twice, putting her down. He checks her, taking the gun out of her hand. He goes to leave the apartment. He looks back and she is gone. 

She attacks him with a kitchen knife, hacking at him like a maniac. He shoots her in the chest. Before she dies, Derrick reveals that he taped her confessing to all of the crimes. He is vindicated. The end. 

Final thoughts: Fatale is a mishmash of films, with no real central story. It was supposed to be about Swank’s Val desperation to get her daughter back but her Training Day approach to police work completely overshadows that. 

Ealy’s Derrick is gullible and easily manipulated by everybody, even if ultimately, doing so proves to be bad luck as all his manipulators end up dead. Val’s desire for a one night stand and then her offence at finding out that he is married was a little silly. Did she expect to see him again? Of course not. 

Lewis’ Tracie had too little involvement in the story for her embittered wife angle to work, especially as she seemed to be the one who was miffed even before he had his one-night stand. Colter’s Mike was pitched just about perfectly and worked for what the film was trying to do but the rest of the story did not match the strength of that character. 

Written by David Loughery and directed by Deon Taylor, the film does look good and is well edited. Loughery’s script is pretty flat, most of the actors sounding as though they are just saying lines. Which they are. 

Swank is pretty entertaining as the crazy Val and Colter is good as the greedy and duplicitous Rafe. Even Ealy does okay with the material he has. The acting is good from all on show, to tell the truth, but the script is so poor that most of the characters are either underwritten or unconvincing. 

With a runtime of one hundred and two minutes, Fatale is not a long film and potters through its runtime pretty comfortably. Worth a watch if you like either of the leads otherwise you could probably give it a miss.

Deadly Illusions

Brief synopsis: A semi-retired writer hires a nanny-cum-help to look after her children when a business deal her husband invested in goes bad and she feels forced to accept a lucrative deal from her publisher. She takes on a nanny to help with household chores and looking after her children.

Suffering from writer’s block, she is unsure whether her mind is playing tricks on her or if the nanny is too wonderful to be true. 

Is it any good?: Um, no, not really. With a standard made-for-tv-esque title, Deadly Illusions is lazy and uninspired. It also does not seem to know what kind of film it is supposed to be. With echoes of Shutter Island, Misery and every made-for-television thriller ever made, Deadly Illusions mistakes a meandering pace for tension, tacking on a bonkers ending that is as confusing and underwhelming as the rest of the film. 

Spoiler territory: picturesque family, semi-retired author, Mary (Kristin Davis), husband, Tom (Dermot Mulroney) and their twins, Sam (Shylo Molina) and Alex (Marie Wagenman), are having breakfast before Tom leaves to go and do an unspecified job and the twins head to school. 

Mary, alone in the house, makes a great show of getting dressed, matching her outfit, shoes, jewellery and even spectacles. All very professional. She has a meeting with her agent, Kioki (Shawn Wu), in her house. She got spruced up for a meeting in her own home and does not even fancy her agent! 

Kioki turns up at the home with his new associate, Darlene (Abella Bala), who it turns out is the backbone Kioki does not have. They want Mary to write a sequel to her bestseller. Mary is happy to let a ghostwriter do it and just collect the cheques. Kioki takes out a contract offer that he hopes she will be interested in. 

The publishing company is going through a difficult period and need Mary to come to their rescue. Right. Mary feels blindsided. Kioki mislead her. She does not want to write, regardless of the offer. Just keep sending the cheques! 

Mary shows them the door. Kioki, the suck-up, bids her farewell with a peck on the cheek and assures her the cheques will keep coming. The ballsy and, frankly, couldn’t-give-a-shit about Mary’s reputation Darlene, tells her, with a few choice words, that she should help the little people, considering that there was a time when she was a struggling writer. 

Mary, heartless superstar and above such things, suggests she should be fired. She doesn’t get her fired, so she is not that powerful. Later, the picture-perfect family are sitting down to dinner as Tom returns from work. 

He sees the contract from Mary’s meeting and asks her about it. The advance is substantial and Tom thinks she should consider it. Mary thinks they should have dinner. Later, Tom shows her he is still a stud between the sheets, satisfying her to such an extent that she has to have a cigar on the balcony post-coital. 

On the balcony, Tom’s true reasoning for his exemplary efforts comes to light. He made a bad deal six months before and wiped out half of their savings. Mary is pissed. He promised he would never do it again. He promised! Tom goes back to bed. 

The next day, Mary is at the gym with her best friend, Elaine (Shanola Hampton). She is telling her about the deal she has been offered. Elaine asks if she is going to take up the deal? Mary is not sure. She turns into a different person when she is writing. The Hulk? Mrs Hyde? 

Elaine tells her it can help her take her life in a different direction, to do stuff she wants to do – whatever the heck that means. Elaine tells her she needs a full-time sitter. What? Why? Her kids are at school during the day…anyhoo, Mary is not so sure. 

She did not spend thousands of dollars to have them – she is a little bit beyond child-rearing age so one assumes she is referring to IVF treatments, though she could be talking about buying them. It’s not clear. – so as someone else could bring them up. Elaine is insistent, giving her a battered business card, one would think she was getting a commission. 

Mary asks why she does not use them. Mary tells she cannot afford them and they only take on certain types of client. Elaine is a black woman, so that could be definitely interpreted as…classist? Anyhoo, broke-ass Elaine only works three days a week but if she worked full-time, she would use them. If they would take her. 

Elaine, saleswoman of the year, carries on pushing the notion of a sitter, telling Mary that the girls they recruit come from the best Ivy League schools and speak multiple languages. Sounds all-white – sorry – alright to me! Mary is sold.

Mary goes to the highly recommended – by Elaine – Huntsman Enterprises services and meets Angela (Ellen Humphreys), the owner of the business. Angela carries on the sales pitch, assuring Mary of the quality of her charges and their services. She offers to send over some potential candidates. Mary agrees. 

The next day, Mary interviews a slew of unsuitable candidates. If all of these girls are supposedly of high calibre, one shudders to think what the average nanny must be like. Mary contacts Tom to bemoan the quality of the interviewees. He thinks she might be being a little too picky but also, remembering that all of this shit is his fault, butters her up a bit, telling her she is the best mother and it would be impossible to replace her. 

Mary ends the call because she sees another girl arriving on a bicycle. Looking like a cross between a schoolgirl and bible student, with an above the knee A-line skirt, pop socks and pumps, Grace (Greer Grammer), sits reading as Mary prepares tea. Just a thought – did she prepare tea for every interviewee? That is a lot of tea! 

Mary and Grace bond over her love of books. Though Grace loves books, she has no idea who Mary is. Mary gets a call and excuses herself. Whilst she is on the phone, the children return from school. They are arguing. Grace pacifies them by telling them a story based on a drawing Sam has done. The drawing is kind of crappy. 

Mary ends her call and sends the children off to play as she concludes her meeting with Grace. Grace picks up another book and remarks about how she would borrow it if she saw it in a library. Mary says she thinks that she has another book that she would really like and takes her to another room.

Grace belatedly notices that Mary is quite an accomplished writer herself and is suitably overcome with the thought of being in the house of a famous author. Mary’s ego soothed by the recognition and fawning, immediately employs her, telling her she can start next week. Grace is giddy with happiness at being employed. Oh, to be young again…

The next week, Grace is looking after the children and some other random kid who I think is meant to be Elaine’s child but he looks Latin-American. Maybe he’s adopted? The kids want to go swimming and excitedly ask if they can. Grace says she will look after them. Mary tells Grace she can borrow one of her swimsuits. The pool, by the by, is in the back garden. Not so much going swimming as…swimming. 

By the pool, Elaine and Mary are cleaning…windows, yes, really, whilst Grace frolics in the pool with the children. Elaine notes the youthful Grace’s figure in the swimsuit. Mary, an attractive woman but in this harsh world, the wrong side of forty-five, dismisses Elaine’s comments. Tom returns from work and introduces himself to Grace, who is now smuggling peanuts in her swimsuit. 

Later, as Grace looks after the children, Tom takes advantage of her presence to grab a little naughty time with his spouse in the larder. Tom is a beast! 

As Grace puts the children to bed, Tom prepares dinner. He invites her to join them for dinner as she is leaving but Grace tells them that she thinks dinner is family time and leaves. 

The next day, Grace brings Mary tea – you would think this film was British with the amount of tea that gets served – she is still dressed like a naughty schoolgirl-cum-bible student. Mary turns her attention to writing. In the kitchen, Grace hears a crash and Mary screams out. She has broken a glass and cut her foot in the bathroom.

Grace takes care of her foot, putting a plaster on it. It is a supremely awkward watch. Mary, suffering from writer’s block after looking at a blank page for thirty seconds and slightly discombobulated by a glimpse of Grace’s raggedy bra, decides to take her shopping, because one would. They go shopping for bras. 

As Grace tries on different bras, Mary remarks on the perkiness of her breast and Grace espouses the fact that anyone would want bigger breasts. She places Mary’s hand on her breast. The store assistant pops her head into the changing room and disrupts the moment. Thank god! The two women return home with bags of clothing for Grace. Mary also tells her she can look at her old clothing. Very generous. 

After ogling Grace’s youthful body all day, Mary asks Tom if he thinks she should get plastic surgery. Tom, a man who has obviously played the Russian roulette of stupid questions that women ask, avoids the subject like a champ. The two begin to get amorous but are interrupted by the now ever-present Grace. 

It is the next day, Mary is still struggling with writer’s block. She lights a cigar and goes for a walk around her garden and pool area. She daydreams about Grace. Later in the day, she is having a meeting with suck up Kioki, Darlene the bitch and some other suit who remains nameless. They all have ideas about what direction the book should be heading in. Mary daydreams about Grace being provocative. 

The nameless suit guy yammers on about exploring darkness and taking the book in a new direction. Could they not have told the same shit to a ghostwriter? Mary meets up with Elaine at the gym. Elaine, who it turns out is her therapist, listens as she tells her about her feelings towards Grace. Elaine, possibly the world’s worst therapist, tells her to use her as her muse. 

Mary returns home and suggests to Tom they go out to dinner. The only problem is they did not book a sitter. Grace, of course, offers to stay late and look after the children. Tom and Mary go out. They meet up with Elaine and her partner, Rick (Cajardo Lindsey) at a charity dinner. Rick asks about the book. Mary tells him that she is having a hard time writing it.

He mentions that the fourth book in the series was his favourite, something Mary acknowledges is common amongst the readership. The only problem is she wrote it at a very dark time in her life and now her life is sunshine and roses. Rick, ignoring everything she has just told him, tells her she needs to lean into the darkness more. Everyone’s a writer and critic it seems…

Around the pool, Mary is writing and getting some sun. Ever the bringer of tea, Grace comes with a tray laden with the magical brew. Mary asks her to put some suncream on her back. Moments after Grace has put cream on her back – at her request – Mary jumps in the pool! How rude! Naked in the pool, Mary invites Grace to join her. 

After their tomfoolery by the pool, Mary takes them both into the house and gives the girl, who she has looking after her children, a drink whilst the two jump around to some pop-rock music. Mary falls asleep and awakens with dreams of Grace sucking her breast. 

Grace goes to a musical recital with the family. Mary takes her aside and tells her that they cannot repeat the antics of their day by the pool. Grace does not know what she is talking about. Mary takes her ignorance as understanding and says no more. Mary has a bath and another vivid dream. She imagines Grace pleasuring her in the bath. 

The next day, Mary is writing furiously, her writer’s block lifted. Grace and Tom keep the children occupied so as she can work. Tom takes the kids to school and Grace out for a bite to eat. Elaine sees him with Grace. At a diner, Grace surprises Tom with a different facet of her personality, mysterious and a little seductive. 

Back in the house, Mary is smoking a cigar. Grace dances in the car as Tom drives them back. Another day rolls around, Mary decides to take Grace out on a bike ride to celebrate completing her first draft. The two find a quiet spot by a lake and eat lunch. Mary reads poetry to Grace. Grace caresses her leg. 

The two kiss passionately but Mary stops them from going further. They return home and Elaine is with Tom waiting. She takes Mary aside and asks if their love life is okay. She does not trust Grace. Mary accuses Elaine of wanting Tom. A bit out of left field but okay…Elaine rightly tells her she is being ridiculous. 

Grace and Mary are in the kitchen together. Mary tells her that her wedding anniversary is coming up. Grace tries to seduce her. As she is about to succumb, they are interrupted by the rest of the family. Mary, lightheaded from Grace’s advances, takes to her bed. She wakes up some time late and makes her way down to the kitchen. 

She sees Tom and Grace enjoying a perverse sex game. Mary collapses. She wakes later and comes to find Tom preparing dinner. Grace joins them at the table. Mary asks Grace why she is there and tells them what she saw. Sam, the little twerp, says mommy is scaring him. Later, Mary has a meltdown, accusing Tom of destroying their lives. Tom apologises. I have no idea what they are going on about. 

Mary calls the agency to ask about payment. They tell her she never employed anybody. Grace is pottering about the house. Mary decides to find out more about Grace, finding out her full name by going to the library she uses. So she employed a woman without knowing her full name or anything else about her. Mother of the year right there. 

Mary goes to see Elaine. Elaine has been killed with a scissors in her neck. She is the only major black character and she dies! I mean….! Mary calls the police and is held as the prime suspect, all evidence pointing to her somehow. Fingerprints on the scissors, random woman filmed walking into the office building, her book notes…yeah, it’s flimsy and bollocks. 

Tom turns up with their lawyer. He gets her out but he wants to know where she disappeared to for three hours the night Elaine was killed. Mary is perplexed. She thinks she was gone for minutes – none of this is shown in the film by the way. Mary sneaks out of THE POLICE STATION and heads to an address she found somehow – the film is really falling apart now. 

Mary goes to an old house where Grace grew up. The woman in the house, aunty Lotty (Melissa Chambers), tells Mary about Grace’s dark past. Lotty has a split personality, speaking with two distinct voices. No idea why. Grace grew up in a large family with many siblings all of whom were treated horribly by their parents. 

Mary imagines how Grace, overhearing her and Elaine’s conversation at the gym, might have tricked her way into her life. Back at her house, Tom is taking a shower. Grace, dressed like a dominatrix, grabs a kitchen knife and confronts him in the bathroom. Tom tells her he does not want to play their sex games anymore and throws a flower pot at her. 

He misses and gets sliced across the stomach for his troubles, he tries to fight her off and suffers many more cuts for his efforts. Mary returns home and calls to him. Hearing Mary, Grace runs from the bathroom and changes faster than Christopher Reeves’ Superman back into her schoolgirl-cum-bible student get up. Mary finds Tom whining and apologising in a bloody heap in the shower.

Grace comes into the bathroom and starts clearing up the blood. Mary tells her to call 911 and asks what happened. Grace says she tried to stop her. Who? Grace turns into Margaret, a homicidal maniac. Grace tells Mary to run. Margaret pursues her. They fight in the kitchen. Grace talks to her alter-ego, Margaret, telling her she would never have survived without her. 

Mary hits her with a vase. A semi-conscious Grace cries. A year later, Mary is in a good place again with her family. She goes and visits Elaine’s grave and then onto see Grace in a mental institution. Grace is overjoyed to see her. A woman leaves the hospital, her identity disguised by a scarf and sunglasses. The end. 

Final thoughts: Deadly Illusions is confusing nonsense. Written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James, the film is even more wretched on a second viewing. With a runtime of nearly two hours, the film spends most of its runtime building to the highly underwhelming conclusion. 

The actors are fine, considering the material but I can only think they read a different script or filmed a different one and are as confused by the finished product as the rest of us. It as though the film was stuck between two ideas and could not commit to either. 

Davis’ Mary is apparently affected by her writing process but we never see it or even get enough exposition to explain how it might manifest. Grammer’s Grace came from a large family and was mistreated but so what? The split personality is seemingly explained in a piss poor scene, flashback, to her childhood, when her ‘Margaret’ persona saved her. 

There was no rhyme or reason given for Grace’s attachment to Mary or why she would pursue a job in childcare. Mulroney’s Tom succumbing to Grace’s youthful charms was a story as old as time and even though it made very little sense in the context of the story, it could easily be overlooked. 

Mary’s sudden lusting for the nubile Grace felt like bandwagon jumping, shoeing in a lesbian element just for the sake of modernity. Admittedly, their relationship in the film was closer than that of Tom and Grace but the sexual side, with both characters seemingly actively pursuing it, made no sense. 

The film did look good and was edited competently. Musically, it was just a standard foreboding soundtrack, the only break being for the rock-pop interludes that added nothing extra to the film. Deadly Illusions is an over thought out, underwhelming mess of a film and not worth nearly two hours of your time. Give it a miss.

Inheritance – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: When a wealthy and powerful man dies of a heart attack, he leaves his estranged daughter a strange inheritance and burden. She struggles as she searches for the truth behind the unusual inheritance whilst wanting to protect the family name. 

Is it any good?: Inheritance is okay and has an interesting premise. Lily Collins though seems miscast, playing the district attorney, Lauren Monroe, but looking like a schoolgirl playing dress up, even if she is in her thirties in reality. She does manage to mostly overcome her looks with a, for the most part, credible performance. 

Simon Pegg is good as the jailed/kidnapped Morgan Warner, mixing elements of Hopkins’ Lecter into his performance. Inheritance holds ones attention, as the story and acting are strong for the majority of its runtime of one hundred and ten minutes. Unfortunately, it falls down a little towards the end with a rushed conclusion and slightly underwhelming ending. 

Spoiler territory: Lauren Monroe (Collins) is out for a run. She is remembering being told of her father’s, Archer (Patrick Warburton), death during a press conference. He died of a heart attack whilst driving near their summer house. She is a district attorney and very good at her job.

She has a reputation for fighting for justice and fairness. Her younger brother, William (Chace Crawford), is running for congress. She is asked about rumours of him bribing the unions for votes. She flatly denies them. 

After the funeral, the wake is at the summer house. Brother and sister discuss what to do about their mother, Catherine (Connie Nielsen). William says they should get her an apartment so as she can live closer to them.

Lauren goes and looks around her father’s old office. There are no pictures of her only her brother. She remembers him talking to her whilst they played a game of chess, telling her that she had to plan and be successful. 

The family lawyer, Harold Thewlis (Michael Beach), reads the will. The bulk of his assets he leaves to his wife, Catherine. William is left twenty million dollars. He leaves fifty million dollars to be divided between charity’s and institutions. He leaves Lauren one million dollars. 

Catherine thanks Harold and dismisses him. She leaves, going for a walk. Lauren talks to Harold, thanking him for being there, as she knew that he was close to her father. 

Harold tells her that her father did leave something else. It was for her eyes only. He gives her an envelope. In the envelope are a USB stick and a key. On the USB is a short video. 

The video is a short message from her father. Something is buried but he never found the courage to tell her. It is near the old fort. She must take the secret of what she finds to her grave. 

A somewhat discombobulated Lauren leaves the house and goes walking. Her husband, Scott (Marque Richardson), calls after her, wanting to check she is okay. She tells him she is. 

Lauren heads to the old fort. She finds a door in the grounds where she used to play as a child. She has a memory of her father (Josh Murray – young Archer), telling her that part of the grounds was off-limits. The key he left for her opens the door. It is a door to an underground bunker. 

Lauren makes her way into the bunker. In the bunker, along a long corridor, she finds a dishevelled man chained up. He is not moving. She touches him and he comes to life, exhaling loudly. A startled Lauren runs out of the bunker and returns to the summer house. She calls the emergency services but ends the call when it connects. 

Lauren asks her mother if her father had any enemies who could destroy the family. Catherine tells her she does not have to worry about that. Later, Lauren’s husband takes their daughter, Claire (Mariyah Francis), home. Lauren stays at the summer house with the remaining guest of the wake. 

Later, Lauren returns to bunker. She sees the man lying on a bunk and calls to him. Receiving no response and seeing no movement, she takes his fingerprints. 

He opens his eyes. Freaked out once again, Lauren tries to hide her face. She runs out of the room. She returns a while later, wearing a mask. The man is standing now. 

She asks him who he is. He tells her that his name is John Doe. He wants to know where Archer is. He also tells her he knows who she is and all about her so there is no need for her to wear a mask. 

Lauren removes the mask. She still wants to know why he is there. He gives her a list of foods that he is craving. He also wants some cigarettes and a newspaper. 

She emails the fingerprints to a detective, Sanchez (Joe Herrera), as tells him she needs to know who they belong to urgently. She gets all of the foods and items bunker Joe has requested. She gets a call from Scott. She lies to him telling him she is about to go into court as she goes to see bunker Joe. 

She gives bunker Joe the food and other items and leaves. She calls her legal partner, Eddie (Lucas Alexander Ayoub), to tell him she is running late and he will have to begin the trial without her. She returns to the bunker. 

She gives bunker Joe a bar of chocolate. He gets a little emotional and tells her that her father used to give him a square of chocolate once a year and then put the rest of the bar on a shelf out of reach just to taunt him. He tells her his name is Morgan Warner. 

Morgan tells her how he met her father when they were both young and how they used to hang out together drinking, gambling and womanising. 

He tells her that when driving back to the city from the summer house, Archer ran someone over and killed them. Archer was so worried about losing his career, he buried the body. 

Morgan wanted to call the police but Archer knocked him unconscious and put him in the bunker. Lauren asked why did her father not just kill him. 

Morgan tells her he enjoyed torturing him. Lauren says her father cannot defend himself, why should she believe him? He tells her that her father had a mistress, Sofia Fiore (Christina DeRosa). He gives Lauren her address. 

Lauren leaves and asks Sanchez to check out for a missing person from the eighties; Morgan Warner. Lauren turns up at her court case. In the bunker, Morgan recites the ingredients of Key Lime pie as he exercises. 

Lauren goes and meets Sofia. She sees she has a son; Archer’s son, her half-brother. Sofia tells her that he does not know that she exist or that he is connected to the Monroe family. 

Lauren goes to see Harold. She wants to know why he never told them about Sofia. He tells her he was her father’s lawyer. Lauren wants to know if her father has any other skeletons. 

He tells her that there is not anything she has to worry about. She asks him about Morgan Warner. Harold does not know the name. 

Lauren goes to see her mother. She asks her about Morgan Warner. Her mother does not know the name. William asks Lauren to help his campaign, to show her face. She agrees to help him. She asks him if he knows anything about bribing the unions. He says he did not. She returns to the bunker to talk with Morgan. 

Morgan tells her he knows everything about her father’s life. He would talk to him about everything. Lauren asks about the body. Morgan tells her to dig it up. 

He says he will show her where the body is buried. Lauren has reservations but her curiosity gets the better of her. She takes the chain collar off of him. 

Gun in hand, she gets him to take her to the burial site. A worried Scott calls her. He has not heard from her all day. She apologises. Morgan takes her to the burial site. She digs and finds the skeleton of the body. A panicked Lauren covers the skeleton back up and takes Morgan back to the bunker. 

She forces him to put the collar back on. Morgan says that if she lets him go, he will disappear and not harm her family. She goes back to the summer house and wrestles with the conundrum of what to do about Morgan. 

She goes home to her family. The next day, she heads to court. Listening to the radio on the drive, allegations of her brother bribing the unions are still being made. 

In court, Lauren notices a company name that she recognises. She realises that the case she is fighting a conflict of interest. She goes to see Harold. He tells her to stop asking questions. She goes to see her brother. She asks if he would pay someone to protect the family. He tells her he would do whatever it takes to protect the family. 

Lauren returns to Morgan. She wants to know how she can be sure that he will disappear. He tells her that he only wants to be free. He gives her his word. She tells him to clean up. She plans to release him that night.

She tells Harold to set up a Caymans account and transfer the inheritance money into it. She also wants one hundred thousand dollars in cash. 

She returns to the bunker. He tells her that William took campaign bribes. She does not believe him. Morgan tells to ask about Jeffrey Shultz. She goes to see her brother and realises that he did bribe the unions. 

She wants to know why he did not tell her. William explains that he could not tell her because of her position. He also intimates that it was their father’s same shady dealings that got her the position of district attorney. 

She returns to the bunker and picks up Morgan. She takes him to an airstrip and they meet Harold. Harold gives him a suitcase of money and an envelope with a new identity. Lauren warns him that if he ever returns, or speak up, she will bury him. Morgan gets on the plane. 

Lauren returns to the bunker and begins to clean it up. Sanchez finds Morgan Warner’s details. He leaves a message on Lauren’s phone, telling her he is sending the information to the house. 

Catherine arrives at the summer house to see her daughter. She sees the files that Sanchez sent. 

She wants to know why she has pictures of Carson. Lauren tells her that it is Morgan. Her mother tells her she is wrong. His name is Carson and he is bad news. 

Where is he? Lauren tells her mother she let him go. Lauren races back to the airstrip and finds Harold dead. She returns to the summer house. Her mother is gone. She heads to the bunker. Catherine is there, on the bunker floor. Morgan/Carson switches the lights off. He taunts her in the dark and attacks her. 

Knocking her unconscious, he chains her up in the bunker. He tells Lauren that he poisoned Archer with rat poison. He knew she would release him if he played on her emotions. 

Morgan/Carson pulls Catherine off the floor and sits her down. He tells Lauren about the night he forced himself on Catherine. Archer punched him and put him in the car. On the drive, they hit a student, the real Morgan Warner. Morgan/Carson broke the injured student’s neck. 

He had planned to blackmail Archer, knowing that he would not want the story of the accident to come out.

Archer had knocked him unconscious and put him in the bunker. Over the years, Archer had treated him more like a pet, telling everything about his life. Morgan/Carson tells Lauren and Catherine that he is going to kill the entire family. Lauren attacks him and scratches his face.

Morgan/Carson shoves her against the wall and tells her he is her father. Catherine shoots him dead. She tells Lauren that she is a Monroe. They burn the bunker with Morgan/Carson in it. The end. 

Final thoughts: Inheritance is an okay-ish thriller let down by a silly end and unnecessary complexity. The acting is quite good from all involved but it is only Collins and Pegg who have any heavy lifting to do story-wise.

Like the far superior The Silence Of The Lambs, Inheritance tries to play a cat-and-mouse game between the captive Morgan/Carson and his reluctant jailer Lauren. As I said, the performances of the two central actors help in keeping one engaged but there is just too much going on elsewhere. 

Directed by Vaughn Stein and written by Matthew Kennedy, Inheritance tries a little too hard outside of the central story, with Crawford’s William running for congress and the ongoing court case being too muddle and vague to care about. 

The pacing of the film was quite good up until the rushed ending, with Pegg’s Morgan/Carson giving out a massive amount of expository dialogue. There was also obvious things that irked, such as Morgan/Carson not simply overpowering the obviously scared Lauren on the multiple occasions he had the opportunity to do so. 

Though Collins was good and even managed to mostly overcome her schoolgirl looks, her being a district attorney, especially one that seemed to have very little control of her emotions, challenged belief in the character. 

Pegg, who had been great up until the final third, turns from a cunning antagonist into a Joker pastiche. Inheritance is not the worst thriller on Netflix and is watchable but it is a little disappointing given the promising premise. 

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.

Fatal Deceit – review (Netflix)

Brief synopsis: After a woman splits from her estranged husband, he is reported killed in a car accident. Their daughter, who blames the mother not only for the split but also for her father’s death, pulls away from her, becoming reclusive. When a new neighbour helps to bring the daughter out of her shell, the woman lets her daughter go on a camping trip with the neighbour. The daughter disappears. 

Is it any good?: Fatal Deceit – also known as ‘Gaslit’ and the wordier ‘Is My Daughter Really Dead?’ – is a passable television movie that starts weakly, improves as it goes along and then turns to crap at the end. As is ever the case with many of these television movies, the characters do inexplicably stupid things and make stupid decisions. 

Admittedly, that is half the fun but the sheer unnecessary complexity of this film will have you rolling your eyes and wondering just why anyone would think like this. 

Spoiler territory: Gallery owner, Olivia (Zoe McLellan) kicks out her estranged husband, Layne (Matthew Pohlkamp) because of his infidelity. Their daughter, Hannah (Stevie Lynn Jones), a teenager in her mid-twenties, comes in just as her father is leaving.

They have not told her because she is too mentally fragile. What the mother had planned to tell her God only knows. She does not want her father to leave. Olivia, heartless bitch, insists on him leaving. Layne bids farewell to a tearful Hannah. 

Both artists, mother and daughter are in the garden painting. Hannah is still resentful that her mother kicked her father out. Olivia, the evil witch, comments on the improving techniques of Hannah’s strokes. Police detective, Bruce (Chris Dougherty) comes to the house. He has some bad news. Layne has been killed in a car accident. 

A few days later, Olivia is preparing for the opening of her new gallery, life goes on after all, when an old friend, Jack (Mike Erwin) comes to see her. Jack is an artist and disappeared for a while. He needed a break. Well, that clears that up. She is happy to see him. She tells him what has been happening in her life and how Layne has recently died. Hannah blames her for his death. 

Jack is sympathetic but is looking for a place to stay. Olivia, who is glad Layne is dead but too discreet to say it, says he can stay in the gallery. Jack says that maybe he can help Hannah get over her trauma with some painting lessons, to help express her emotions through painting and such bollocks.

Olivia thanks him for this, frankly, ludicrous suggestion and says she will call him to set something up. That’s it just hand your daughter over to the dodgy artist.

Jack is not finished taking advantage of the situation and asks if he can display some of his art pieces in the gallery. Milf doormat Olivia happily obliges. Returning home, Olivia meets new neighbour, Mary (Stephanie Charles). 

Mary and her daughter, Sydney (Ryan Madison) have just moved from Seattle. Olivia remarks on how she also had moved from Seattle a few months earlier. So no alarm bells then? Nothing? Okay. 

Sydney comes out to help her mother and is introduced to Olivia. Sydney cannot get in through the back door. Mary tells her there is a key under the mat. Olivia goes home to her morose daughter. Hannah is looking at a newspaper clipping of the report on her father’s accident.

She asks if it’s possible, that it was not her father, as the body was burnt beyond recognition. Olivia, a person who never pays attention to signs, say no. 

She asks Hannah why she missed her therapy appointment with Lisa (Samantha Colburn) and suggest it might help with processing her grief. She changes tacked and tells her Jack has returned. 

Hannah perks up a bit to just miserable. Olivia immediately sells the idea of her seeing Jack. Hannah is more open to that idea. Surprise. 

As mother and daughter paint in the soon-to-be-open gallery, Gretchen (Briana Cuoco), the caterer for the opening, comes in and gives her an invoice for her services. She greets both Olivia and her daughter. 

Olivia returns home where neighbour Mary, who has on far too much makeup for gardening, calls to her. Olivia invites her for coffee. Over coffee, blabbermouth Olivia tells Mary everything that is going on in her life. She also tells her that Layne had been jealous of her relationship with Jack, accusing her of having an affair. 

Mary tells her that she and her daughter are going camping that coming weekend. She invites Olivia because one always invites strangers to join you for a camping trip of all things. 

Olivia is alone and waits anxiously for Hannah to return home. It is daytime. Hannah comes in and tells her she was next door – those neighbours are really friendly – chatting with Sydney. She missed her meeting with Jack. 

Hannah wants to go camping with the neighbours. Olivia has something close to an alarm bell moment but lets Hannah go camping with the random neighbours after she makes the argument that Sydney is the only friend she has made since moving. 

The next morning, Olivia gets up and sees Hannah off. Olivia heads to the gallery and chats with Jack. She tries to call Hannah but has no joy. Olivia does not hear from her all weekend. The neighbours return and she goes to meet Hannah. Hannah is not with them. Mary tells her that Hannah never came with them. 

Olivia tells Mary that Sydney invited her. Mary tells her that Sydney was away visiting her father in Seattle. Olivia goes to the gallery and searches for Hannah frantically, screaming at Jack. 

He tells her they should call the police and go and talk to the neighbours. He says ‘we’ but leaves her to run off like a crazy woman to go and confront the neighbour alone. 

Olivia sneaks into Mary’s house – key under the mat remember – and is, unsurprisingly, confronted by Mary. Mary tells her that they never met Hannah. 

Sydney comes out and backs her mother’s story. Olivia is convinced that she is lying. Mary, a black woman, remains remarkably calm considering a crazy woman has broken into her house. Olivia calls Bruce. 

Bruce comes over immediately. Olivia tells him that Hannah has disappeared and everything that has happened. Bruce goes to see the neighbour and returns. 

She told him the same thing; she has not seen Hannah. Bruce tells Olivia he is taking her to the police station. He tells her to put a coat on because is cold. 

He takes her to see Lisa. Lisa is a therapist and a redhead. Red flags right there. Lisa welcomes Olivia and tells her she missed her last appointment. Olivia starts to rage, telling Lisa that no one is helping her to find her daughter. Lisa tells her that her daughter is dead. She died in the crash that killed Layne. 

Lisa tells her that she needs to shock her back into reality. Olivia sticks to her story of having seen Hannah before the weekend. Bruce comes into the therapy room and supports the doctor’s story. They take a traumatised Olivia back home. 

Lisa takes her into the house. Lisa turns up the heat in the house. She gives her hot tea. She all also tells her she might be suffering from disassociation due to grief. Lisa keeps on reinforcing the death of Hannah. Olivia breaks down.

Olivia wakes up the next day to find Mary cooking breakfast for her. Of course, that makes sense, cook breakfast for the crazy woman who broke into your home and ranted at you. They sit and eat breakfast. Well, Mary does. Olivia stares around the room. 

She notices the two paintings she and Hannah had been working on and runs to get her mobile phone. Hannah had sent her a photo of her painting. The message is gone. Mary is about to leave as a package arrives. It is two urns.

They are Layne and Hannah’s ashes. Olivia rushes out of the house. She goes to see Jack and tells him about the urns. She tells Jack about the entire episode since being told that Hannah was dead. Genius Jack immediately thinks something is fishy. 

Bruce asks Lisa how long will it take to convince Olivia of the scenario she has been given. Lisa is not sure. Bruce says they have to do it for Layne. Jack tells Olivia he moved away because he did have feelings for her and did not want to harm her marriage. Not that dopey Olivia would have noticed. 

Bruce gives Mary some documents to give to Olivia. Olivia tells Jack that Layne died on the day she kicked him out of the house. Genius Jack pontificates that Hannah might be alive! No! Did anybody see her body? Of course not. Olivia is off running again. 

She goes to find Gretchen and accosts her in a car park. She asks her if she remembers meeting Hannah. Gretchen says she vaguely remembers meeting her. Olivia asks her to come and tell the police. 

Gretchen tells her that she will meet her after she has taken care of some work. Olivia leaves. Gretchen is immediately stabbed to death by an unknown assailant. Bad day. Olivia tells Bruce about Gretchen and how she met Hannah. 

Olivia gets a text from Gretchen’s phone. She is not coming. Obvs. Bruce tells her she needs to rest. He puts a cardigan on her. She needs to keep warm. Bruce leaves and calls someone. 

Mary comes over and gives Olivia the death certificates and a news article that details their deaths. Olivia recognises the articles banner. It is the same as the one Hannah had. Haha! 

Olivia calls Jack. No idea why. She is convinced that Hannah is still alive. Mary tells her she is going to turn the heat up. Lisa and Bruce come to visit. Olivia pretends that she has accepted Hannah’s death. 

They leave. Mary asks what she plans to do. She says she is going to save her daughter. She thinks she is at the cabin that Layne was heading to when he died. Mary says she will go with her. 

At the cabin, a perfectly, not dead, Layne is chopping wood. Hannah is with him and marvels at the fact that he is still alive. She thinks he should tell her mother. Layne says it is not a good idea. 

Olivia believes Layne had planned it all along. Mary lets slip that Bruce and Layne were like brothers. Hannah, who is far more inquisitive than her mother, starts asking Layne about the accident and how he is alive. 

Olivia, whose alarm bells have finally started ringing, asks Mary how she knew Layne and Bruce were close. Mary tries to distract her, turning the heat up in the car.

Sydney goes to the gallery and talks to Jack. She thinks something bad is going to happen. She tells him that Hannah is alive. Why she would go to Jack, a perfect stranger, is anybody’s guess. 

Mary pulls over and calls…Layne! Gasp! Sydney tells Jack that Bruce helped cover up everything and her mother told her to keep her trap shut. Her mum will not be happy then. Both mother and daughter get suspicious of the phone calls. Mary tells Layne that Olivia knows but she will take care of it. 

Layne tries to tell Hannah that her mother had an accident but Hannah is not a moron and does not believe him. She runs off. Olivia, the confusion clearing, tells Mary that she realises that they are all in on the ruse. Mary, embracing the full crazy black woman trope, tells Olivia that they were trying to drive her crazy, hence the heat and misinformation to break her. 

It was Lisa’s plan. Mary, having confessed, puts on her leather jacket and retrieves her massive kitchen knife from the boot. These are her killing tools. When she kills Olivia, she can marry Layne.

Olivia sees Gretchen dead in the boot. She starts running. Mary gives chase. All four of them are running around the woods. Hannah runs into her mother. 

Mary grabs Hannah and threatens to kill her. Layne tries to calm her down. Bruce and Lisa turn up. Bruce pulls his gun and tells Mary to put her knife down. Layne is still trying to talk her into not killing Hannah. He gets between Mary and Hannah. 

Mary, who is full homicidal maniac crazy now, wants to kill Hannah. Bruce shoots as Mary lunges at Hannah. He kills Layne and Mary. Jack and Sydney never arrive so….I don’t know what to tell you.

Anyhoo, four months later mother and daughter are painting again. Hannah can crack a smile now and she tells Olivia that Sydney moved back to Seattle. 

Bruce and Lisa got arrested and incarcerated. The gallery opens and Jack’s work is popular. He is clean-shaven now – he had a beard – and they kiss. The end 

Final thoughts: Fatal Deceit is harmless hokum and nowhere near as smart as it would like to be. The acting is good not great and perfectly acceptable for a television movie. 

Written by Colin Edward Lawerence and Erin Murphy West and directed by Lawerence, Fatal Deceit is competently directed and Lawerence even employs a bit of flair as he invokes Olivia’s diminishing mental state. The story is built on extreme contrivance and coincidence.

Why Lisa would risk jail time to help Layne is never explained and Bruce’s relationship with him is hastily explained in two lines. Mary being a ‘crazy-black-woman’ was not as offensive as it normally is as the premise for the film is so outlandish that her craziness worked in the context of the film.

The end is so bad it felt as though they were told that hey had to wrap up the film before it hit the ninety-minute mark, the film running at eighty-four minutes. 

Not that any of that matters, Fatal Deceit is nonsense and convoluted nonsense at that. Unless you are a fan of television movies, you can and should probably give this one a miss.