Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Someone is Watching

Boy oh boy! A Lifetime horror movie! This is promising.

Someone is Watching opens with a costume party. The hosts announce that they're engaged. As the scene is inter cut with the opening credits, we see someone (presumably the male fiancee, but that would be too easy) attack the lady fiancee, throw her down some stairs, and then murder her with a fire poker. We flash forward to the kindly old landlord washing the blood out and repainting the walls. A year later, DNA scientist (yes, really) and single mom Michelle moves into the home with her six-year-old son.

For what it's worth, Michelle looks eerily like the murder victim.

Michelle has a controlling and angry ex-boyfriend named Charles who still hangs out around the family. When someone starts stalking Michelle and calling her and hanging up, we're supposed to think it's Chuck. Again, that's just too easy.

There's another creepy dude in the mix. The landlord's handyman son is a total creep who may or may not be 'tarded. He's clever enough to strike up a conversation with Michelle at a playground and pretend that one of her son's playmates is his daughter. But he's not clever enough to not get caught snooping in Michelle's kitchen window.

The landlord reads his son a mean-spirited riot act and the son pulls a Lenny routine. "I just wanted to touch the pretty girl, Pa." The son goes downstairs and hangs himself. Fun!

Michelle starts up a relationship with the detective assigned to her case where it's revealed that Michelle was a home invasion victim years ago and she didn't have the guts to shoot the intruder. This is portrayed as some kind of weakness, but, really? She scared the robber away with a gun. How does that leave her any worse off than if she shot the poor bastard?

Michelle's son, meanwhile, strikes up a relationship with an imaginary friend in his closet. How imaginary? Well, if you throw a ball into the closet, the imaginary friend, BJ, will throw it back out. So it's either a psycho or a ghost.

Michelle's nosy next door neighbor (Margot Kidder!), thinks ghost so she hires a psychic. The psychic is deaf because, well, deaf people are creepy. The best part of this whole exchange is the psychic's translator awesome line readings. Anyways, the psychic frantically waves her hands around and informs Michelle that someone fell down those stairs, that a man with the letter "J" in his name is evil, and that there's a diary hidden in an old bookcase.

The "J" red herring is especially galling when considering "J" is, like, the most common letter in dude names. Hell, they make Charles' last name begin with "J" just for good measure.

Anyways, the diary. The diary is all sorts of happy and there's no evidence of acrimony between the betrothed couple. There is a picture where the murder victim is wearing a broach....a broach that someone gave to Michelle a few days ago. She assumed it was an unsolicited gift from Charles, but now she can't be so sure.

Charles and Michelle get into an argument about it at her place. When he leaves in a huff, he notices someone painted the word "loser" on his Mercedes. He goes to the landlord, who I should have mentioned lives next door, (hint), and asks if he saw the vandal. The landlord...who remains unseen, (hint), says he saw the perp and invites Charles in.

Oh, somewhere in there, while reading the diary in the bath, Michelle has some kind of hallucinatory fever dream. Why not?

Michelle goes to prison to visit the male fiancee who has been convicted of killing his lady. He proclaims his innocence. Michelle calls her boyfriend detective and asks about the landlord's son's suicide. It turns out the son didn't die at all! It was the landlord who has been dead this entire time!

Meanwhile, the babysitter/nosy neighbor investigates the son's closet to show him there is no imaginary friend. Instead she finds a secret passage to next door. She follows the passage and is murdered by the land lord's son with a hammer. The son sees this and freaks out so the murderer, BJ, locks him in a basement room.

Michelle gets home and magically figures out what's going on. She discovers Charles's body and confronts BJ with her gun. He disarms her by, no joke, pointing the other way and distracting her.

BJ's deal is that he is obsessed with the pretty ladies and wants to start a family with them. When the last renter got engaged, he got enraged. So Michelle is careful not to upset the murderous BJ. Her son throws a baseball at him and BJ falls down those same stairs. Then Michelle shoots him.

The film ends with Michelle honoring her neighbor's memory by having a showing of her watercolor paintings of angels. Again, not a joke.


I admit it took me longer than it should have to figure out what going on. So, kudos for that, Lifetime. But...this film didn't make a lot of sense.

I still don't know if BJ was supposed to be disabled or not.


Here's an example of how great this movie could be. When Michelle was at a shooting range, she still couldn't get over her fear of killing that home intruder. So the screen starts vibrating, and then shaking, and the camera spins around Michelle's head while she freaks out. This happens in the movie three different times. And it does not get old.


Say you're Margot Kidder, Lois Lane herself, and a few years ago you had an, uh, an incident where you were hiding in some shrubbery and had shaved your head because you were convinced computer viruses were trying to kill you. You get therapy, medications, and make the long road back to being a working actress. Wouldn't you go out of your way to not play a character like a raving loon?


Female intuition, pushy ex-boyfriends, a child in danger, a police officer love interest. Just because it's a horror movie doesn't mean that it can't paint by the numbers.


This is one of the weirdest movies I've seen on the network, so it deserves the high score. Recommended.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


There's still a question that plagues this blog. What constitutes a Lifetime movie? Does it have to premiere on Lifetime? Does it have to be made-for-TV? What makes the cut and what doesn't?

Well, let me tell you one thing, I wasn't about to quit halfway through Tempted just because there was a ton of swearing. Swearing, you see, means the film probably wasn't made for television. Well, I don't care. To not review Tempted would be a great disservice to my readers. This movie was spectacular. It also had a lot of stuff that needs to be covered. I have the feeling this could be an especially long post.

Tempted opens with a voice over by none other than Burt Reynolds butchering a New Orleans accent. He tells the audience that the swamp runs the city, and once you get in the swamp, you ain't ever gonna be squeaky clean again. Oh boy. Swamp metaphors! Wheee.

Burt Reynolds plays the fabulously wealthy Charlie LeBlanc. Charlie owns a construction firm and is a multi-millionaire. He's also married to Lily. Lily was once a Calvin Klein model and Charlie thinks she is the most beautiful woman in the world. So beautiful that he wonders why she would sleep with a 65-year-old Burt Reynolds.

Charlie decides to offer his part time master carpenter, Jimmy, $10,000 to seduce his wife. He gets another $40,000 if she succumbs to his wiles.

But Jimmy is more than just a carpenter. He's also a hotshot law student. He really needs the money. At the urging of his immoral, gay best friend, Jimmy takes Charlie up on the offer.

Charlie decides to leave town for a week to let Jimmy do his thing. He also, with the help of his loyal assistant, Dot, and his private investigator, Byron Blades, rigs up his house with video cameras. Also, before he leaves, he bones Lily in the shower. Burt Reynolds topless, ladies and gentlemen. Ewww.

Jimmy pops up at the LeBlanc mansion with the intention of boning Lily. He's full of smarmy confidence and cool one-liners. These fail him. So, he decides to go up to Lily's bedroom and jump on top of her and, I swear to God, sniff her torso. He tells her all she has to do is say, "Yes." She says the magic word but as soon as he starts pawing at her she whips out a pistol and kicks him out of the house.

Somehow, in the three minutes of conversation Jimmy had with Lily, Jimmy has fallen head-over-heels in love. He wants, no, he needs to make another run at her.

He starts stalking Lily and when she's shopping at the mall, he breaks into her car and turns her headlights on. When this is happening, Byron is planting a tracking device in Jimmy's car. So much intrigue!

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, Charlie's secretary asks Dot if it's true that Charlie is offering someone $50,000 to sleep with Lily. Dot, who is not a lady but rather a huge menacing dude, tells the secretary that if she mentions a word of this to anyone that she'll end up in the river.

Lily gets to her car to find that the battery is dead. Naturally, Jimmy is parked a few spaces down. She needs to ask him for help. She does and he obliges. He also falls over himself apologizing for his behavior the previous day. She accepts his apology and, for some reason, she decides to go out dancing with him at a local blues joint. She also makes the executive decision to wear a slinky dress.

Lily and Jimmy grind on each other while Byron is in the back of the bar watching. When Jimmy goes over to the bar to buy a drink (Lily asks for a Bloody Mary after 5pm....TRASHY), she disappears. Jimmy is now batting 0-for-2.

Things start getting interesting when Jimmy comes home and finds his gay friend covered in blood. His ex-boyfriend, the governor's son, was in town and I guess things got a little heated. The ex apparently gave HIV to some 14-year-old boy and Gay Friend responded with murder. Jimmy and Gay Friend agree to dump the body in the river.

The next day, Jimmy has an interview with a prominent law firm that wants to offer him an internship that will pay for his schooling. He gets the job. He also gets interviewed by some local homicide detectives.

On the other side of the tracks, Charlie's secretary tells Lily about the arrangement with Jimmy. She is not amused.

Lily calls up Jimmy and says there are some more things that need fixing around the house. He starts working on the back door (the actual back door, not Lily's anus) and he cuts his finger on a screwdriver. Lily tells Jimmy that she is very attracted to him and proceeds to....wait for it....lick all of the blood off of Jimmy's fingers. Then they bone in the kitchen and break a bunch of valuable china.

Byron sends the video tape to Charlie. Charlie is enraged but, at Dot's urging, decides not to beat the shit out of Jimmy and give Jimmy the additional $40,000. But when they meet up, Jimmy denies any Biblical knowing of Charlie's wife. Charlie responds to this lie by beating the shit out of Jimmy.

The next day, Dot and Charlie break into Jimmy's apartment and knock him around some more. They tell him that he is going to kill Lily. If he doesn't, they will kill his father (a stroke victim at a nursing home) and then kill him. They even send Jimmy a Polaroid of Jimmy's dad and Dot hanging out for good measure.

The plan is that, after some event, Charlie and Lily are going to take a nice stroll through a creepy graveyard. Jimmy will pretend to be a mugger and hop out of the shadows and murder Lily.

Jimmy goes back to LeBlanc Manor to sleep with Lily again. He tells her about their predicament and she suggests that he abide by the plan. But, when the time comes, Jimmy is going to shoot Charlie instead of Lily.

Charlie and Lily go to the event, walk through the graveyard, and, just as everyone planned, the mugger jumps out of the bushes. He shoots Charlie four times. Lily then shoots the mugger three times. But, the mugger isn't Jimmy! It's Gay Friend!

Gay Friend dies on the scene. Charlie is in a coma. Jimmy is all kinds of pissed at Lily. That night, Jimmy decides to drink his problems away. But who should appear at the bar but Byron Blades. Byron tells Jimmy about the tracking device and also tells him that their "murder Charlie" plan was on videotape. It's implied that Jimmy pays Byron for the tape, but it isn't entirely clear. Anyways, Jimmy has the tape.

Lily spends the next day at Charlie's death bed. Lily yells at him for not trusting their love. When Charlie starts flat lining, she grossly starts making out with dead body.

The police interview Lily and they aren't buying her story. Why wait for the mugger to kill Charlie before she started shooting? Her lawyer gets her out of the police interrogation and
tells her that Charlie saw him right before he died. He had changed the will and had cut Lily out of it. Of course, the lawyer hasn't had time to file the new will yet. Lily starts licking her fingers and you know what that means. One way ticket to Freaky Town.

Jimmy realizes he's in over his head and goes to the law firm that gave him his internship. An attorney reviews the tape of Jimmy and Lily plotting murder and informs Jimmy that his services as an intern will not be needed. They'd be happy to take Jimmy as a client however. As Jimmy is leaving, he hears his lawyer's secretary on the speaker phone say, "Mrs. LeBlanc on Line 2." Oh no! A double cross! Jimmy punches the lawyer, grabs the tape, and makes his escape.

Lily gives Jimmy a call and they agree to meet in public. Lily offers Jimmy $500,000 in exchange for the tape. Then they're both home free. Jimmy accepts and they decide to make the trade in...a secluded cabin in the swamp!? Fuck the heck!?

Meanwhile, loyal assistant Dot has lost his grip on sanity since his boss was gunned down. He goes to Jimmy's and trashes the place. (The same actor did the exact same thing in Dumb and Dumber. This time, unfortunately, he didn't take the head off of a pet parrot.) He is going to hunt down Jimmy and murder him to death.

That night, Lily and Jimmy meet up again. They're about to make the trade when Jimmy asks her if she ever had any real feelings towards her. Because he was falling in love. Lily calls him on that bullshit and points out that he was trying to sleep with her for money. But she starts seducing him again anyways. She undoes Jimmy's pants and takes out his gun. Uh, Jimmy? What are you doing?

Lily pulls out her gun and shoots Jimmy point blank in the chest. What she doesn't know is that Jimmy had turned on her. The place was surrounded by cops! At the exact same time the cops show up, Dot shows up with a shotgun. (Aside: How did Dot find the cabin?) He kills one of the cops before he is riddled with bullets. Lily tries to run away before she is nabbed by Byron.

Oh, despite being shot point blank in the chest, Jimmy is fine. He has a "shoulder wound." The end.


The movie was obviously stupid, but who cares. It was competent, and when you have a movie as batshit as this, competence goes a long ways.


Only because there can't be a score of 100. This is a movie that had a governor's son with AIDS raping a 14-year-old boy and that was only a minor plot detail.


Again, only because there can be no 100. Burt Reynolds would have earned this film a 10 on his own. All the other stars were gravy. Delicious, delicious gravy.

Lily was played by Saffron Burrows. Burrows was also the star of the cult classic Deep Blue Sea.

If you'll excuse me one moment....



Wait, there's more!

Dot was played by Mike Starr. Mike Starr is in the unofficial That Guy Hall of Fame.

And Gay Friend was played by Eric Mabius from Ugly Betty and Cruel Intentions.


Alas, Tempted fails in one category. There was one female character and, yeah, she was conniving and manipulative and, yeah, she almost outsmarted every single character, but ultimately she failed. The only reason this movie belonged on Lifetime was because it was a woman done wrong trying to exact her revenge. And even that's a stretch.


One of the all-time top scores for an all-time top movie. This is beyond DVR good. This is "Save until I delete" good.