Monday, September 20, 2021

She Bakes. She Knits. She KILLS.


The world we occupy can be a tough, challenging place. War, cancer, 5-day work weeks, inefficient supermarket line systems, economic unrest...all that terrible jazz that adds up to our minds being torn in a dozen directions. Sometimes, we need to trust a certain form of order, a code, if you will, that offers a stability we know will never let us down.

For me, that constant is the Lifetime thriller. 

Quick Plot: We open, Mikey-style, on the slow motion drowning of young Megan under the ill-advised supervision of her barely older brother Tom, now a grown, Lifetime-handsome architect living in an impeccably white house with his equally white wife Melissa and child Annie. Melissa is about to launch her online jewelry business so as you can imagine, life is TOUGH for the beautiful Ferridays.

Excuse me, I should be more specific: Melissa's company makes bracelets. That's it. Beaded or gently welded bracelets built in her luxury bonus room that includes its own wine cellar.

Do Lifetime movies save a few bucks by turning using flipped rooms in home renovation reality shows as their set? Such are the questions I ponder, and folks, we haven't even met the TITULAR KILLER GRANDMA.

Played by the insanely perfectly named Nana Visitor, Grandma Yvonne is of course the same mother who watched her daughter die in the prologue. It seems she's been spending most of the last 30 years institutionalized, in part voluntarily, although additional flashbacks reveal she's been racking up a body count and eager to continue if it means getting full custody of her Megan stand-in, Annie.

Before you can write a thank you card for that hand-knit blanket, Grandma has smothered Annie's regular babysitter with a throw pillow (which she dutifully fluffs before leaving the scene of the crime) and stabbed Melissa's suspicious pal Courtney. Somehow, the young detective (fresh from the scene of a clearance sale at Journey's) makes no connection. 

With her summer camp friendship bracelet business about to hit it big, Melissa has no choice but to trust her husband's estranged, knife-wielding mother with the full care of her kid. Yvonne does what I would probably do in her position: replace Annie's stuffed unicorn with a creepy Beavis-faced doll and dress the kid up like a zombified Wednesday Addams.

Naturally, it takes Tom and Melissa far too long to draw connections between the timing of the many dead people in their sphere and the return of Yvonne. Knives are drawn, stairs tumbled down, and through it all, the Ferriday household remains so impeccable that you could lick the walls just to clean your tongue.

You don't come to Killer Grandma for logic, nor do you expect deep characterization to challenge your brain. This movie is exactly what its cover art and title promise: ridiculously attractive and well-made-up people saying they have to put on makeup before solving the world's most obvious crime. It's stupid, it's pretty, it's weirdly paced...

It's perfect.

High Points
Clearly, director Danny J. Boyle (right, not that one) had to film Killer Grandma quickly, but one must appreciate his attempts to replicate the Vivika A. Fox/Uma Thurman Kill Bill kitchen fight on a dime

Low Points
Is it me, or do we never REALLY learn the details of Grandma's institutionalization? We see one flashback showing her murdering her husband, but despite some extreme exposition-heavy conversations with her therapist (I ask with my shoulders shrugged) it's incredibly cloudy as to how much is known about Yvonne's crimes, and Tom's noncommittal attitude about just how dangerous his mother might be doesn't help. I know this is the type of movie that has to be cut within a hair of the right timing for a shampoo commercial, but it still feels weirdly un-detailed 

Lessons Learned
Girlfriends are supposed to say goodbye

There's a big market out there for non-Etsy based ugly bracelet makers

Sharks don't do boundaries

Head trauma and suffocation are easily interchangeable to modern coroners 

It's really very simple: if the statement "there's a Lifetime movie on Hulu called Killer Grandma and it's exactly what you think it is" doesn't make you immediately turn on Hulu to watch Killer Grandma, then Killer Grandma is simply not for you. Have at it, or don't. 

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