Monday, January 11, 2016

The Mother of a Lifetime

Sometimes, your brain just doesn't work the way it's supposed to. On those days, there's really only one thing you can do:

watch an insane Lifetime thriller.

Quick Plot: Beth is eight months pregnant and insane. "Lifetime insane," which means she still takes great care of her shiny auburn hair and spends her time crashing her married lover/baby daddy's evenings threatening to kill herself or him. Let that sit there for about twenty minutes while we take you to very different place.

Molly is pregnant and not insane. She's married to a hunky nice firefighter named Brad who's never home, and once baby Ava comes along, she's also now, well, insane. Less "Lifetime insane" and more "what I imagine most women who have babies will be like insane" in that she's getting no sleep and no balance in keeping an infant from screaming for the rest of her life. Meanwhile, her pal and coworker Susan (Starry Eyes' Alex Essoe) has just snagged the very promotion that once could have been Molly's. 

In other words, motherhoods sucks.

Just as she's about to take her doctor's advice and see a professional about her postpartum depression, Brad recommends a social website for new moms as a form of home therapy. Because talking to complete strangers is a way better way to maintain your sanity than seeing a psychologist, Molly ditches her appointment and immediately logs in.
In keeping with Lifetime's golden rule that Anyone You Meet Online Is a Crazy And Will Try To Kill You, Molly meets Beth, now the mother of a baby named Robert. Before you can ask which hand is rocking the cradle, the two become the best of friends. 


Is there any channel that knows what you want and gives it to you with as much glory as Lifetime? Between Molly and Brad's beautifully chic unfinished home, interloper Susan's instant audience surrogate role, and Beth's escalating and positively ridiculous craziness, Don't Wake Mommy is the cinematic equivalent of ordering Domino's delivery when on vacation. In so many ways, it's the same as every other (of the thousands) of "crazy obsessed woman steals your life" flicks, and yet it will satisfy you with the absolute certainty of jalapeno cheesy bread.

It might also help that Don't Wake Mommy actually has some interesting talent behind it. Chris Siverston wrote and directed, and that in itself would have probably inspired me to watch it (except I didn't need to know that, because seeing that there was a new Lifetime thriller about  A CRAZY CHICK WHO STEAL YOUR LIFE is usually enough to merit a DVR recording in my household). This is the same filmmaker who made a devastating, well-acted, and quite interesting-looking adaptation of Jack Ketchum's The Lost. It's also the same filmmaker who helped make Lindsay Lohan's downward spiral even more fascinating with the terrible (and kind of awesome?) punchline, I Know Who Killed Me.

Siverston fills his cast with game actors who take the material quite seriously. Essoe, so good in Starry Eyes, is stronger than most who end up in the token Best Friend That Senses Something Amiss And Will Inevitably Pay For It role. Sara Rue is a cheery psychopath, and Ashley Bell holds it all together with a genuinely great performance. For the final kicker, we get what might very well be the most random use of Denise Crosby and creepy baby dolls ever. 

Let's face it: if your movie ends with a random use of Denise Crosby and creepy baby dolls, you're doing something right.

High Points
Following The Last Exorcism, I was convinced Ashley Bell was going to win an Oscar one day. Considering how ridiculously good she is in a Lifetime thriller about THAT CRAZY BITCH TRYING TO STEAL HER BABY, I still am. She is painfully sympathetic and believable as a young mother in over her head, and as silly as some of her material is, she brings a genuine human quality to it. I continue to root for this woman's career.

Low Points
Look, I get that the husbands are never that much more intelligent than Forrest Gump in these flicks, but did Brad have to turn on his wife THAT quickly?

Lessons Learned
Never leave the house without an expensive five pound amethyst crystal in your pocketbook. You want to live, don't you?

Firehouse kitchens feature the finest stainless steel appliances

If you tip your waiter well enough, he just might sneak a batch of Oxycontin and sleeping pills into the tropical mixed drink you order for your friend

I can't tell you that Don't Wake Mommy is a good movie, but it's certainly an entertaining one. Lifetime thrillers aren't hard to come by these days, but some are certainly better than others, and with its strong cast, Don't Wake Mommy is certainly more watchable than virtually every "ripped from the headlines" or "unauthorized true story" cash-in you'll usually find on that network. 

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