Friday, August 26, 2016

093. The Black Godfather and 094. Frankenstein '80

Jump to Frankenstein '80 (1972)

093. The Black Godfather (1974)
Director: John Evans
Writer: John Evans
From: Cult Cinema

Black crime boss JJ decides he's going to get heroin off the streets of his city, but that steps on the toes of white crime boss Tony who's not going to surrender his power easily.

JJ and Tommy are two street hustlers trying to rob crime boss Tony Burton's place. When Tommy kicks open the door, though, his gun doesn't work, and both of them get shot. Tommy is fatally wounded and apologizes to JJ, saying it's because he needed a fix that he couldn't do it right. JJ is picked up by Nate Williams, the Numbers King, who decides to bring him into the organization.

A few years later, JJ is running the show and meets up with Diablo, another member of the black criminal underground. JJ says he wants to get Tony Burton's crew out of the neighborhood and scrub the streets clean of smack. He's already recruited the Outlaws, a group of militants to do the killing, and Diablo signs on as well, even though he suspects JJ is just trying to consolidate power for himself.

This sounds like the set-up to an amazing blaxploitation film, but the movie never picks up steam. It has all the tropes that Black Dynamite parodied/paid homage to: crooked cop, getting drugs out of the community, crime boss as Black Power figure, bad kung-fu, but it stays pretty quiet throughout. Most of the movie is different characters having arguments/debates about who's good or not and the relative importance of power. For being called The Black Godfather, the movie's pretty didactic.

Not that there aren't fun parts to the movie. Toward the end, when JJ has destroyed a $3.5 million heroin shipment, he's hiding out in a coffin warehouse. Tony has kidnapped JJ's girl and JJ records the phone call where Tony makes his demands. When JJ plays the tape back, one of his associates lifts the lid of a coffin he's been sleeping in to identify the church bells in the background on the tape. Tonally, it's a very odd moment. There's also a sequence with characters I didn't recognize at all, where one gets killed by a poisoned blow dart.

The movie's not terrible by any means, I just wanted it to be crazier, more bombastic. There are really only two action sequences and most of the conflict between JJ's crew and Tony's crew happens off-screen. For something like this, I wanted more on-screen adrenaline.


094. Frankenstein '80 (1972)
Director: Mario Mancini
Writers: Ferdinando De Leone and Mario Mancini
From: Pure Terror

Dr. Frankenstein has built a man he calls “Mosaic,” but Mosaic's body keeps rejecting the organs he's been given. Mosaic starts murdering people to harvest the organs he needs and Dr. Frankenstein starts using him as a weapon against those who get too close to the truth.

Prof. Schwartz has developed what he, and for some inexplicable reason, everyone else, calls the “Schwartz serum,” a chemical that prevents the rejection of freshly-transplanted organs. Just as he's about to use the Schwartz on a human being for the first time, the only bottle of it is stolen from his lab causing the patient to die. The patient's brother Karl is the lead crime reporter for the local newspaper and weirdly okay with the death of his sister. Also of note, even though his sister is clearly an adult, Karl has to sign the forms giving Schwartz permission to do the experimental surgery, not her.

The serum was stolen by Dr. Frankenstein who has built a monster, Mosaic. Frankenstein has been working as a pathological anatomist after having his career as a surgeon ended after he botched the surgery of a politician's wife. Instead, he's been building a man from the parts of the dead. Only, the body he's built keeps rejecting the organs it's been receiving. While Frankenstein tries to use the serum to save his monster, Mosaic goes out on his own in the hopes of harvesting organs from murder victims.

And that's really it. Karl meets Frankenstein's niece, Sonia, and they fall in love, the police fail to pick up any lead because they're very poorly-judged comic relief, and evil is thwarted more by inevitability than by anyone's specific actions against it.

Something that drains a lot of the fun from the movie is the sexualized violence. Initially, Mosaic is only killing women, which is neither here nor there, but he strips the second woman after killing her and feels up her breasts. Later he hires a sex worker who is horrified when she sees him naked, and he rapes and murders her. Then, when he's on his final rampage, he murders a stripper in her changing room and, again, starts feeling up the corpse. To paraphrase a good point The Flop House had on this sort of stuff: there's no objection to nudity or titillation, I just don't want it placed in the context of violence. I don't want that peanut butter in my chocolate.

Apart from that, it is kind of a fun bad movie. It's not super-campy, and the obvious effort to make the cops comic relief goes over like a lead balloon, but the dubbing is unintentionally funny, it has that great mid-70's lurid aesthetic, and there are lots of opportunities to makes jokes about the movie. I mean, “Schwartz serum?” The ending takes too long—the monster just goes on a rampage against random people so it's impossible to care or feel any suspense—but with some acid-tongued friends, this could be a good time.

This movie had been in the public domain, but got GATT'd and so is no longer available for free use and re-use.

Friday, August 19, 2016

091. Black Hooker and 092. The Head

Jump to The Head (1959)

091. Black Hooker aka Street Sisters(1974)
Director: Arthur Roberson
Writer: Arthur Roberson from his play
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In

A black couple raises the white son of their sex worker daughter as each of them tries to find their way in the world.

If this ain't a big wet fart of a film. There isn't a plot. There is no plot for me to relate. The script is adapted from a play written by the writer/director and it's pretty obvious which parts were in the original play and which parts were added to flesh the film out/give it an exploitation edge.

Before I struggle through the pretense of describing the non-events of this movie, I'm going to start by noting that none of the characters have names. Not a one. There's grandma, grandpa, painted woman, boy, and girl. That's literally the extent of effort put into this production. Also, race is never mentioned even though this black family is raising a blond-haired, blue-eyed white boy. While certain parts of that can go unspoken, the movie's set in what looks like the jazz age. Race and passing are going to be a central concern to this narrative and to not mention them even once raises the question of why we have a mixed-race family at all.

So. We open with boy getting chewed out by grandpa because his mother is a sex worker and that's how he was conceived. Grandma stands up for him saying how he was made isn't his fault and that doesn't mean he can't be good. Then painted lady arrives, has a brief falling out with her parents, and leaves, pledging never to return. She goes back to sex work in the city and boy gets baptized in the barn where grandpa holds services.

Cut to who knows how much later, and boy is an adult. He's in love with girl, a black woman, who he promises he'll marry once he's set up a good life for them in the city. She runs into grandpa while looking for boy and grandpa rapes/has sex with her. The scene is confusing because it cuts from grandpa clearly moving in on her to what are obviously two other people on a different set performing the sex scene where the sex is consensual. Boy sees it and runs away to the city.

In the city, painted woman refuses to accept him as her own so he gets a job at a butcher's. The butcher's wife tries to seduce him, but boy rejects her, and the butcher catches them. Presumably he catches his wife failing to seduce boy and then threatening to tell her husband that they have been having an affair, but he fires boy anyway.

Back at the farm where grandma and grandpa live, grandma is waiting for boy to pick her up to take her to his graduation that is apparently about to happen from a school that I guess he's been going to for the past several unremarked years. Painted woman shows up because her pimp has threatened to kill her and she needs to lay low. She and grandpa get into an argument and grandma dies of a heart attack.

Everything goes sepia for grandma's funeral. Boy is there and, after everyone has walked away from the coffin (that's just sitting in the middle of a bit of desert), he sees his mother lounging on the coffin. He walks up to her and we cut to her apartment where she tells him she's sick and needs his help. He starts shouting “whore” at her and chokes her to death. Cut to black, end film.

There's no movie here. There is no movie here. Ostensibly it's about a family trying to raise their grandson despite his racial difference and the morality of the time, but that plot is never actually explored. Since boy's appearance is never raised as an issue, it's not a part of the movie, so it makes no sense that he's Aryan. Then there's grandpa sleeping with girl, boy being rejected by his mother, and the shopkeeper firing him for being hit on by the shopkeeper's wife. These could be plot points of a story about a character's loss of innocence and their transition into dealing with the world as the imperfect place it is as opposed to the space of righteousness they were taught, but the movie doesn't engage with that either. There is no movie here.

Despite having a copyright notice on the film, I think this is in the public domain. There are copies on Desert Island Films and Film Chest, which are not 100% guarantees, but a good barometer. Also, both my copies have Mill Creek bugs on them and I'm increasingly inclined to think they only do that to public domain films so they can claim ownership. It's a moot point because the movie's not worth watching. If it is public domain, there's some nice footage of young boy and girl running through fields together that could be cut into something better. It'd be hard to cut them into something worse.


092. The Head (1959)
Director: Victor Trivas
Writer: Victor Trivas
From: Sci-Fi Invastion

A mad scientist finds a way to preserve dead tissue and uses it to keep his mentor's head alive in a pan.

Dr. Ood seeks out Prof. Abel who's been developing serum Z for keeping organs alive. Prof. Abel has a bad heart and asks his assistants, Ood, Dr. Burke, and Bert to transplant the heart from a dying man. In the lead-up to the transplant, the donor dies and Dr. Burke calls off the surgery. Ood objects and kills Burke, burying his body in the forest. He and Bert do the surgery anyway, but it's unsuccessful so Ood keeps Abel's head alive using serum Z.

After two weeks, Burke's cousin, Irene, who is a humpback, starts inquiring after Dr. Burke. Ood fakes a letter saying Burke is safe and that Burke wants Ood to do an operation on Irene to repair her back. He also has Prof. Abel tell her the same thing via intercom.

Ood is planning to transfer Irene's head to the body of Lily, a striptease dancer that he knew back in the old country. She'd poisoned her husband and Ood gave her plastic surgery so she could take on a new identity. He tricks her into coming back to the lab where he spikes her drink and puts Irene's head on her body.

Three months later, Irene wakes up in her new body. Ood is immediately handsy, though, and she flees back to her apartment. By coincidence, she goes to the bar Lily used to dance at where she meets Lily's ex, a sculptor who's also the son of a judge. He remarks how similar Irene's body is to Lily's, but that Lily was found dead on a railroad track three months before. Irene starts to put things together and confronts Ood who tells her the truth. She flees, but is captured and surrenders to him.

While this is happening, Bert finds Dr. Burke's body and, after talking with Prof. Abel's head, realizes Ood is a murderer. Bert helps Irene escape initially and is ready to stand up to him on Abel's behalf, but Ood shoots him.

The police show up due to the sculptor's claims—only because he's the judge's son—and save Irene and Bert from the house as Ood is setting it on fire. Ood climbs to the roof and jumps to his death.

Immediate shades of The Brain That Wouldn't Die, this is curiously more full of incident and much less fun. The Brain That Wouldn't Die has the head interacting with people, the evil doctor going into town on the hunt for new bodies and getting thwarted several times, and just a bit more energy. This movie's kind of grim. You have the mad doctor who keeps his mentor's head alive for months and tricks a disabled woman into submitting to surgery that ultimately horrifies her. Plus the subplot of the doctor knowing the dancer from before seems like something out of a noir film.

There is some camp fun to be had with this movie. I kept referring to the villain as “Dr. Rude,” since that's what his name sounded like. Plus Dr. Burke is kind of a Cyril Figgis-type and I was making jokes around him the brief time he was in the movie.

Which is also the problem. The movie loses the campy elements pretty quickly and then is slightly uncomfortable. It has neat sets, an okay atmosphere, and tends to hang together as a story, but it lacks that sense of fun. This apparently had been public domain, but got GATT'ed.

Friday, August 12, 2016

089. Gothic and 090. Death Rage

Jump to Death Rage (1976)

089. Gothic (1986)
Director: Ken Russell
Writer: Stephen Volk
From: Chilling

A fictionalization of the night Mary Shelley conceived and wrote Frankenstein.

It's 1816 and Lord Byron is in self-imposed exile from England to try to escape his overly-enthusiastic fans and the paparazzi. He's visited by Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, and her step-sister Claire Clairmont who find him being attended to by Dr. John Polidori. Claire is already in a relationship with Byron and the five quickly start indulging in every pleasure they can, including laudanum.

Strange things develop as the night goes on. There are couplings and recriminations, sightings of a figure from the corner of people's eyes, various paeans to the power of lightning. Byron proposes a game where they try to compose ghost stories. At one point, he brings out a human skull and the five hold a séance which induces an epileptic fit in Claire. Finally they realize that something living was created by the séance, a manifestation of their fears and desires, and is wandering the estate, seeking to destroy them.

Byron insists they need to hold a new séance to banish the creature, but Mary objects fearing that they might create something worse, as well as insisting that the creature did not ask to be made and that they have no right to destroy it. In the midst of the second séance, Mary heaves a rock and destroys the skull, breaking the spell and leaving the creature free.

The next morning, everything seems returned to normal, but Mary continues to think of what they've created and says her story's going to be about a creature that seeks revenge upon its creator hounding him unto death.

I first saw this movie as part of a vampires in literature and film course and it was one of the odder pieces—partly because it wasn't about vampires but rather, tangentially, about the genesis of an idea that became one of the first vampire stories—Polidori's “The Vampyre.” Mostly, though, the movie was odd because it's a strange, strange film. It's a Ken Russell flick so I thought I might just have not gotten it when I was younger, but, watching it again, the movie doesn't work.

At root, the script is bad. This is supposed to be the story of these creative minds coming together and their meeting producing these major works. We never see anyone composing during the movie, though. Instead, the characters make really stilted or obvious references to the pieces that inspired this story. So Percy is obsessed with lightning, Byron is a pansexual Don Juan, Mary lapses into mourning over her miscarriage, and Polidori keeps invoking vampires and bleeding. Everything is done with an almost winking affectation, like the characters themselves are playing characters, but the wink is never present.

Even if you ignore the shoehorning of Frankenstein and “Vampyre” references, there's no logic to the film. Nothing moves or arises organically. The sense is that there's supposed to be a dreamlike logic to everything, that the events don't actually flow from one to the other, and so we're in an odd space that is more Freudian than literal, but then it's actually a horror movie where they've literally summoned some kind of demon that they have to deal with. By the end of the movie, it's not even clear if what we saw was what happened to the characters or if it was all a bad drug trip.

Beyond there not being any real thread running through the movie, it looks bad. The sets are all spacious and empty. They may have filmed in the actual house where this gathering took place, but the result is it all looks like it was filmed in a dance studio with some furniture shoved into one corner. When we do get proper sets—the inexplicable dungeon or the final nightmare sequence—they look like “Closer”-era Nine Inch Nails' video shoots, an aesthetic that's not helped by Thomas Dolby's synth score. The music is great for 1986, but it doesn't fit with a movie set in 1816.

The movie's not mad as it should be, it's boring. It's partly a love letter to these keystones of Gothic literature, but if the nods to the source texts don't engage you, you're left with a movie that needs to be more lurid and more off-the-wall than it is to entertain. I'd say give it a pass.



090. Death Rage (1976)
Director: Antonio Margheriti
Writer: Guy Castaldo
From: Cult Cinema; Chilling
Watch: archive.org

A New York hitman comes out of retirement to hunt down his brother's killer in Naples.

Yul Brenner stars as the hitman and the movie opens with him assassinating some random person at a concert festival in New York. We then cut to Naples where aspiring mobster Angelo is working the horse track. He finds out which horses the made men have bet on and then shoots the competitors with a pellet gun during the race to make sure the right horse wins. A visiting American wins because of Angelo, but is shot and killed by members of the Naples mafia.

The situation arose because Gennaro Gallo, a mover in the Naples branch of the mob, wanted the American kidnapped so he could ask why the Americans had sent someone over to spy on him, but the American got killed instead. The New York mob, of course, wants revenge for their guy getting killed so one of the bosses contacts Yul Brenner to tell him Gallo is the man who killed Brenner's brother. Brenner heads to Italy and doesn't do that much. I mean, he wears black, people try to kill him, he hooks up with a stripper, but he doesn't really hunt down his target.

Brenner trains Angelo to be an assassin and leaves him to kill Gallo. Meanwhile, Gallo's men have attacked Brenner's girlfriend Anna, so Brenner and Anna make a deal with the cops and go to a safehouse. Brenner slips out, meets up with Angelo, kills Gallo himself, but not before remembering that it wasn't Gallo who put the hit on his brother, it was the mob boss that sent Brenner over to kill Gallo at the beginning.

Angelo and Brenner run, but Brenner gets shot and killed. Finally, Angelo travels to America with Brenner's body and, at the funeral, kills the mob boss that killed Brenner's brother. The other bosses come up and tell Angelo he'll be the new hitman to take Brenner's place.

I have seen this movie too many times for how meh it is. I watched it when I was trying to go through the Chilling set before, I watched it with my bad movie friends, I think I may have seen it a third time that I can't even remember, and now I've watched it again. It's neither good nor bad, just sort of there. The movie passes the time, but makes it difficult to care.

Brenner is walking through the role, mostly just enjoying an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy, which, fair enough. His character doesn't have any arc, though. The action sequences aren't that spectacular. There are a few okay car chases, but overall the movie just ambles from point-to-point. The only interesting element is Angelo, a wannabe mobster who's a relatively resourceful criminal. He's not the main character, though, so it's hard to understand why he keeps coming back.

The movie's 85 minutes and that's the only definitive statement I can make about it. I'm not even sure if it's PD. I uploaded a copy to archive.org a while ago because there's no copyright notice on my print, however, it is an Italian film so it may have been put back under copyright due to GATT. The one campy pleasure that can be drawn from the movie is saying “I'm Yul Brenner, and I'm dead now” at the end, but I don't imagine that's a huge selling point.

Friday, August 05, 2016

087. In Hot Pursuit and 088. The Hearse

Jump to The Hearse (1980)

087. In Hot Pursuit aka Polk County Pot Plane(1977)
Director: Jim West
Writer: Jim Clarke
From: Cult Cinema; Drive-In

Drug-running brothers Oosh and Doosh do their best to deliver truckloads of pot for their kingpin bosses, but the cops are never far behind.

Robbed at the Oscars
We open with a credit sequence that implies that this will be a long-form chase feature or a pilot for a Dukes of Hazard rip-off. The music's peppy, each of the crooks is introduced by their character name, and the crime bosses are named “Kingpin 1” and “Kingpin 2.” It's a Dr. Seuss crime thriller! Even the plane gets a title card! Whatever else the movie might be, it's going to be goofy.

And then it actually starts and it's the pilot of a plane hauling pot mumbling at his co-pilot about the details of their altitude and how much space will need to be cleared for them to land. They arrive at the makeshift runway, trade the drugs for money, both sides holding shotguns and looking mean.

This isn't goofy, this is how a drug deal would go down.

Oosh and Doosh are driving the transport—a camper—and leave once they've loaded up. The plane starts to take off as well, and this is when the State Troopers show up to try to arrest everyone. The plane gets away, but the camper, after what's supposed to look like a high-speed chase but doesn't, hits a bulldozer that's being hauled on a flatbed and is torn apart. Oosh, Doosh, and their two nameless accomplices are arrested.

Mr. King, Kingpin #1, talks to the other kingpins about springing the quartet from jail and then vanishes from the movie. The next day, a helicopter lifts the drug runners from the prison, but the pilot is mad about getting shot at. He complains to Sandy, Kingpin #2, who shoots him in the head. Such goofy fun, right? He then gives Oosh and Doosh their next job.

While this is only the first 20 minutes, it's basically the film. The chase scenes are supposed to be nail-biting and exciting, but they're not, and they're punctuated with very obvious, highly telegraphed gags. In the first one, it's a car driven by a hillbilly that gets smashed up by the cops. After the whole scene's over, he drives home and gets yelled at by his wife about the car. In the second chase—because they're always getting tailed and spotted, but that's somehow not important—we literally cut from the beginning of the chase sequence to a long set-up of a guy buying a double-wide to be hitched to a truck and driven to his land.

In the second chase, they're driving a semi, so the semi's going to drive through the house. We know it's going to happen. But they belabor the point that it's going to happen and then take so long to arrive at the, admittedly impressive, shot of the semi driving clean through the house, that it's really hard to care.

Blah blah blah. They get chased, their friends get killed, they take a final job but Sandy stiffs them so they rob Sandy and take off in the plane. It doesn't really matter. These aren't characters, they're input/output devices going from pointless chase to pointless chase. Oosh and Doosh don't want anything, there's never any backstory, they're just drivers, background characters in their own movie. Even when their accomplices die, they say, “our best friends just got killed,” but I have no idea what those characters' names even are.

The movie doesn't have any characters, any personality, any stakes, so it doesn't have any sense of gravity. It reminded me a lot of Country Blue in that it's trying to be lighthearted, but ends up being, when not grim, just dull.

My print doesn't have any copyright claims on it which means it's public domain, but Mill Creek slapped their bug on it. It could be fun with a smart-mouthed group of friends. The movie's real stupid, but does have some impressive destruction: cars get torn up in ways I'd be surprised to see even at a demolition derby. If it weren't so dull, there'd be more to recommend. The closing credits announce that “NO STUNTMEN WERE USED IN THIS FILM” and I'd add that no actors were either. This is 87 minutes of dull, repetitive chase sequences with grossly telegraphed gags. While there is some nice destruction, the movie is still a slog.



088. The Hearse (1980)
Director: George Bowers
Writer: William Bleich from an idea by Mark Tenser
From: Cult Cinema

Jane Hardy moves out to her late aunt's house in the country to recover from stress after a divorce, but the townspeople are hostile to her presence, there are still questions around her aunt's death, and a spectral hearse keeps harrying her.

Who keeps giving you money?
The movie opens with a title card reading, “A Marimark Production,” and that's when the screaming begins—mine, not the film's. The only one of these I've remotely enjoyed was Hunk, and even that fell apart in its second half. So I went into this movie expecting to hate it, and, to be fair, it was pretty okay.

In the past year, Jane's mother has died and she's just finalized the divorce from her husband. She wants to leave San Francisco for a little bit to get away from all the things that remind her of her pain and her recent emotional breaks. This, by the way, is related to us in a mix of voice-over and flashback to her shrink being very unsupportive.

The scene does two things: 1) it establishes that she has emotional issues and so may be crazy and we can expect people to ignore her claims of ghosts or threats or plots against her for that very reason. 2) it establishes men being dicks to her. Seriously, everyone's kind of shitty to her throughout the movie. The shrink's advice isn't even good. She should get away from her triggers for a little bit and relax. Plus the house is part of her mother's estate so it's actually business Jane needs to resolve.

Anyway, that flashback ends the opening sequence in San Francisco which is literally there just to establish that Jane is from the city. She then drives to an area that's much cheaper to film in. I was making The Room jokes throughout because the opening uses many of the same locations that Tommy Wiseau did.

Jane arrives that night in Blackford where she has a small fender bender with the titular hearse that seems to have been waiting for her. She calls Pritchard, played by Joseph Cotton (yeah, him), who's a dick about letting her into the house. He lets slip that her mother had promised it to him and he's kind of resentful about Jane moving in.

Time passes, everyone is strangely rude once they find out what house she's staying at, and everyone shuns her. She hires the only person in town who's nice to her, the son of the hardware store owner, to do work on the house, and even he starts telling his friends that he's getting some action off her. Meanwhile, she's found her aunt's diary and a strange necklace that she starts wearing.

The diary talks about her aunt's plans to marry the local minister, but she's seduced by a Satanist named Robert, because why wouldn't you be? Actually, where's that movie? I want to see the elderly Satanic couple, still reviled by the town, but still being happy, awesome, and worshiping the hornéd-one. The diary notes that Robert gave the aunt a strange necklace, presumably the one Jane is now wearing.

At this point, Jane starts having nightmares. She sees the hearse occasionally, but rarely. It's also around this point where she meets Tom who she starts having a relationship with.

And the movie progresses from there. It seeds several possibilities: Pritchard is gaslighting her to steal the house, the town is actually full of Satanists planning something against her, she's actually dead and this is all a Carnival of Souls situation, or she's being haunted by her aunt's ghost. The movie is a bit too sluggish to effectively plant its seeds, or it's that very sluggishness that gave my mind time to wander and come up with all those possibilities. There's not a lot to suggest what the truth is. We get hints of a haunting, some kids are vandalizing the place, and the titular hearse doesn't show up that much which made me wonder why it was the title of the movie.

There are some moments of hilarity. Pictures of the aunt—who died around 1950—look like they're from the Old West. Even her diary seems profoundly anachronistic in that it seems to be from the 1850's, not WWII. The local pastor shows up out of nowhere at the end to shout at the house, which is kind of great. Also, one of the local teenagers is played by a 25-year-old Christopher McDonald. I will never not love elderly teens.

Of course, there are also things that don't work. Everyone is shitty to her and that includes some BS 80's boys-will-be-boys sexism. Even the sheriff is creeping on her and it's not okay. It even becomes a distracting subplot with the kid doing work on her house crushing on her and lying to his friends about how far he's gone. It's just sloppy filler in a movie that needed to be a little tighter, but it wouldn't be a Marimark Production without uncomfortable sexism.

This is not as bad as most Marimark Productions. It's not great—generally baggy, too slow in developing its plot, not much character—but it's not teeth-grindingly awful. It feels like a Lifetime Original Movie. Like I said at the top, the movie's okay. It's not hilariously bad, just profoundly unambitious. There's nothing remarkable about it, but, if it somehow pops up on TV and you want something in the background, it works well enough.