I interrupt my regularly-scheduled programming for something a little bit different. You see, I have an inexplicable affection for terrible Lifetime movies and other bad television. In fact, if you follow me on Twitter, my afternoon Tweets (during naptime) are usually full of sarcastic observations about Beverly Hills 90210 reruns and made for TV movies. I thought it might be fun to do a tongue in cheek review of particularly rotten movies here. Mostly because it’s my blog and it’s what I want to do, but also because I think you’ll enjoy it. So here we go!
My first selection for this new and irregular feature is the new made for TV movie, Cyberstalker, starring Mischa Barton. It originally aired on Lifetime Movie Network on Friday, September 14th 2012. But I DVR’d it and watched it on Sunday because that’s how I roll.
The movie opens in 1999. We watch as a shadowy figure creeps around a house, taking photos of young Aiden’s things. While the creeper is still creeping, a family pulls up to the house, in some sort of argument with their obviously rebellious daughter. Obvious because she has blue-streaked hair and rolls her eyes a lot. As Aiden goes up to her room, her mother calls upstairs after her “Don’t be on that computer!” This was the early days of the Interwebz, you see, and lots of shady business went on in chat rooms even then. So we as viewers know the creeper is still in the house. Aiden’s parents realize something is wrong and call the police and there are a few tense moments as you think Aiden is going to walk in on him in her closet. Instead, he sneaks out of Aiden’s window and comes back in downstairs and murders both of Aiden’s parents just as Detective Page shows up.
We then flash forward to 13 years later, which is interesting only because the characters continue to refer to the passing of time incorrectly. Detective Page is stewing over the cold homicide case of Aiden’s parents’, so his partner looks her up on some kind of Facebook/MySpace generic hybrid social network and finds her. We get a little old traditional cop/new-fangled technology cop banter as they disagree on methods but then they agree that this isn’t Aiden’s real profile, the killer must have made it to try and track her down. The police track her down through some computer program created by this nerdy hacker guy in a wheelchair, Jack Dayton from Cybercrimetics (*eyeroll*), that the police are working with to solve this cold case. It magically finds her artwork and traces it to her in Philadelphia.
We’re reintroduced to Aiden, who is a painter with a massive apartment and doesn’t look like she’s aged a day since we first saw her 1999. It’s never really explained how she affords this place and an art studio when she’s never had a showing of her work. She seems perfectly well-adjusted, save for the fact that she doesn’t date and has a vintage Nokia cell phone that doesn’t text or have GPS in it (which of course is laboriously pointed out through the dialogue. WE GET IT.). Aiden agrees to have her work shown at her first art show evah! and while she’s at the gallery, she meets this young hottie who chats her up. She has one drink and apparently gets so drunk from a tiny glass of white wine that she inexplicably agrees to let the hottie drive her home EVEN THOUGH it’s been pointed out time and time again that she’s untrusting of anyone because of what happens her to parents.
A short time later we see the back of the original creeper being let into Aiden’s apartment by the super (thanks, guy!), fumbling through her things, setting up “hidden” cameras that really aren’t hidden at all, and of course muttering threatening things in a scary voice. “You won’t need these anymore!” Muaaaahahahahaha. Then he lays down on her bed and smells her pillow, which we see through the “hidden” camera. There are all these ridiculous shots of furious keyboard typing, lots of flashing screens, and weird zooming all mixed with grunting and spooky music.
Aiden goes on a date with the art museum hottie Paul where they both order “coffee, black, with a lemon wedge.” (Gross.) While on her date, the police happen to discover that Paul was living in the same town as Aiden the summer her parents were murdered. Oh noes! The hottie is a suspect! Detective Page calls Aiden, who freaks the crap out in the cafe bathroom while Paul looks both menacing and annoyed in the hallway. He leaves and the detective then rescues poor Aiden.
Later we see Aiden in her apartment wearing a lovely silk robe and wielding a gigantic knife (since you know it’s so easy to attack an intruder with a kitchen utensil). We get these stupid shots of the back of the creeper’s head as he keeps making her power flicker on and off and then Detective Bonham (Det. Page’s partner) shows up at her house. Not at the door, mind you, but at the window making a scary shadow. He tells her he’s been told to keep an eye on her and he’ll be in his car. Aiden tries to sleep but can’t, so she calls her annoying therapist friend, Jill. She tells her friend that it was indeed Paul who killed her parents and Jill tells her to “channel it into your art and let the police do their job.” But do you think Aiden intends to do this? Of course not. They never do. Meanwhile, the creeper is listening to the phone conversation, knows who Aiden is talking to, and I’m Not Kidding You, “Search Engine”s her. No really. It looks just like Google but it says in huge letters SEARCH ENGINE. Ugh. Awful. He books an online appointment with Jill which of course makes us, the viewers, say “Oh no he didn’t! Jill, be careful!”
Detective Page finds Paul on the street outside Aiden’s studio and aggressively asks about the summer of 1999. Paul’s alibi is (again, I’m not kidding you) that he was backpacking through Europe. I mean, I know some people have actually backpacked through Europe but it’s such a corny alibi that no one would believe. He hears Paul out and they realize it isn’t Paul who murdered Aiden’s parents. But seriously, I could have told you that. It was only 45 minutes into the movie when he was pegged and you know there’s going to be a shocking ending to this one. So Aiden calls Paul and leaves a voicemail saying she wants to see him again (now that he’s not a murderer and all) and the creeper is listening in (seriously this guy needs a new hobby) and goes 7 shades of crazy with rage. So crazy that his neighbor or roommate comes to the door to tell him to shut up and keep it down. He sees a shattered laptop on the floor and calls 911 somehow while the creeper is lunging for him. There’s a really ridiculous shot of him holding up his iPhone perfectly so we can see it calling 911. It looks like he’s trying to show the creeper an Instagrammed photo of his lunch. So dumb. The creeper then snaps the dude’s neck, obvs, and runs out the door with a bunch of computer equipment and a disguise.
Next we see the creeper renting the vacant apartment next door to Aiden. Uh oh, this can’t be good. Then the nerdy hacker tries to put all the suspicion for everything onto Detective Bonham but instead the trail turns to Mr. Cornelis, Aiden’s friend and art agent (or something?) who has taken Aiden under his wing, even let her use his last name as an alias, and set up a bank account for her. But the money has been transferred to Cornelis’s personal account, leaving Aiden with a bit of an overdraft issue. Oh shoot! Now he’s a suspect??
At the same time, Paul and Aiden are gettin’ frisky at her apartment over Chinese food. They’re interrupted mid-kiss by Jill, who is on her cell phone, walking downtown. She’s telling Aiden about this weirdo new client (and I’m pretty sure that’s not ethical, Ms. Therapist) who seems to know a lot about Aiden. As she’s talking, we see that the creeper is monitoring all of the city’s street cameras and oh crap he has also hacked into the traffic lights too! He changes the pedestrian signal from stop to walk and just as Jill steps out into the street, BAM! she’s hit by a bus! We hear the creeper say in his creeper voice “Well that worked out nicely.”
Are you getting suspicious of the hacker guy working with the police? Because I am. I think maybe him being in a wheelchair is supposed to distract us into thinking he couldn’t be the creeper because we’re seeing the creeper walk around so DUH it can’t be the guy in the wheelchair!
There’s an emotional scene at the police department where Aiden talks to Mr. Cornelis in an interrogation room. She knows it’s not him but the police don’t seem to be as sure. Then she’s back at home and Paul’s in the living room making calls on Voice Chat, which looks eerily similar to Skype. Creeper is watching and says “Paul, you’re getting in my way!” Aiden goes to bed while Paul is on a headset
Skyping Voice Chatting. It’s dark and we see the locks turn. A dark figure walks into the apartment behind Paul and into Aiden’s bedroom. He sloooooooooooowly reaches out to touch her shoulder, set to screeching violins, but doesn’t touch her. Aiden hears the door shut when he leaves and flips out, telling Paul he can’t stay there, that she isn’t ready. But the creeper’s still in the house! She goes back to bed and we see ominous shadows and hear him say “Good night, Aiden.” Seriously y’all, what’s he waiting for?
I guess he needs to off another one of Aiden’s friends. Sorry folks, Paul’s about to get his. He’s been summoned to a parking garage by “Detective Page” via text (seem shady?). All the car alarms start going off, he keeps getting texts, then a motorcyclist pulls up in front of him. He gets one more text (“Goodbye Paul”) before being run off the side of the parking garage, plummeting to the street. But wait! He’s not dead! And the creeper now has a phone app that unlocks all of Aiden’s doors and turns her lights on and off. For some reason that scene is jammed in the middle of this Paul stuff. Aiden comes to see Paul in the hospital and sees that the texts were from Detective Page. What’s this? Another suspect?? The one she trusts the most in all this?? Can it be?? So who does she turn to? Jack, the wheelchair hacker. Come meet me at my apartment tonight at 8pm, she says. Great idea, Aiden.
So here we are — 8pm, Jack’s in the apartment, showing Aiden photos of her apartment on what he says is Detective Page’s hard drive. Aiden is wearing these horrific high-waisted AND pleated AND tapered-leg pants and I’m wondering if Jack is now re-considering his stalkee because of her wardrobe choices. As he and Aiden talk, Paul wakes up and struggles to get to his cell to call Aiden. He can’t reach her and gets in touch with Det. Page. He comes to the door, realizes Jack is in the apartment with her. He knows something is wrong and Aiden tries to open the door but can’t. Jack stands up out of his wheelchair behind her (Gasp! He’s been healed!) and gets her with his taser. Jack lets Det. Page in, tases him repeatedly while Aiden runs upstairs and locks herself in her room. She uses her laptop to
Skype Voice Chat Paul, who has somehow gotten out of the hospital. Now Jack has a gun and is creeping down the hall giving a crazed monologue about how long he has loved Aiden. Paul and Det. Bonham are inside now, Bonham goes up after Jack and is apparently shot. Jack comes back downstairs, shoots Paul, and now Det. Page has woken up and shoots Jack, who VERY slowly and dramatically drops to the floor while music resolves in the background.
The movie ends with a flash to 6 months later. Aiden says goodbye to Mr. Cornelis at his studio and leaves with Paul as *dun dun duuuuun!* a security camera records them walking down the hall. I think this is supposed to be scary, given the subject matter of the movie, but why? Jack’s gone.
I’m not sure if this movie is supposed to teach a lesson or not. In Tall Hot Blonde, another Lifetime movie that deals with online creeps, you feel like they’re trying to teach you to be smart and safe online, but there’s really no moral to this story. Jack was a total creep, no matter how hard she tried to hide. Maybe the lesson is that you shouldn’t rule out the guy in a wheelchair from being the creeper, because that could totally happen.
Did you catch this movie on LMN when it aired? What did you think? If you missed it, it’ll be on again the weekend of October 10th, 2012!
If you don’t want to wait for my next review, which could happen at any time, you MUST check out the Lifetime Movie Reviews blog!