I am a bit of a tv snob. I pride myself on watching high-quality programming like Lost or 30 Rock. I like to think that I am a discerning viewer who doesn’t want to waste time with a show that is poorly written or acted. I avoid gossipy, celebrity-scandal driven shows (basically anything on E!) if at all possible. You get the idea.
So, imagine my surprise when I found myself watching the Lifetime Movie Network last night! This is a channel that I’ve always laughingly said was designed for middle-aged women. It’s always the same old story of a strong-willed woman who overcomes great adversity to rise above her situation. Every time I read a plot summary of one of these movies I roll my eyes and move on. Until now.
What is wrong with me?! Was this a momentary lapse in judgment, or a sign that I am going over to the dark side, or that I’m unknowingly moving closer to the ranks of middle-aged women? I’m only 30! It’s too soon for me to cross over to the next advertising category.
So why did I watch The House Next Door last night? The short answer is, it’s December. There are no new shows coming on, my DVR is nearly empty, and I don’t have anything from Netflix right now. Those still aren’t legitimate excuses, though. There’s no reason for me to be watching Lifetime Movie Network!
Despite my horror at my suddenly lax standards, I must say that I was entertained watching this movie. Not in the nodding my head and thinking, “This is a surprisingly good movie” way. More like a Mystery Science Theater “this movie is so bad I can’t stop watching” way. The acting, writing, and plot were all monumentally bad. Let me give an overview of this awful little movie:
The House Next Door (2006) – Starring Laura Flynn Boyle, Mark Paul Gosselaar, and Colin Ferguson
Summary from IMDB: “In The House Next Door, Col (Flynn Boyle) and her husband Walker (Ferguson) find their comfortable and suburban lifestyle suddenly interrupted when Kim (Gosselaar), an intense and ambitious architect, builds a stunning, modern house on the empty lot next to their quaint, charming home. While neighbors are thrilled to have such an upscale and exquisite addition to their street, Col and Walker begin to question the new house when strange and disturbing events begin to happen to those who live in the home. As Col and Walker watch their new neighbors come and go, it becomes clear that the beautiful home brings out the worst in all those that enter it, by amplifying their fears and frailties until it leads to disgrace, accidents, misfortunes and even death.”
If it sounds like a rip-off of Amityville, that’s because it is. It’s an updated, even campier version of that old movie series. The acting was way over the top, particularly by most of the supporting cast. Laura Flynn Boyle, who I will always remember as Donna Hayward on Twin Peaks, was okay as the troubled heroine, but I was too distracted by her appearance to pay much attention to her acting. What happened to this woman? She used to be strikingly attractive, but now she is scary. At least she has gained a little weight since her emaciated-looking days on The Practice, but now her lips are the main problem. She’s had one too many collagen injections!
See what I mean?
She looked more like an older Liv Tyler than anything. But Laura Flynn Boyle shouldn’t look like Liv Tyler!
Colin Ferguson, who played her husband, has since moved on to bigger and better roles, like Jack Carter in Eureka, but he wasn’t too bad in this movie. That’s probably because he didn’t have much dialogue or screen time. As usual, this movie was more about the women. There was Col (what kind of name is that?) trying to get close enough to the truth of the house without falling prey to its evil. Then there were the neighborhood housewives, complete with gossip, infighting, jealousy, and distrust. And finally the unfortunate parade of ladies who moved into the evil house: a young pregnant woman worried that her lawyer husband would change because of his career, a seemingly happy woman who is mourning the loss of her son in Iraq, and a timid mother who lives under the iron fist of a controlling husband.
Mark Paul Gosselaar, of Saved by the Bell fame, was a headliner for the movie, but he didn’t have much screen time. At least I can give the casting department credit for choosing Gosselaar for the role of the confident, attractive, mysterious, “too good to be true” architect. This character, Kim (they couldn’t come up with a more masculine name?), was like a grown up version of Zack Morris. You know, like if Zack stayed cocky, annoying, and popular, but had a break from reality and came back a little crazy.
Perhaps the worst line of the whole movie came at the very end. A young couple is meeting with an architect and are unhappy with the house design ideas he has presented to them. They say they want something breathtaking. He pauses, then pulls out some plans that an architect he once worked with gave him (that would be Kim, and the plans are the ones from the evil house). They study the plans for a moment, and then the woman says breathlessly, “It’s magical. It’s like the house is alive…” Cue the music, roll the credits. And so I sat staring blankly at the screen, wondering why I had spent two hours watching this movie.
So there you have it. I watched a Lifetime movie, and my mother in law wasn’t even at my house controlling the remote. Ahhhh. I feel better after this confession. What movies or tv shows have you been ashamed to admit that you have watched? Go ahead. Get it off your chest in the comments section! I know there are more of you out there. After all, there’s not really anything good to watch for the next few weeks. I think in times such as these, it is okay to fall off the wagon from time to time and watch some truly bad television.