Sunday, January 15, 2017

Boyfriend Killer (MarVista Entertainment/Lifetime, 2017)

by Mark Gabrish Conlan • Copyright © 2017 by Mark Gabrish Conlan • All rights reserved

After Open Marriage Lifetime showed something called Boyfriend Killer, an ambiguous title because at first it wasn’t clear whether it would be about a boyfriend who killed his girlfriend or a girlfriend who killed her boyfriend. It turned out to be the latter: it begins with a scene in which Preston Durro (Michael Uribe) is racing down a road on his motorcycle when he’s chased and ultimately run off the road by a black SUV. Preston dies and the central characters are actually his parents, Sandra Cruz Durro (Barbie Castro) and her long-estranged husband Charles (Patrick Muldoon, surprisingly hot even though hardly at the league of the two young studs in Open Marriage!). The two broke up 10 years previously while Preston was still a boy, largely over Charles’ drinking problem and lack of ambition, but Charles agrees to stay behind and support Sandra over her grief at the loss of their son and also help her collect Preston’s things. Only they have a major conflict with the boyfriend killer of the title, Krystal Kellers (Kate Mansi, playing the part in the same sort of perky-psycho vein as Rose McGowan in the 1998 Lifetime movie Devil in the Flesh and Jodi Lynn O’Keefe duplicated less effectively in the 2000 sequel), whom we first saw in the middle of a knock-down drag-out argument with her father, oil tycoon Nathan Kellers (Frank Licari). It seems Nathan never liked Preston as a mate for his daughter and had someone quite different in mind for her, Jack Davis (Eric Aragon), a rising young executive at his company, and now that Preston is the victim of an (apparent) accident Nathan thinks it’s high time her daughter comes back to earth and marries Jack. What we don’t realize until nearly half the movie later is it was Jack who dumped Krystal; she was so possessive that she not only slipped a GPS tracker on his car but scratched nasty messages on his car door and the inner walls of his Jacuzzi telling him not to ignore her. Jack responded by telling her she had “issues” and she should see a therapist, and Krystal responded by latching onto Preston — who also got tired of her possessiveness and started sending her e-mails telling her to leave him alone and it was all over between them. That hasn’t stopped Krystal from telling Preston’s parents she had moved into his apartment two weeks before he died and from demanding his computer, ostensibly because she paid for it but really so she can have control of every unflattering thing he ever e-mailed, texted or posted to social media against her and delete it all. She presents herself as Preston’s fiancée and flashes an engagement ring which Charles, who previously had to bail Preston out of a gambling debt, knows his son couldn’t possibly have afforded. (Krystal seems to have stolen it from her mom’s things.)

Sandra and Charles finally get their hands on Preston’s laptop, then find that the external drive on which Krystal supposedly copied all Preston’s documents is missing the derogatory e-mails — though fortunately Sandra printed hard copies of them. Unfortunately, like a typically stupid 1930’s movie character, Sandra tells Krystal that she’s done this. Sandra also gets a back-door into Preston’s computer through his twink-ish friend Troy Kreieger (Miguel Fasa), with whose help she figures out Preston’s social-media passwords. Unfortunately, Troy is also a teenage boy with typical straight teenage boy desires, and Sandra worms the information out of him by seducing him. What’s more, she conjures up a plot to murder Jack Davis (ya remember Jack Davis?) and set Troy up to take the fall — only in the end Krystal also tries to kill Sandra, Sandra gets away and tries to flag down a car, not knowing that its driver is Sandra’s hired hit man Devin (Todd Bruno), an ex-con who actually killed Preston for Krystal. Fortunately a second car shows up and its occupant turns out to be Nathan Kellers, Krystal’s dad (ya remember Krystal’s dad?), and ultimately Krystal is taken alive, Jack Davis recovers from Krystal’s stab wounds and it seems the experience has reconciled Sandra and Charles to becoming a couple again. There’s nothing really wrong with Boyfriend Killer except we’ve seen it a million times already; the screenwriter is Christine Conradt but this time she seems merely to be following her formulae instead of legitimately extending them the way she did in The Bride He Bought Online (which she directed as well as wrote), and the direction by Alyn Darnay is functional and O.K. but not really inspired. There’s nothing really wrong with Boyfriend Killer but there’s nothing really right about it, either; Kate Mansi does Perky Psycho 101 well enough, but really, we’ve seen her likes hundreds of times before on this network, and neither Conradt nor Darnay threw in enough variations on the familiar formulae to get us to care this time.