‘Pretty Cheaters, Deadly Lies’ Review: Lifetime offers a pacy thriller with a twisted case of blackmail
Madison reflects a character tormented by her inner insecurities of not being a good daughter to her single dad but where does that take her?
Spoilers for ‘Pretty Cheaters, Deadly Lies’
Lifetime has a penchant for doling out thriller flicks and its latest - ‘Pretty Cheaters, Deadly Lies - will pretty much have you on the edge of your seat. The problem with lying and blackmail is that once one gets caught in its vicious cycle, the coming out of it part is truly hard.
As is exemplified from its title, the movie has a scandal at the center that is on the verge of being out. The antagonist, Madison (Sydney Meyer), a high school teen treads dangerous territory with her antics. Madison reflects a character tormented by her inner insecurities of not being a good daughter to her single dad, Michael Willits (Sebastien Roberts), and always feels pressured to compete with her outstanding cousin Hannah Fetcher (Keara Graves). The movie portrays a sharp contrast between the two teens. While Madison is a rich spoilt brat, Hannah has to sail the rough waters to win a scholarship so her mother Amanda (Kate Drummond) does not have to work extra as a nurse.
The movie at every point highlights the strong contrast in the two leading ladies' demeanor and lifestyle. While Madison is pro with drugs, consumes alcohol in school, gets her academic work done by her schoolmates by paying them and is into rash driving, Hannah is the opposite; She is the captain of the cheerleading squad excels in studies and exudes a good moral character. However, this moral character comes under the scanner when Hannah is drugged by Madison and her cousin sets off a dangerous game. Madison is holding Hannah's good reputation to ransom and gets her at her beck and call. She takes perverse pleasure in blackmailing Hannah and watching the scared girl do her bidding.
Madison is unstoppable and it's not just once but many times that she wants to use Hannah. In a way, she enslaves Hannah’s mind with constant mental harassment and blackmailing whenever she refuses to succumb to her wishes. The movie gains pace right from the beginning and goes even more viciously into the narrative with a murder and a person landing in a coma.
Coming to the film’s direction, the movie which had Leo Scherman in the director’s chair was shot with all its sobriety considering that it had a scandal at the center. The scene where Madison drugs Hannah and blackmails her was shot with a bit of abstinence. This is probably to ensure the family-oriented thriller does not fall in the X-rated category. Even the incident where Hannah’s love interest faces a brutal car accident due to being drugged does not get registered in the viewer’s mind as the scene was shot subtly and escapes the horrendous imagery. While Scherman’s camera portrayed such significant scenes with a moderate temperament, it did fare well in conveying the vices in the personalities of actors.
Lifetime has done a commendable job in bringing out a humane side to Madison as well (if you can call it that). Sometimes you are torn between trying to understand the twisted mind of Madison. Besides being a gory teen villain, she is a vulnerable person too. She just wants to be her daddy’s daughter and gain her father’s trust and love which he had forgotten to bestow on her since his wife's death. It is particularly this hollowness in life due to the absence of a mother that conditions Madison’s immoral conduct making the viewer empathize with her at one point. All over the movie is a go-to for crime thriller fans who love fast-paced plots and complex characters.
'Pretty Cheaters, Deadly Lies' premieres on November 21 at 8 pm ET on Lifetime Movie Network.