'The Wrong Cheerleader Coach' Review: Chilling psychological rollercoaster unravels mental health issues
Lifetime's latest film on cheerleading is an interesting one that you wouldn't want to miss. ‘The Wrong Cheerleader Coach’ is one film that explores the theme of deteriorating mental health spurred by a tragic past to the extent that it can instigate serious crimes such as murder.
The film uses the template of cheerleading and shows its gory side with a vicious coach on the team. The film follows an architect and father Jon (Corin Nemec) and his daughter Hanna (Madi Burton) who move from Chicago to California to start a new life after the demise of Hanna’s mother.
The father-daughter duo is elated when the head cheerleader coach Ms Burke (Vivica A Fox) invites Hanna to join the squad. Hanna is a smart, intelligent and obedient daughter as well as a wonderful cheerleader who can prove to be an asset for the team. However, the path to joining the cheerleading team comes with an uphill task. She is made to believe that Ms Burke prefers to have girls on her team whom she has already trained in the past. Hanna does not fall in that category.
This thought is etched in her mind by the villian, new assistant coach Devan (Johanna Liauw). Devan is eerily obsessed with Hanna’s father Jon as she craves the attention of older men, which she makes abundantly clear. Her obsession with Jon gradually gives rise to neurotic behavior which includes verbally abusing people, issuing death threats and even murders. The film gives ample screen space to the remorseless endeavors of Devan as she pursues Jon. She always tries to sneak into the father and daughter's lives by being an uninvited guest, be it through private cheerleading coaching or over lunch or just driving Hanna to her home, she does it all. Her manic behavior and mental issues are reflected by the fact that she disparages her well-wishers such as her own psychologist and trainer who try to politely give her advice.
Something about her irks the viewer and we are intrigued to know why exactly does she behave this way. This is revealed in the second half of the film where we learn that she was raised as a single child and holds a grudge against her mom for leaving her and eloping with someone else. As a lonely child with tendencies to overthink, she is obsessed with her father. Her tumultuous childhood and growing up years are partly devoid of the warmth of a parent, so now she tries to see herself in Hanna, who is also a single child.
However, her nature is not at all protective but rather cold-blooded once she learns that Hanna’s father is not interested in a romantic relationship with her. Moreover, what makes her more furious is that Jon is seeing another woman named Melissa (Bailey Kai), a project manager and his colleague. While Jon, Hanna and Melissa have an organic relationship, Devan is overcome with fear that she might lose Jon. The film’s climax portrays the height of Devan’s fiendish actions.
On the whole, ‘The Wrong Cheerleader Coach’ is a highly unpredictable movie, unlike many Lifetime films. It comes with edgy plot twists and a seething narrative that thrills the viewers. The film is replete with upbeat music, dazzling cheerleading moves, squad goals, passion for a glamorous activity and most explicitly uncovers mental health issues. Coming to the actors, all of them have nailed their parts but Liauw steals the show with her psychologically complex role. She successfully makes one feel unsettled with her gory deeds but at the same time makes one a bit empathetic towards her condition. The film justifies its title, so get on to ride on a psychological rollercoaster and watch it.
The film will release on Lifetime movies on Saturday, October 17, 2020, at 8 pm ET.