Sometimes a movie title resonates in unintentional ways. In the case of "A Mother's Nightmare" (8 tonight, Lifetime) little did I know I would be the mother and watching this film would be my nightmare.
OK, that's melodramatic. But watching this movie evoked that silent scream in me, you know, that rage you feel when something on screen is just too ridiculous or when characters do things too darn stupid to bear.
When we first meet 17-year-old sociopath Vanessa (Jessica Lowndes) she's being thrown out of a funeral for reasons that aren't clear. Next thing we know the orphan is sent to a new town and new foster care family by her social worker.
Meanwhile, 16-year-old Chris (Grant Gustin) is sad; he's recovering from being dumped by his first love and taking it out on his mother Maddie (Annabeth Gish).
Vanessa ends up at the same school as Chris, and before you know it, she's activating her push-up bra and helping Chris forget about that broken heart. In short order, he's neglecting his best friends, cutting classes, skipping out on track team practices, and drinking and drugging. The drinking part is particularly bad because Chris' father was a violent drunk, something that tore the family apart.
Momma doesn't quite trust Vanessa but she can't figure out why. And then when she does, Vanessa has such a hold on her son, mom is powerless.
And that's what drove me crazy about this film: mom's weakness. Gish's Maddie is beyond a doormat; it seems like the actress just decided to get through the movie with her dignity relatively unscathed, collect the paycheck and forget it ever happened. I can understand her willingness to detach from the script. I mean, say you discover your 16-year-old son in bed with his 17-year-old girlfriend in the middle of the day. Would you a)lose your mind and shake whomever you get your hands on? b) restrain your fury/horror, escort the heifer out and have a long sometime loud talk with the boy? or c) let your son storm out the room and then turn to the lingering girlfriend and tell her through clenched teeth, "Chris and I generally don't entertain in our bedrooms!"
Or say the girlfriend accuses your son of rape and everybody in town turns against him and you're getting threatening phone calls and emails at home. Do you think it's wise to send your son to school? Or let him take a walk alone through town?
Things are so sad that when momma Maddie finally tries to get tough ("Don't mess with me!), Vanessa blows her off with a threat about the perils of messing with a minor. The comment is enough to shake mom who just walks away.
There were times when I thought maybe the twist was going to be that mother Maddie was in cahoots with crazy Vanessa to get rid of her son.
I can't proclaim "A Mother's Nightmare" THE WORST LIFETIME MOVIE EVER because that's too sweeping a statement without hours of research. (Accuracy matters!) But I think it's fair to call it THE MOST IRRITATING LIFETIME MOVIE THIS YEAR, a veritable attack on the institution of motherhood and two hours of nonsensical lunacy. You've been warned.