Sunday, 23 June 2024

Lifetime true crime movies take center stage for month of June


The Lifetime cable channel regularly churns out crime movies that are “Ripped from the Headlines,” and the month of June will feature more movies than normally, with the biggest star being Teri Hatcher in “The Killer Inside: The Ruth Finley Story.”

Known for her television roles, Hatcher portrayed Lois Lane in the series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” followed later in the role of Susan Mayer in the long-running “Desperate Housewives” series. She was also Paris Carver in the James Bond film “Tomorrow Never Dies.”

A Lifetime movie will debut every Friday and Saturday in June beginning with “The Girl Locked Upstairs: The Tanya Katch Story” on Friday, June 8th. Tanya (Jordyn Ashley Olsen) was fourteen and at risk, struggling with an unhappy home life and a victim of bullying at her new school.

Feeling isolated and lonely, she is befriended by Tom Hose (Robert Baker), the school’s security guard, who manages to lure Tanya to his home, where he held her captive and sexually abused her for over a decade.

Convinced he had Tanya brainwashed and that she would never attempt an escape, Tom eventually allows her to take on a part-time job. Out from under Tom’s watchful eye, Tanya finally finds the courage to take a dangerous step toward freedom.

Following the premiere, Lifetime will debut “Beyond the Headlines: The Tanya Kach Story with Elizabeth Smart.” The documentary follows executive producer Elizabeth Smart as she meets the real-life Tanya Kach, who had vanished from a Pittsburgh suburb at such a young age.

Debuting the next day, “Gaslit by My Husband: The Morgan Metzer Story,” based on a true story, follows Morgan (Jana Kramer) and Rodney Metzer (Austin Nichols), who were childhood sweethearts and married by the time Morgan was just 21 years old.

The couple loses their first child shortly after birth but are overjoyed when they have twins a year later. Tensions begin to rise when Rodney loses his job and goes into debt. He blames their fights on Morgan’s drinking and convinces his wife that she pushed him down the stairs in a blackout rage.

The couple finally separates and Morgan’s life turns around, until Rodney gets diagnosed with cancer. Not long after, a masked intruder breaks into Morgan’s home and assaults her.

Rodney suspiciously shows up only minutes after the intruder is gone. When authorities question him, Rodney’s story doesn’t seem to be adding up. Does Rodney really have cancer and is he the hero he claims to be, or has he been gaslighting Morgan for decades?

On June 15, “Yoga Teacher Killer: The Kaitlin Armstrong Story” is based on the true events of a deadly love triangle that led authorities on an international manhunt.

When pro-cyclist Moriah Wilson (Larissa Dias) is found dead after a short-lived affair with fellow professional Colin Strickland (Kyle Schmid), all signs point to Texan yoga teacher and Strickland’s on-and-off girlfriend Kaitlin Armstrong (Caity Lotz).

After being accused of allegedly killing Wilson in a jealous rage, Armstrong disappears into thin air. On the run, Armstrong alters her looks in attempts to elude the authorities as they work to track her down, leading them to places that they never expected to find her.

“Danger in the Dorm,” premiering on June 16, is inspired by one of Ann Rule’s earliest true crime works, which tells the story of Kathleen (Clara Alexandrova) after the tragic murder of her childhood best friend.

Kathleen must shed her rebellious youthful spirit in order to catch a killer who’s preying on young girls around campus, even as her mother Joanne (Bethenny Frankel), tries to protect her daughter from suffering the same fate as her friend.

Launching on June 22nd, “The Bad Orphan” is a psychological drama centered on Jessica (Betsy Brandt) and Karl (Mark Taylor), loving parents of Rhiannon (Eve Edwards), who after years of trying to add to their family are elated to adopt Gabby (Chloe Coco Chapman).

The girl is an 8-year-old orphan born with personal challenges. The idea of a perfect family comes into question when the parents discover that Gabby is a troubled little girl, and the family begins to believe things aren’t what they seem.

As the unsettling behavior of the orphan child worsens and lies are uncovered, cracks in the family dynamic form with Jessica becoming increasingly concerned that Gabby is a threat to their family.

Lifetime has had a track record of delivering powerful films based on true stories. “Prosecuting Casey Anthony,” starring Rob Lowe as the prosecutor in the famous murder trial, was particularly stunning for what led to the controversial verdict.

“Natalee Holloway,” based on her mother’s book “Loving Natalee,” was a truly heartbreaking story about the disappearance of the 18-year-old while on vacation in Aruba.

Part of next week’s column will conclude with the two remaining original Lifetime crime movies, ending most notably with Teri Hatcher’s as the titular character in “The Killer Inside: The Ruth Finley Story.”

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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