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TV Movie Review: “The Grim Sleeper” is a Disturbing Murder Mystery

Once again, Lifetime is reiterating the fact that you should never accept rides from strangers.  Only this time they have taken a frightening and sympathetic route.

The film is based on the true story of a serial killer who went unknown for nearly 20 years killing dozens of women in Los Angeles beginning in the 1980s.   Known as “The Grim Sleeper,” he would shoot or strangle his victims before having sexual contact with them.  He would then take Polaroids of the dead, naked women and store them in his garage as keepsakes.  The film follows LA Weekly reporter, Christine Pelisek (Dreama Walker), as she persistently investigates these unsolved murders.  Things turn slightly more emotional when Christine finds out the families of the victims have no idea that their loved ones were killed by the same psychopathic murderer.  Accusations of racial discrimination surface when it becomes known that the killer is targeting African American women.  The victims’ families and Christine unite to finally push the police into finding “The Grim Sleeper” and put him to rest.

I particularly enjoyed this Lifetime murder mystery more than most for many reasons.  The lead actors all performed remarkably well, especially the star of the film, Dreama Walker.  Her portrayal as the feisty and amusing LA reporter was not only fun to watch, but touching as well.  There was much more to her character besides getting a career changing front page story.  She cared about the victims, and realized they all had someone that loved them.  It was interesting to see a reporter care from the start, instead of halfway through their investigation where they “grow a heart.”  The scene stealer was the man behind the eerie voice of “The Grim Sleeper.”  I prefer not to say who played the role of the terrorizing killer.  I know you can just look it up like I did before watching the film, but I recommend that you go in blindly if you haven’t heard anything about this story before.

Director Stanley T. Brooks did such an incredible job of keeping you locked in and dying to know “who done it,”  that I would hate to spoil that reveal for you now.  I will say that when you finally see “the sleeper” in the end shot, it is one of the most haunting faces that is almost impossible to forget.

There are a lot of elements to this film that will seem familiar to past Lifetime dramas; rape, murder, mystery, strong woman.  But after a repetitive streak of the usual story-line, “The Grim Sleeper” stands out among the rest with actually succeeding in getting the audience to care and look beyond a crazy killer.  We are reminded that every life matters, and if there is anything we can do to prevent actions like these from happening again, we should take them.  An example of that action in this film was notifying the press.  If you make enough “noise” somebody is bound to listen.

The film wasn’t perfect in every aspect.  There are some forced relationships and a few subpar supporting actors, but it doesn’t matter.  “The Grim Sleeper” achieves its goal as an entertaining and intriguing film that sends a valuable message.

“The Grim Sleeper” premieres Saturday, March 15 at 8pm ET/PT.

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com

TV Movie Review: David Arquette Gives a Deadly Smile in Lifetime’s Original Film ‘Happy Face Killer’

We should already be weary of accepting rides from strangers.  But when that stranger is an unhinged, truck driving, murderer, we should probably avoid hitch-hiking all together.

David Arquette (Scream) stars in the latest Lifetime drama, “Happy Face Killer.”  The film is based on the true story of Keith Jesperson, a Canadian serial killer who drew smiley faces on his victims.  Jesperson had a troubled childhood. He was abused mentally and physically by his father, and tormented by other children.  At a very young age he began torturing and killing animals.  He married at age 20, and fathered three kids.  It was after his divorce 14 years later that Jesperson began to unravel.  Once he was denied his dream job as a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman, he snapped and began to release his frustration on the helpless women he would pick up.

Lifetime once again takes a twisted and sick true story, and turns it into an amusing guilty pleasure.  This enjoyment is due greatly to Arquette’s unsettling portrayal as the deranged Keith Jesperson.  After some knowledge of his background and a quick set up for the film, the story moves rapidly into his multiple killings.  The audience is shown how Jesperson rapes, beats, and strangles the women to death.  We also see how the authorities dealt with the psychotic killer that taunted them by sending letters signed with a happy face.

The head detective on the case, Melinda Gand, was played adequately by Gloria Reuben (Lincoln ).  Lifetime films in general tend to have a weak supporting cast; made up for by strong leads.  However, in this case, Reuben’s performance lacked emotion and energy, providing only one facial expression throughout the entire film.  Luckily, Arquette’s switch from loving dad to enraged truck driver was delivered well enough to distract audiences from noticing any lack of talent from the other actors.

In comparison to other Lifetime true stories, “Happy Face Killer” does not drag.  This movie will keep you intrigued and dying to know what will set the killer off next.  Set your DVR’s and make sure the kiddos are in bed before watching this exciting and disturbing thriller.

“Happy Face Killer” premieres Saturday, March 1 on Lifetime, at 8pm ET /PT.

Originally posted on RedCarpetCrash.com