Why I'm saying Goodbye to Vocal
When I first discovered Vocal, it was like a dream come true. A place where I could write and get paid for it? Sign me up! My blossoming love for movies and movie review only further fostered my love for this platform and, when it started out, it was all fun and games. I was in college, Vocal had me in what one could call their Newbie's Spotlight, and the easy money had me feeling like Scrooge McDuck swimming around in his pool of cash. In my delusions of grandeur, I thought that if I kept it up, I could start making a living wage and forego any post-graduation job hunting.
Lifetime Review: 'Bodyguard Seduction'
Synopsis: Charly Huxton (Jessica Morris) is a beautiful model and owner of a Fortune 500 fashion company. But her fame and success come at a price. Not only is the public forever clamoring for details about her personal life, but she's recently received a death threat. Much to Charly's chagrin, her business partner and board members agree she should hire a bodyguard while the police investigate the threat. Initially, Charly is less than receptive to Jonathan Makepeace (Ross Jirgl), the man hired for the job. But over time, Charly begins to warm up to Jonathan's bold personality and compassionate heart--as well as his drop dead gorgeous looks. But as the two grow closer, the threats against Charly intensify and threaten to destroy everything she's built. How will Charly get out of this mess--and who can she really trust?
Lifetime Review: 'Dying for a Family'
Synopsis: Sisters Darcie and Hannah Williams (Maddy Hillis and Alaska Leigh) both agree that they lucked out with their latest foster parents. They've been with Gillian and Keith Parks (Corina Akeson and Jay Hindle) for a few years now and the well-to-do couple has finally given Darcie and Hannah a stable home again. But on the night they announce their plan to formally adopt the sisters, their happy life comes crashing down. After Gillian and Hannah get into a fight, Hannah sneaks out of the house and is nowhere to be found the next day. While the police are certain it's a simple case of a runaway teen, Darcie knows her sister wouldn't abandon her without a word of explanation and starts her own investigation into Hannah's disappearance. But the secrets Darcie uncovers could cost her her family...and her life.
Lifetime Review: 'Disappearance in Yellowstone'
Synopsis: Jessie Gephart (Lucie Guest) is an exasperated mother on the run. Fleeing her abusive ex-husband with her daughter Michelle (Cassandra Sawtell) in tow, Jessie finds herself at odds with a daughter who doesn't know the truth about her father and resents her mother for uprooting her life. When their car breaks down while passing through Yellowstone National Park, Jessie leaves to get help. But when she returns to the car with mechanic Grant (Jonathan Scarfe), Jessie's horrified to find the car empty. Things go from bad to worse when the local police learn that Michelle has been reported missing by her father, forcing Jessie and Grant to evade the law while trying to rescue Michelle. But can they find her in time to save Michelle from a brutal end at the hands of her psychotic captor?
Lifetime Review: 'Big Lies in a Small Town'
Synopsis: When Rachel Baker (Rhonda Dent) and her daughter Hannah (Kristina Paras) began their trip to the college where Hannah would be starting her freshman year, it was a fun mother-daughter expedition. But things take a turn when the Bakers end up in a car crash, with Rachel waking up two days later in a small town medical center. To Rachel's horror, Hannah wasn't found in the car with her, and with the local police dragging their feet, Rachel takes the investigation into her own hands. But as Rachel gets closer to the truth, she begins receiving anonymous threats and the people around her start turning up dead. Rachel will have to stay on her toes if she wants to find Hannah and escape this town with her life...
Lifetime Review: 'Secret Lives of College Escorts'
Synopsis: One night out changed everything for college student Eve Baker (Pilot Paisley-Rose). The night ended with her best friend Monica (Emily Ram) being killed in a hit-and-run, and the incident resulted in her being cut from the school volleyball team and having her athletic scholarship revoked. In desperate need of another way to pay her tuition fees, a great opportunity falls in Eve's lap: a job working for the college attracting donors. The position is a dream come true for Eve, as not only is the pay great, but she gets to work under Carla Preston (Laurie Fortier), a well-known businesswoman and Eve's long-time inspiration. But what Eve doesn't know is that her dream job is actually a front for an escort service--one which Carla has gone to extremes to keep from being exposed. Will figuring out the truth cost Eve more than just a lucrative job?
Film Review: 'Moxie'
Synopsis: Vivian Carter (Hadley Robinson) is an introverted 16-year-old hoping to keep off the radar during her junior year at Rockport High School. But that all changes when she meets Lucy Hernandez (Alycia Pascual-Peña). A bold and unapologetic new student, Lucy speaking her mind in class and standing up to oafish jock Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger) opens Vivian's eyes to the rampant sexism of Rockport High. After stumbling across some memorabilia from her mother's time as a feminist activist, Vivian gets an idea: publish an anonymous zine at her school dubbed "Moxie" calling for the student body to rise up against their school's toxicity. But as things progress, Vivian realizes that anonymously starting a revolution isn't going to be easy--and it may come with some unforeseen consequences. Will the power of Moxie prevail? Or will the status quo reign supreme?
Lifetime Review: 'The Secret Lives of College Freshmen'
Synopsis: Hannah Marks (Sarah Grey) has just started college with her best friend Jodie Mays (Raylene Harewood) and their first few days are great. Not only do they score a luxurious dorm room, but Hannah is eager to have her favorite author Andrew Hampton (Oliver Rice) as her English professor. But it's not long into the semester before they learn something horrifying: the last resident of their dorm was Amy Hines (Kimi Alexander), a student who fell out the window to her death. While it was initially ruled a tragic suicide, a video circulated around campus suggests Amy was actually murdered. When Hannah discovers Amy's diary and learns more about the events surrounding her death, she begins to wonder if Andrew--who she has become romantically entangled with--knows more about what happened than he claims. Once things go from bad to worse on campus, it's up to Hannah to uncover the truth before her freshman year comes to an untimely end.
Lifetime Review: 'Love Triangle Nightmare'
Synopsis: Divorce is rarely easy, and that's certainly the case for Brittany Conrad (Glenda Braganza). Her ex-husband Austin (Tomas Chovanec) is reluctant to sign the papers and Brittany's daughter Emma (Sadie Laflamme-Snow) is taking the split hard. That's why Brittany's friends decide to surprise her with a "divorce party weekend" that will allow her to rest and recharge. While Brittany finds it to be a little odd, something good seems to come from it: she meets Jake Rich (Jeff Teravainen), a charming doctor who seems to be just what she's looking for after all she went through with Austin. But Brittany's second chance at love isn't going to be like the movies. Not only does she have to contend with a persistent ex and a two-faced friend, but her dashing new beau has a dark past--and a willingness to resort to violent extremes to keep others from interfering with his and Brittany's relationship. This whirlwind romance could cost Brittany dearly...
Lifetime Review: 'In Love With My Partner's Wife'
Synopsis: Frank Miller (Jonathan Stoddard) is a respected police detective with a few skeletons in his closet. Not only is he a mole working for the very criminal his department is pursuing, but he's also developed a habit of abusing his wife Eve (Gina Vitori). The only person to pick up on Frank's true nature is his partner Paul Ford (Andrew Spach), who eventually convinces Eve to let him help her escape her husband's cruelty. But just as Eve begins to feel safe enough to acknowledge her feelings for Paul, Frank makes it clear he won't let her go so easily. After Frank frames Paul as a dirty cop, Paul and Eve are forced to hide out as they fight to clear Paul's name and expose the truth about Frank once and for all.
Lifetime Review: 'She Is Not Your Daughter'
Synopsis: Liza Morton (Alicia Leigh Willis) thought she had a perfect life. She and her husband Bob (Jon Briddell) both have thriving careers, they have a beautiful home, and their daughter May (Emily Topper) is on the verge of starting her freshman year of college. But after Liza takes notice of her husband's strange behavior, Bob confesses a shocking secret: May is not their biological daughter. Now not only is Liza grappling with learning her family is built on a lie, but she also has to deal with May's birth mother Jill (Katelin Chesna) stalking them and making threats. Can the Mortons withstand this devastating revelation...and can they survive the past coming back to haunt them?
Short Film Reviews: 'S' Titles
She Must Vanish: While mostly set on a beach like the one pictured above, She Must Vanish is a horror flick that's far from sunny. The film is about Mia (Anne-Carolyn Binette), a witch in a small town whose grisly agenda invokes an equally disturbing response from the townspeople. In addition to being morbid, She Must Vanish gets off to a slow start and leaves a lot of its plot points intentionally vague. Depending on your narrative preferences, you'll either enjoy the chance to fill in the blanks yourself or start pulling your hair out. Personally, the ambiguity (which manifests through the dialogue) is more frustrating than intriguing and calls attention to how bare-bones the story is. The minimalist cast gives good performances, the cinematography and sound design are appropriately spooky, and the conclusion is particularly ominous in its implications. But with the buildup to this ending being so lackluster, those good qualities can only carry the movie so far.