Lifetime Review: 'Framed by My Sister'
Scout Taylor-Compton deals with sibling drama times three in this terrifically written and cast Lifetime flick.
Raina Winston and Alex Maloney (Scout Taylor-Compton) may be twin sisters, but they've never been close. Raina's struggles with addiction only drove a further wedge between her and Alex, and the recent death of their mother has only compounded that animosity. But what's even worse is what happens not long after the funeral: Alex's husband David (Jon Prescott) is murdered and all the evidence points to Raina as the culprit! Raina fights to clear her name while Alex agonizes over whether or not she believes her sister is capable of murder. What they don't know is that they're linked to David's true killer: Trinity, the triplet they never knew they had who won't rest until her diabolical plan is complete.
Lifetime has done quite a few evil twin movies, but evil triplet movies are a lot less common. While the story is mostly still your usual tale of a long-lost sibling seeking revenge, Framed by My Sister makes the action compelling by keeping it moving at a steady pace. After half an hour, David is dead and Raina's race to prove her innocence is on. Running parallel to Raina's hunt for the truth is Trinity's efforts to make sure her plan is a success. It's never a secret who is behind everything and what their motivation is, allowing more time to revel in how unapologetically evil Trinity is. You'll be waiting in anticipation for Raina and Alex to figure out what's going on and the finale does not disappoint with its classic "stand-off in an isolated cabin" setup. It's a lengthy affair where the suspense is well-carried by the film's playing-three-roles-at-the-same-time lead actress. In short, Framed by My Sister takes many familiar Lifetime tropes and breathes life into them through a compelling narrative that has engaging characters to match.
Speaking of characters, the three leading ladies of this thriller are exceptionally developed. Each twin is given their own distinct personality, from the troubled but kind-hearted Raina to the sociopathic monster Trinity. Alex serves as a middle ground between her sisters. While she's certainly not as horrid as Trinity, her haughty attitude towards Raina's struggles with addiction and grief might have you loathing her as much as Trinity does. But as we learn over the course of the movie, Alex isn't all ice like Raina's boyfriend Joey thinks. For all her grievances with Raina, there's a part of her that loves her sister and wants to make amends. It's just buried under their childhood rivalry and the double whammy Alex gets hit by through the back-to-back deaths of her mother and husband. As upsetting as some of Alex's words to Raina are, you'll still want to see the sisters reconcile.
The supporting characters are just as solid, with some surprising me with how much they leapt off the screen. Those characters are David's mistress Holly, Joey's mother Faye, and significant side character Kendall. They all only appear on screen for a short time, but in that time, your heart will break for how their lives are negatively impacted by Trinity's actions. Holly's development is the most surprising of the three, as it would've been easy to write Holly as a generic homewrecking adulteress. More active members of the supporting cast include Raina's boyfriend/co-worker Joey and Alex's husband David. Joey is a lovably loyal boyfriend while David is a realistically slimy jerk. He's a two-timing sleaze, but you can understand why Holly was in love with him and why Alex was holding out hope of patching things up with him. Then there's Trinity's partner-in-crime Gloria and Alex's assistant Mary. While Mary is a flat "Heroine's Friend" character, Gloria makes for a fine co-antagonist, even if she can't outdo Trinity.
On the lower half of the character roster sit Detectives Sarzo and Rhodes. Neither of them is anywhere near as aggravating as other Lifetime movie cops, largely because of how damning the evidence against Raina looks from where they stand. At the same time, though, the detectives eventually go from being understandably overzealous to being inexcusably callous as the case--from their perspective--takes a dark turn. SPOILER ALERT You'd think Trinity (while posing as Raina) sending them a video tearfully confessing to her crimes and expressing an intent to commit suicide would alarm the detectives. But the most emotion it elicits is bemusement from Rhodes and anger from Sarzo. It's like she either missed the part of the video where "Raina" said she was going to take her own life or she was just furious at the thought of her perp dying before she could toss her in a cell. Either way, Sarzo's attitude consistently rubbed me the wrong way. On the bright side, with Sarzo and Rhodes abruptly disappearing from the movie shortly after receiving that video, I can imagine them facing some sort of punishment for their actions offscreen. Spoilers Over
Scout Taylor-Compton does a fantastic job taking on the daunting task of portraying triplets, taking on each woman's personality effortlessly. She'll have you feeling for Raina and Alex and rooting to see them survive their ordeal and finally bury the hatchet. It's clear, however, that Trinity is the triplet Taylor-Compton has the most fun playing, diving into the woman's deranged mind with a playful grin and singsong tone.
While Taylor-Compton's characters take up much of the spotlight, the supporting cast surrounding her are at their best. T.K. Richardson will make you love the wholesome Joey while Jon Prescott will have you hissing as David reveals himself to be an unfaithful pig. Arlene Victoria Conrad has as much fun on the dark side as Taylor-Compton, bringing quieter energy to the role of Trinity's immoral-but-not-as-psychotic henchwoman Gloria. Angie Teodora Dick and Ryan Stroud give strong performances as the dedicated but prickly detectives, which makes up for how gross Rhodes' and especially Sarzo's behavior gets as the film goes on. Angela Cole gives a surprisingly emotional performance as Holly, as do Shirley Claudia Charles and Gary Hudson as Faye and Kendall. Juliana Destefano gets the short end of the stick as Alex's bland assistant Mary, with Destefano occasionally getting tripped up delivery-wise on Mary's awkward bits of dialogue.
Solely based on it having a killer leading lady (ladies?), Framed by My Sister earns my recommendation. Scout Taylor-Compton does remarkable work playing triplets who couldn't be less alike psychologically if they tried. The strained sisterly relationship between Raina and Alex is what gives Framed by My Sister the emotional boost that put it on par with Lifetime's other evil twin features. The story may not stray too far from the formula, some characters may not be as dynamic as others, and there may be some bouts of wonky sound editing throughout the film. But as a whole, this twin thriller makes for an entertaining watch with its fun villainess and emotionally gripping story. If you have any, maybe even consider inviting your own siblings to watch with you--that is, if they're not busy trying to frame you for murder...
Score: 8 out of 10 Marcus Aurelius quotes.
About the Creator
Aspiring writer and film lover: Lifetime, Hallmark, indie, and anything else that strikes my interest. He/him.
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