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Lifetime Review: 'If Walls Could Talk'

by Trevor Wells 6 months ago in review · updated 6 months ago
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If the walls of this film could talk, they'd say they were housing a real dud of a Lifetime drama.

Synopsis:

Life for graduate student Olivia Garland (Margo Parker) takes an alarming turn when her father Eric (Britt George) dies in a tragic accident. Taking a leave of absence from school, Olivia returns home to help her mother Rebecca (Nicole Danielle Watts) in her time of need. But Rebecca isn't just reeling from her loss. She's also become convinced that her family's home is haunted. After a frightening incident that leaves Rebecca with a broken hip, Olivia brings in Jake Winters (Conner Floyd), a physical therapist she recently met in town, to help her mother heal. But are Rebecca's misgivings about the house just a manifestation of her grief? Or is there more to her childhood home--and Jake--than Olivia realizes?

Story:

The unconvincing death scene that opens If Walls Could Talk (one of a few poorly executed action sequences that appear throughout the film) is an indication of the messy movie that follows it. While the script does try to throw the viewer off its scent, I was still able to see where the story was going. If you're like me and have a functioning knowledge of Lifetime movies and their catalog of actors, there's a good chance you'll see it coming too. Not helping matters is that outside of this minor misdirection, the plot is a lifeless retread of other Lifetime movies about a woman inviting a stranger into her life, only to later learn he may not be who he says he is. The haunting angle could've added a splash of something new, but that ends up going exactly where you think it goes. To add insult to injury, the final reveal is underwhelmingly basic, the villain's scheme is pretty convoluted, and the subpar climax is followed up by a bloated wrap-up. If you're watching it on a lazy day in bed, there's a good chance If Walls Could Talk will have you dozing off.

Characters:

It might've been a good idea for Rebecca to be the main protagonist instead of Olivia. While she's meant to be seen as a caring daughter, a lot of Olivia's behavior contradicts this. She dismisses her mother's fears as "her grief talking" and gets upset at her for wanting to sell the family house, apparently caring more about "preserving her childhood memories" than her mother's well-being. She also proves to be a less than competent heroine. She foregoes any background checks when hiring her mother a caregiver, keeps Rebecca out of the loop when she starts distrusting Jake, and refuses to leave the house after becomes clear it's dangerous to stay there. Rebecca, on the other hand, outdoes her daughter in both personality and intelligence. Not only is she a pure-hearted woman dealing with grief and terror, but she never stops trying to get away from her increasingly unsafe home and calls her daughter out for her idiocy. The only hitch is that her words never have any effect on her and thus, Rebecca can't do much to get Olivia to stop acting like a brainless horror movie damsel.

Jake Winters isn't much better, though instead of being dumb, he's just bland. His relationship arc with Olivia is similarly generic, feeling like a Hallmark romance with all the charm sucked out. It says something that some of the supporting characters are more appealing than Olivia and Jake. Neighbor Agnes is a sweet woman whose friendship with Agnes is an adorable antithesis to the strained relationship Rebecca has with her daughter. Even Officer Salero and Detective Hansen make a better impression than Olivia thanks to being proactive investigators who do what they can to help the Garlands. It's too bad Olivia's stubbornness keeps them from doing more. SPOILER ALERT The last prominent character is Rawlings, fugitive criminal and the true antagonist of If Walls Could Talk. There's not much to say about the man, as he's a paint-by-numbers lunatic with a cheap "eye for an eye" motivation for terrorizing Olivia and Rebecca. It's almost the same motive that Jake was thought to have when he was under suspicion, which subsequently robs the climax of any heat. Spoilers Over

Acting:

I can't testify to how Margo Parker was in her first Lifetime movie, Deadly Girls Night Out. But going off this film, I'm on the fence with her acting. While she does well in her character's more emotional moments, there are other moments when she plays Olivia with a blank face. At times, she makes it seem like Olivia is more irritated by her mother's supposed mental decline than concerned. Conner Floyd fares slightly better, doing as much as he can to inject charm into his empty slate of a character. Nicole Danielle Watts does the best of the main trio. She poignantly sells Rebecca's grief for her husband, fear over the possibility of being in danger in her own home, and frustration over having her worries and needs ignored.

Meredith Thomas brings her usual charm as Agnes while fellow Lifetime familiars Matthew Pohlkamp and Gina Vitori are solid as Detective Hansen and Officer Salero. SPOILER ALERT Joel Berti arguably gets the worst deal as Rawlings. His character doesn't really get to do anything until the last 10 minutes of the film, and even then, he doesn't get to do much other than try to kill Olivia while spouting cookie-cutter villain dialogue. Even the not-worth-mentioning-in-a-review exposition character Berti played in Picture Perfect Lies was better written than Rawlings. Spoilers Over

Overall:

While If Walls Could Talk isn't the worst house in the Lifetime cul-de-sac, it's definitely not one worth shelling out big bucks for. The film gets off to a slow start, and not only does it not pick up much speed throughout its runtime, but the script doesn't offer anything that makes sitting through those sluggish minutes worthwhile. The story and characters have all the depth of wallpaper, are as interesting as watching paint dry, and the latter is capped off with a letdown of a conclusion. So if you have to do some work around your hopefully non-haunted house and need some entertainment for the occasion, I'd look for a movie that doesn't carry the risk of making you fall asleep while you're doing laundry or washing dishes.

Score: 3 out of 10 owl omens.

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About the author

Trevor Wells

Aspiring writer and film blogger: Lifetime, Hallmark, indie, and anything else that strikes my interest. He/him.

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Twitter: @TrevorWells98

Instagram: @trevorwells_16

Email: [email protected]

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