Lifetime Review: 'Killer Dream Home'
A beautiful house is a gateway to drama and murder in this well-cast Lifetime thriller with lovable protagonists.
As soon as she saw the beautiful home on 1128 Maple Drive, aspiring architect Jules Grant (Maiara Walsh) fell in love with the magnificent house and convinced her husband Josh (John DeLuca) that it would be the perfect candidate for their new house flipping project. While Josh was initially apprehensive, both Grants find themselves charmed by the beautiful house and go to work remodeling it with the help of Josh's work friend Bliss Leary (Brooke Butler) and interior designer Morgan Dyer (Eve Mauro).
While Morgan initially appears to be the ideal designer and grows friendly with the Grants, Bliss and later Josh begin to notice oddities about her. In time, Jules also begins to realize that Morgan is not as genial as she initially appeared--and is prepared to do whatever she has to in order to get what she wants: 1128 Maple Drive to herself. Could the perfect house cost Jules her life?
As my friend and fellow film blogger Lisa Marie Bowman has often said, Lifetime movies often have their main characters living in beautiful homes. That habit is brought out in full force with Killer Dream Home, with the titular dream home being just about the largest and most beautiful house that I've seen on the channel in a long time. And since a great deal of the film's action takes place in this house, you get more than enough opportunity to ogle over it to your heart's content. You may even find yourself so in love with the house that you'll understand why Morgan's so obsessed with having it all to herself.
As a movie, though, Killer Dream Home has more to offer than just a hot house to drool over. It also boasts a plot that keeps its energy and drama flowing throughout, as well as an excellently cast trio of protagonists with chemistry that makes them easy to like and root for. Having previously appeared on my review plate as a pair of Lifetime villainesses, Maiara Walsh proves herself capable of doing the inverse as main heroine Jules Grant, transforming Jules into an upbeat protagonist you will easily root for. Refreshingly, while Jules strays toward the line of unlikability due to Morgan's machinations against her marriage, Jules never allows herself to go overboard and is quick to realize the truth when it comes to the surface. The same can be said for both Josh and Bliss, making for a trio of protagonists whose genre savvy makes them all the more likable, especially for regular Lifetime viewers.
John DeLuca measures up to Walsh in terms of how he makes Josh Grant an easy-to-like protagonist, though the surprise highlight of the lot would definitely be Brooke Butler as Bliss Leary. In addition to her adorable chemistry with DeLuca as we see the wholesome friendship between Bliss and Josh, Butler also thrives as the film's most keen-eyed character, being the first of the star trio to suspect something is off about Morgan and investigate her. While she mysteriously doesn't do anything with her knowledge until much later, Butler makes up for it with Bliss's snarky demeanor as Morgan's facade begins to crumble. Bliss is joined in the snarky supporting character department by quirky gay neighbor Perry, who is played well by Jon Klaft and isn't written as an over-the-top stereotype. SPOILER ALERT Unfortunately, like Taryn from Psycho Stripper (another film courtesy of The Ninth House and written/directed by Jake Helgren), Bliss is killed off at the tail-end of the third act, just when it seems she might avoid the "Expendable BFF Character" trope. Killer Dream Home makes up for it a little bit by having Jules and Josh at least acknowledge the loss of their friend in the flash-forward epilogue ending. Spoilers Over
Lastly, there's Eve Mauro as deranged interior designer Morgan Dyer, with Mauro clearly having a blast during Morgan's nuttier moments throughout the film and truly shining when the climax has Morgan at maximum craziness. But as effective as Mauro's performance is when Morgan is at her most deranged, her performance when Morgan is supposed to be a friendly confidante to Jules doesn't quite hit the mark. Mauro becomes strangely stiff during these moments, to the point where Jules may start to look stupid to some viewers for playing into Morgan's transparent manipulations. Thankfully, Morgan spends much more time letting her crazy flag fly, giving Mauro more time to spend in the part of her character she performs best in. The film also succeeds in surprising me regarding Morgan's ultimate motivation, making what I was expecting to be a generic reveal a bit more interesting.
Apart from Mauro's somewhat uneven performance, Killer Dream Home delivers when it comes to being an entertaining Lifetime-ian tale of architectural obsession. With an entertaining villainess, protagonists who are likable and smart, and a well-structured plot that leads up to an appropriately intense climax, Killer Dream Home is a movie that not only gives regular Lifetime fans the drama they crave, but also main protagonists who lack any of the unlikable qualities that have detracted from other Lifetime films (including the aforementioned Psycho Stripper). And if you're looking for beautiful scenery to chew on with your Lifetime-ian antics, Killer Dream Home has that to offer too.
Score: 9 out of 10 Corona beers (#PropsThatDidntAgeWell)