Lifetime Review: 'Killer Single Dad'
Cameron Jebo's portrayal of a deranged sperm donor saves this Lifetime thriller from mediocrity.
(WARNING: Killer Single Dad is the kind of movie that can't be talked about without revealing potential spoilers, so anyone wanting to go into this movie untainted might want to click away).
Motherhood comes with challenges, and this can't be truer for Jennifer Munroe (Kaitlyn Black). Having recently discovered her husband Matt (Robert Parks-Valletta) had cheated on her, Jennifer is now living with her father John (Paul Messinger) and preparing for the arrival of her infant son. Thankfully, she has a new godsend of a friend in Garret (Cameron Jebo), who actually came to her rescue when she collapsed following an argument with Matt. Garret quickly becomes close with both Jennifer and her father, much to the chagrin of Matt.
But as it turns out, Matt might have a reason to be wary of Garret. As it turns out, Garret donated sperm in college, which was used by Matt and Jennifer to get pregnant. Following the tragic death of his wife and two children, Garret decided to track down the children fathered by his sperm in order to reclaim his family. Having already "retrieved" one of his children, Garret is determined to take Jennifer's son as his own--and is willing to destroy anyone who gets in his way.
Many Lifetime movies (especially ones with well-worn storylines) live or die by the quality of their antagonist, and that's where Killer Single Dad shines. As played by Cameron Jebo, a Lifetime regular in the making, Garret is the type of villain that can make you want to throw a shoe at your TV one minute, but then make you feel just the tiniest inkling of sympathy the next despite your better judgment. Throughout the movie, for all of Garret's psychotic and demented actions against anyone who interferes with his plans, it's clear that he (in his own twisted way) loves his children and wants to be with them. That allows his character to take on some depth, even if it isn't built on more than it could have been.
Elsewhere, the casting is fairly solid, even if the script doesn't give them a whole lot to work with. Kaitlyn Black manages to play a fiercely protective and enduring protagonist in the film's intense finale, making up for Jennifer's absurdly naive trust in Garret (a man she barely knew) over the course of the film, with the climax giving her a brief but powerful scene of comforting her newborn before facing off with Garret in a cathartic climax. Paul Messinger is solid as Jennifer's doting if not equally overly trusting father, while Robert Parks-Valletta plays the Jerk Ex trope with enough petty rudeness to believably fall out of Jennifer's trust, while still remaining sympathetic when it becomes clear he's right to be suspicious of Garret's intentions.
Plotting wise, Killer Single Dad is fairly average. The middle part, which consists of Garret integrating himself into Jennifer's life and even going after the last of the three kids produced by his sperm, has sporadic moments of drama and tension, leaving it with even odds on whether or not that will keep a viewer from becoming restless while watching. The film does a spin on the well-worn kidnapping plot, with both the sperm donor aspect and the fact that the kidnapper is a man, adding a surprising subversion of gender norms to this Lifetime thriller.
While Killer Single Dad is far from Lifetime Classic material, it's a fairly solid thriller with great talent behind its' main villain and an intense climax that is well worth the wait. If you see it come on while you're doing laundry or cleaning, keep it on to make the work go by faster. It'll also help keep you from raging out over Garret's more repulsive moments or over Jennifer's ignorance over Garret's craziness.
Score: 6 out of 10 spy-cam baby monitors.