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Lifetime Review: 'Malicious Motives'

An act of kindness leads a troubled teen down a dark path in this deeply flawed, but well-written movie.

By Trevor WellsPublished 8 months ago 5 min read
7

Synopsis:

Katie Weber (Juliana Destefano) has a much different life than her classmate Ashley Sheperd (Revell Carpenter). While Ashley is popular and lives in a stable home with her loving parents, Katie is an outcast living under the guardianship of her cruel sister Sasha (Briana Femia). So when Katie learns that Ashley is in dire need of a partial liver transplant and that she has the same rare blood type as hers, she decides to become Ashley's donor, forging her sister's signature on the necessary forms. This quickly endears Katie to Ashley and her parents, Rena and Dan (Carrie Schroeder and Michael Woulters). But Katie's plans are jeopardized when Sasha finds out and threatens to expose her sister's lie to the Sheperds. What lengths is Katie willing to go to for a new life?

Story:

Much like Black Hearted Killer, Malicious Motives takes the act of organ donation and builds a Lifetime thriller around it. There's also a lot of emotion packed into Katie Weber's arc, not unlike the tearjerking story beats that can be found in Black Hearted Killer. But thanks to the movie's uneven pacing, a lot of this writing prowess ends up going to waste. While it's meant to be suspenseful to watch and wait for Katie's lies to fall apart on her, it instead feels routine and meandering. There's enough tension there to keep your attention from zoning out completely, especially when Ashley begins getting suspicious of Katie by the second act. But with how sluggishly its story progresses, a lot of the film's storytelling potential (particularly in regards to the emotional veins that run throughout Malicious Motives' narrative) is left untapped.

Characters:

While the story surrounding her may drag its feet, Katie Weber is a compellingly written character. Katie starts the movie as a shy, awkward, but overall ordinary girl. But after getting the chance to become a part of Ashley's perfect family, she slowly becomes obsessed with maintaining her place in the Sheperd household--by any means necessary. Given how miserable her life living under the thumb of her nasty sister is, it's hard not to root for Katie's plan of becoming an unofficial member of the Sheperd clan to work. When her scheming segues into acts of violence, your sympathy for Katie is still unlikely to waver. It's only near the finale that her actions take a turn into less forgivable territory, and even then, some scraps of empathy for the desperate girl might remain.

Katie's sympathetic characterization is strengthened by those of her sister Sasha and Sasha's boyfriend Brett. Brett is a pervy drug addict while Sasha, despite her claims of wanting to protect Katie from being taken advantage of, verbally abuses her sister and treats her like a live-in servant. That, on top of her greed and cavalier attitude towards the Sheperds, will have you hissing every time Sasha makes an appearance. Ironically, while Katie and Sasha are nowhere near as wealthy as the Sheperds, they turn out to be much more richly written than Ashley and her parents. Ashley is your standard non-snobby popular girl while Rena and Dan Sheperd are a standard pair of loving parents. Katie and Ashley's friendship is cute while it lasts, but the script doesn't get as much mileage out of it as it could've. Ashley and Rena also prove to have identical tastes in men, as Ashley's boyfriend Jacob is just as flat and near-completely irrelevant to the plot as Rena's husband.

Acting:

Every member of Malicious Motives' cast suffers from their share of bad acting moments. Even Juliana Destefano, who does a generally great job making Katie equal parts insane and tragic, fumbles through some of her lines. Of the cast, Michael Wouters stands out as the stiffest, with his barely-there role as Ashley's father only making his deadpan deliveries stick out even worse. LaRonn Marzett isn't too far behind and is similarly done no favors by his paper-thin role as Ashley's generically supportive boyfriend.

Revell Carpenter is stilted and inconsistent in the lead role, which unfortunately becomes a hindrance to the poignancy that's supposed to be felt in Ashley and Katie's ill-fated friendship. Carrie Schroeder's performance is similarly wooden in places, but she fares better in the emoting department whenever Rena opens up about her son's death and how scared she is of losing Ashley too. Briana Femia and Conner Floyd give more consistent performances as Sasha and Brett, bringing all the callous and vicious energy needed to play a heartlessly cold sister/guardian and her lecherous, drug-addled boyfriend.

Overall:

While it's nowhere near as dysfunctional as Ashley's liver, Malicious Motives still struggles to keep moving under the weight of its clunky pacing. The additional strain provided by the cast's frequently shaky acting doesn't help matters, as it keeps Daniel West's well-written script (barring all the bouts of awkward dialogue) from being fully realized onscreen. On the other hand, West's story is a compelling one when it gets the opportunity to spread its wings and Katie Weber is a nicely layered villain. She's also a unique antagonist in how you might spend more of the movie cheering her on rather than eagerly awaiting her defeat. So while the film's mistakes leave behind plenty of scars, Malicious Motives pulls through in the end and should serve as a good movie to watch while doing laundry, enjoying a lazy day in bed, or recuperating from surgery.

Score: 5.5 out of 10 IV catheters.

movie
7

About the Creator

Trevor Wells

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

Link to Facebook

Twitter: @TrevorWells98

Instagram: @trevorwells_16

Email: [email protected]

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Comments (4)

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  • Ford Kidd8 months ago

    Thank you! It is excellent as always

  • Excellent review but the score is a bit close to recent events for me.!!

  • Very well written review!

  • Clyde E. Dawkins8 months ago

    Very awesome review on a good LT film!

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