Though Born Bad won't be on DVD until November, for those of us lucky enough to have Lifetime, the film made its World Premiere last night on the network.
Now, if you've read my notes before, you know I don't like to give away any spoilers; I'm not a journalist, I'm a fan, my point isn't to critique the film, it's to extol its virtues and make you want to see it even more than no doubt you already do. Therefore, I stay away from spoilers. This will be especially true in the case of Born Bad, as you're gonna have to wait a few months to get your hands on it. So the below impressions are general, and give nothing away whatsoever other than the basic plot.
Let's get that plot out of the way: when a family moves to a new town, their sweet teenage daughter (Bonnie Dennison), falls for the WRONG guy (Twilight and All The Boys Love Mandy Lane''s Michael Welch), a psychopathic drifter with homicidal proclivities, resulting in a nightmare for her parents ("Baywatch"s David Chokachi and "Dawson's Creek"s Meredith Monroe). Ah, dating.
What we have here is a good, old-fashioned thriller - no monsters or creatures or anything paranormal at all, just a fascinating and frightening look at the depths of depravity to which can sink the most terrifying beast known to man: man. Jared Cohn's script paints a terrifying portrait of a family already at a crossroads in crisis. It's an all-too believable scenario which could conceivably befall any American family, allowing the horror it generates to resonate that much deeper.
But a script is only as good as the actors who bring it to life, so in this case, it's damn good. Michael Welch as "Denny" is fierce, and not in a co-opted Project Runway sense, but in the Webster's dictionary sense: "a) violently hostile or aggressive in temperament; b) given to fighting or killing." I mentioned in my profile of Mr. Welch that in the fine, fine film All The Boys Love Mandy Lane in which he played a similar type of character, that his brutally frightening potential hadn't yet been fully-tapped - it has been now. Welch electrifies every second he's on screen, deftly balancing the suave seductor and focused sociopath every good serial killer needs be. Dude rocked it, for real.
Bonnie Dennison ("Guiding Light") as doe-eyed daughter "Bonnie" manages a fine balancing act of her own, convincingly naive while never helpless. I'll admit to not being familiar with Ms. Dennison before this, but I thought she was right for the role of a good-girl just bad enough to get in major trouble; when her name turns up on DVD boxes in the future - as it's sure to do - I'll definitely check them out.
Meredith Monroe and David Chokachi as the parents at the center of this whirlwind also excelled, and in roles I for one wasn't used to seeing them play: Chokachi as the concerned parent almost helpless in the face of primal terror, and Monroe as an unsuspectingly powerful matriarch. So for me, at least, both really showed their range, and I liked what I saw. Aces.
Other cast standouts include Donnabella Mortel as "Dana," Gerald Webb (Battle of Los Angeles, 2012 Ice Age) as "Nate" and Bill Oberst Jr. (Princess and the Pony, upcoming A Haunting in Salem[!!!]) as "Gary." Sure, I could tell you more about the characters they play, but that might stray into the territory of spoilers. Or it might not. Either way, I'll say no more.
Overall, then, what you have here is a chilling psychological thriller that rings all too true and hits way too close to home, just as all great films of this sort should do. Cohn, who also directed, has crafted a film of frightening intimacy, one that draws you into both sides of this maniacal struggle and and squeezes your heart from the first frame to the last, thanks especially to the barrage of fine performances anchored by that of Michael Welch. He's up there with Mega Shark in my pantheon of greatest Asylum villains.
No word yet if Lifetime will be rerunning this one any time soon (I'll keep you posted, no worries), but even if you have to wait until November and the film's DVD release, trust me: it'll be worth every second.