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observation notes: ADOPTING TERROR

This past Saturday night marked the second time The Asylum premiered a film on the Lifetime network; last year it was Jared Cohn's Born Bad, and this time around it was Adopting Terror from writer - along with Nik Frank-Lehrer - and director Micho Rutare (Meteor Apocalypse). Like Born Bad, Adopting Terror was a thriller without creatures, aliens, natural disasters or pending global cataclysms, just a straight-up look at the evil men can do when properly motivated.

The film centers around Tim and Cheryl Broadbent, played by Sean Astin (Goonies, Lord of the Rings) and Samaire Armstrong (The O.C., Entourage) respectively - and their adoption of a lovely little baby girl, Mona. Only trouble is, Mona's biological father has just been released from prison and now he'll stop at nothing to be reunited with his daughter. What follows is a psychological game of cat-and-mouse, manipulations and intimidation, violence and the different degrees different people will go to in order to preserve and protect their families.

Adopting Terror is laden with powerful performances that elevate the film. The seemingly ageless Sean Astin is a loving father and husband, a sensible protector who as the film progresses, struggles to keep himself together amid the mounting strain to his family. Astin is a perfect Everyfather - if you'll allow the term - and thus when he finds himself pushed to the brink, the experience is tangible and resonant.

Samaire Armstrong also turns in a convincing performance as a first-time mother already a little unsure of her own abilities, an emotional subplot that only compounds once the real trouble starts popping off. Actress Monet Mazur plays the sleek yet wary, helpful but watchful social worker in charge of the Broadbent's case, and Michael Gross (Family Ties, Tremors 1-4) plays her boss. This marks Mr. Gross's second outing with The Asylum, 100 Million B.C. being the first time. This go-round, he brought his sister Mary Gross (Saturday Night Live, Troop Beverly Hills, FEDS), who has a one-scene cameo early on.

But for my money, the real scene-stealer here is Brendan Fehr (Final Destination, Ice Quake) as Mona's birth father, Kevin. He's the scariest kind of sociopath - the coolly vicious, stoically sadistic, stone-faced type. Fehr is a pure menace, a vibrant and brutally focused man blind to everything beyond his own agenda. Dude's got real chops, and they're on full display here. I want to see Fehr as Adopting Terror's Kevin fight Michael Welch as Born Bad's Denny; now there's a mega match-up.

Bottom line, Adopting Terror is a taut, well-paced, uncomfortably realistic thriller from set-up to payoff. It comes across simultaneously heartfelt, vicious, tense and suspenseful, and manages to mix in a few awesome, totally unexpected twists along the way to its pulse-pounding conclusion.

As of now, there is only one remaining scheduled broadcast of Adopting Terror on Lifetime: Saturday, April 28th at 6pm. After that, you might have to wait until the film's official DVD release on September 11th of this year.


  1. Call me crazy, but is Sean Astin wearing a kilt in the clan Austin tartan? I know. I know. I'm probably crazy.

    It's probably clan Campbell.

  2. Your wrong I'm not waiting till September its on air on lifetime right now July 14th.