Date of airing: May 11, 2019 (Lifetime)
Nielsen ratings information: 0.748 million viewers, 0.16 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.11 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.22 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.46 rating with Adults 50+, 0.26 rating with Females 18-49, 0.07 rating with Males 18-49, 0.16 rating with Females 18-34, 0.03 rating with Males 18-34
Between 2016 and 2017 I was watching a few dozen Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, since I wanted to expand my television horizon a little bit, watching shows from networks that I usually did not watch (that’s why I decided to pick up some of the Disney Channel family sitcoms, and now those turn out to be one of my favorite shows these days). I knew that other cable networks were airing their fair share of TV movie ware as well, but the amount of television movies was just too high, so why even think about watching one, when you never have the time to watch others? Well, this is a new review blog of mine, not even 200 posts heavy by the time of this writing, and I figured I could just try and watch more TV movies. After all, I have all the time in the world on weekends, so there basically is room for at least two television movies on weekends.
HOMEKILLING QUEEN happened to air right before I made the decision to watch more television movies, so it was naturally the very first non-Hallmark Channel television movie I picked up for a little watch, and holy cow, was this film a nice reminder of how happy and friendly and romantic the Hallmark Channel movies are, and how those are essentially set in their own little bright bubbly slow globe. One cable network to the left, and you might find premises that depict how evil the world actually is, and how quickly some people spiral down the path of hell to become monsters and murderers, and without any hesitation become villains in their own little plot. I was surprised and actually a bit shocked how freaking evil Whitney was during these 84 minutes, and I never imagined that a TV movie could turn out to be this violent and brutal. Granted, there was only one direct murder in this film, there was no blood, and no one got hit over the head with a tree branch or a walking cane, but after a few dozen of Hallmark Channel movies, consider me beaten to the ground after 84 minutes of Lifetime getting into the murder and potential serial killer business.
I mean, Whitney was essentially a serial killer in the making, right? She might not have laid a hand on Abby during the opening flashback murder scene, but who really knows what happened back then, and whether Whitney might or might not have poisoned Abby, which is why she collapsed during her run in the woods. She definitely killed Jason, as depicted midway through the film, and there was a sense that Whitney could have easily gone a few steps further to take her revenge of having to work a little harder to become Homecoming Queen. Just imagine how evil Whitney could have turned out to be when she had come to a realization that Natasha wasn’t the only competition in the race for Homecoming Queen – there were three other girls, but Whitney never seemed bothered about them. Probably because they never campaigned as hard as Natasha did, probably because they weren’t corrupt like Whitney was, who handed out expensive gifts like she was the richest bitch in town, and paying for a meaningless Homecoming crown was the only way she could have gotten that crown in the first place. The fact that Whitney murdered the drug dealer of the show to get the crown on her head at the end obviously means that she was unable to live for anything else, but the question remains how far she would have gotten, if the writers had included a subplot that had Natasha’s popularity in school on the rise, especially after her potentially positive reaction to the leaked nude photo. Maybe the boys in school liked that picture so much, they decided to “definitely” vote for her as queen after that?
The development of the film went through some drugs itself, as it began with the students beginning their school year, and immediately getting into the campaign of Homecoming Queen (and King, presumably). Not even a day later, the level of bullying at school was already on the rise, and the teachers were powerless against it, because nobody figured that Whitney is the bad bitch in school, and no one bothered to tell her to cut it out — probably because her family was donating the next piece of equipment to the school to keep it from falling apart, but I am even more surprised that none of the other students, with the exception of Natasha, decided to take a stand against Whitney. She was supposed to be the most popular and most-liked girl at school, but it didn’t look like that, because she never had a harem of girls walking after her, trying to emulate her every move, and praying the floor she walks on. That usually means she is not the most popular girl at school, and everything was just fake. Seemingly not even a week later, Whitney is being investigated by the school’s principal, and he is being blackmailed to drop that investigation after having sex with Whitney’s mother (that story by itself would have taken over an entire week’s worth of episodes on a daily soap opera). A little bit of Natasha’s drug-related back story later we got out first corpse, and suddenly Natasha is arrested herself. And before the film nears its climax, Natasha and her mother investigate Whitney on their own, even following Whitney’s family’s housemaid. And all this while Whitney’s father and Natasha’s boyfriend also played a role, albeit minor, and let’s not forget that the girls sometimes campaigned for the crown in-between momentous scenes. The 84 minutes of HOMEKILLING QUEEN felt like I was watching an entire season of soap opera television on a speed run — no room to take a breather or think about whether the story makes sense or not, and no room to let the characters flourish and be part of a dramatic story. Phew, I kind of need a round of detox after watching this film.
The evil attitude of the Manning family gave me something to chuckle about, although I’m pretty sure the whole deal was unintentionally funny. Seeing three generations of Manning women being evil little shits was already hilarious, but because they had nothing else to do than teaching Whitney how to be the queen and pressuring her to win that crown, it made me wonder whether Whitney’s mom and grandmother were murderers as well, and if they handed their killing genes over to Whitney, who couldn’t handle them at her stage. There was this sense of the grandmother having killed her lovers (the stories about the car accidents sounded awfully like premeditated murder), but that was just an allusion to her back story, which the writers decided to drop in that scene only and otherwise let it alone, because apparently no one cares about it (that’s not true, I care). What a shame though that none of Whitney’s mother figures were able to do the killing for the little one, considering how invested they were to have Whitney win the crown. I guess sleeping with the principal was the most hardest thing Whitney’s mom could have done for her little princess daughter?
Natasha didn’t get much of a back story herself, with the exception of her Oxycontin past, even though that one only looked like a plot device, just so Whitney has an opportunity to frame Natasha for something that makes a good and thrilling scene. At least it’s a back story that has been made use of, which I can’t say about most of the Hallmark Channel family films. Besides, during Natasha’s story, you can notice how little time the film had to even get into all of the events depicted here. Natasha’s mother and Whitney’s father had a thing going on, but it was never a real thing, because there was no screentime left for them to develop a thing. It makes me wonder if it had been a good idea to cut one of the stories or characters to just make room for some of the neglected things about HOMEKILLING QUEEN. Either the relationship between Whitney’s father and Natasha’s mother, the bullying at school, or maybe even Natasha’s boyfriend — but each of the stories letting the littlest amount of screentime possible hurt each of the stories.
Best part of the film: Whitney is a magician on the laptop. She managed to put a photoshopped picture together in seconds. She would be good in the Hollywood business, creating ads and billboards for movies and television shows.
Worst part of the film: So, Whitney and her mother just focused on the red car in the police video, not even thinking about the possibility that the detective’s police car might have just overtaken another car to get to Natasha’s? Convenient storytelling is convenient.
Weirdest part of the film: All this drama about becoming the Homecoming Queen of West Chester, and not a single word was lost about who was running for Homecoming King, and who won the title eventually, which means he would have been dancing with Natasha. Will there be a spin-off TV movie soon about the “Homekilling King?”
Player of the film: In a way, Whitney wins the award here, because she managed to keep her scheme up, since no one told or asked her to stop. She bullied her way through school without consequences. She murdered her way into prison, hoping that her parents would buy her out (like her mother did when it came to bail her out). Whitney ruled the school and she had everyone wrapped around her fingers. She was working harder on that status than working on becoming Homecoming Queen…