Date of airing: May 12, 2019 (Lifetime)
Nielsen ratings information: 0.821 million viewers, 0.20 rating with Adults 18-49, 0.14 rating with Adults 18-34, 0.26 rating with Adults 25-54, 0.45 rating with Adults 50+
I think I will still need some time to get used to Lifetime movies, which are the polar opposite of Hallmark Channel movies. What is a happy-go-lucky world full of romance over there is a terrorizing world with killers in your own four walls over here. You never get to see anything naughty over there, but over here you will witness the villain of the plot stab an unsuspecting victim, and while that stab itself happened off-screen, you still get to hear it all happening, and you get to see the killer in their eyes, almost making it uncomfortable. The Hallmark Channel doesn’t know violence exist, and on the other side of the coin, Lifetime movies don’t know that romance exit, because almost everyone dies here.
This happens to be my second-ever Lifetime film, and there wasn’t any difficulty being a better flick than what HOMEKILLING QUEEN eventually was, since KILLER GRANDMA had a more streamlined plot, didn’t need to deal with a dozen characters, each of them having their own little arc, and therefore had time to focus on the plot at hand and make Ivonne as evil as possible, as she inches closer and closer to getting Annie for herself and getting rid of the parental competition. One can only hope that all the other Lifetime films will be equally focused on the very few characters and the premise, and HOMEKILLING QUEEN was kind of a sidestep into tame failure, because I did like the look of KILLER GRANDMA being this focused, even if my eyes were quite busy rolling their way straight to the back of my head. Everything I expected would happen did in fact happen, making this film one of the most predictable ones ever, and absolutely nothing that happened on screen was a surprise, although I was mad that Tom happened to be a survivor. You get to kill of Haley halfway through the movie in a scene that I found a little too drastic for a basic cable network film, but murdering the father of the child was apparently a big no-no, and I am wondering whether that murder was talked about while the script was being worked on, or if Lifetime original movie rules exist and one of them says to never kill of the main parental figures of the story.
Ivonne did work pretty well as the disturbed character in the house. Walking into town like she has some serious business to attend, she immediately killed the babysitter, she went on to kill the best friend, and she got to work to claim Annie for herself and turn her into Megan. The script itself never really focused on Ivonne’s deeper troubles and emotional problems though, and because KILLER GRANDMA never got into a lot of depth, I never know if her kill moments were in rage, whether she was just crazy, or if her murders were premeditated. Did she decide to leave the mental hospital, because she knew she would be kidnapping Annie and kill everyone in her way, or did all of the evil stuff happen because Ivonne had more than a few screws loose in her mind and she pretty much snapped every time something didn’t go her way? Was Ivonne a crazy person who could plead insanity and therefore get a smaller sentence, or was she a full-blown killer, and her husband was not the first one she murdered in her life? The fact that she ended up back in the hospital during the final scene proves that she plead insanity and therefore got a “lighter” sentence after the murders, but that can’t really be the case either, when you look at Haley’s murder and how premeditated that one was for sure.
Melissa and Tom were a boring couple. For some reason they had the money to afford this huge house with long hallways that might have led to multiple bedrooms, but Tom only seemed to have been a contractor, while Melissa was on her way to establish her own line of work, which means she was unemployed for most of the film’s events. Melissa and Tom were also a cliched couple, who didn’t do a lot to showcase that they were in love, and woke up and went to bed with all of their make-up and hairdos still in tact, as if they were characters in a film instead of being the most realest characters they could have been. I mean, there was a scene with Tom waking up, and his hair was still styled like he sat down on the make-up and hairstyle chair, before he woke out of bed. Moments like those kill the realism of the story, and sometimes I would wish for television movies to have just a little more realism. It would not have been hard to let Tom have a morning hairstyle, but for some reason it seemed impossible. And finally, Melissa and Tom were a couple who didn’t have each other’s back. She didn’t listen when he “warned” her about his mother’s potential weirdness when Ivonne arrived first, and Tom wasn’t even around for most of the time when Melissa was starting to deal with Ivonne’s crazy behavior, let alone did she talk to him about the weird occurrences that have happened since Ivonne arrived. Not to mention that neither Melissa nor Tom were awfully worried or emotionally distraught after finding out that their babysitter died, and only a few days later Melissa’s BFF was brutally murdered in her luxurious home. Seriously, how do the characters in this film earn the money to even afford the places they were living in?
I should also mention a few words about the climax, since it was both interesting and kind of weird for a life-and-death fight between to maternal figures. I shouldn’t have been expecting anything spectacular when Melissa and Ivonne started wrangling for the knife, but I was surprised that there was a fight to begin with, even if it wasn’t even necessary for Melissa to risk her life like that. She was locked inside Annie’s new room, and while the windows were locked, her ability to smash the window were not. But apparently Melissa forgot that she could throw something out the window and escape the house that way with Annie, but the film needed to have a one-on-one between the hero and the villain, and it needed to end like any other one-on-one between two characters wrangling for a knife or gun. It goes off or the knife goes into a chest, and for a second or two you don’t know who got it. Besides all the obvious story moves, KILLER GRANDMA also had all the necessary cliches to be a paint-by-numbers television movie. At least it was a television movie that fixated me, because I was invested in Ivonne’s evil moves, in spite of my eyes about to fall out of the back of my head.
Best part of the film: As mentioned before, it was Haley’s murder scene. It was not only graphic for a television movie, but it also drove the fact home that Ivonne is not to be fucked with. Even if Haley’s murder didn’t help to drive home whether she was just a crazy murderess or seriously and mentally disturbed.
Worst part of the film: Whoever investigated Courtney’s death and Haley’s murder didn’t have a clue. Ivonne left her fingerprints on Courtney’s phone and door knob, and apparently no one checked on Haley’s MacBook, or they would have found the incriminating video of Ivonne threatening kids with a knife, which could give good detectives a clue as to who murdered Haley.
Weirdest part of the film: Ivonne must have had the money as well, since her house was still hers after leaving the hospital, which she stayed in for a few years. So, losing your only daughter and murdering your husband gives you a trust fund you can dip your hands into on a regular basis?
Player of the film: Let’s give a round of applause for the staff at the mental institution, who let Ivonne go out way too early and never figured out that the woman was seriously disturbed. So much for American healthcare.