#EscapingTheNXIVMCult, #Mystery101, and more – TV Reviews

Table of Reviews

Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter – Review

Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother’s Fight to Save Her Daughter – Lifetime – 2 hours and 3 minutes

Escaping the NXIVM Cult: A Mother's Fight to Save Her Daughter

Catherine’s script has been turned down again and India’s baking business isn’t getting off the ground.  Catherine tries to help India understand that failure is a way for her to find her purpose.  It will take time but she can use this moment in her life for self-reflection.  During lunch, Julian tells Catherine about ESP (Executive Success Program) taught by a self-help group called NXIVM.  He says many of the women in his acting class spoke highly of it.  Catherine thinks this is something she can experience with her daughter.  During the seminar, they tell the class they can sign up for 5 introductory classes for $2400.  Julian apologies and says he is out.  Catherine and India, however, sign up.  They head to Albany for a week and live in Lauren’s townhome.  Soon the two are separated during classes and Catherine witness misogynistic acts.  She wants to leave but India wants to stay.  It will take a year for the mother and daughter to see each other face to face.  On India’s birthday, she has lost weight but looks happy.  So, Catherine lets her concerns go.  Until India makes a special birthday wish and $50,000 commitment.  Catherine knows her daughter has fallen into the deep end with NXIVM.  Bur, Catherine has no idea how dark this cult is until Bonnie calls.  Catherine must go public to save her daughter.

Based on Captive: A Mother’s Crusade to Save Her Daugther from the Terrifying Cult NXIVM by Catherine Oxenberg and Natasha Stoynoff, this follows a woman struggle to deprogram her daughter (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  NXIVM followed the four tactics of cults.  First, they picked the right targets by using a questionnaire.  They can pick the people who are missing something or looking for purpose.  India was looking for her purpose after her business failed.  Second, love bombing.  Everyone loves you and will do anything for you.  But in turn, you have to do and give everything to them.  Third, isolation.  The members live and work together every day.  Finally, keep control.  India signed over all her money.  Then, NXIVM took pictures and recorded secrets.  And anytime she was away, Allison texts her constantly.  These were all tactics to keep control of India no matter where she was located.  These tactics are used by cults and many other recruiting organizations to get more followers.  However, it’s how they treat the followers that matter.  India, like Sarah Edmondson, was abused and robbed by the NXIVM cult (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  With an article in the New York Times, the truth comes to light and it will finally spark the interest of the FBI.  This movie is a cautionary tale of how to not fall into these dark corners in society.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars

Have you ever felt really lost – India

All you have to do is trust me, trust me. Trust me – Allison

I don’t pretend to know all the answers – Keith

I got her into this. I am going to get her out of it – Catherine

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Mystery 101: Words Can Kill – Review

Mystery 101: Words Can Kill – HMM – 2 hours and 0 minutes

Mystery 101: Words Can Kill

Amy walks back to her office to get something she forgot.  She is knocked down by a shadowy figure and goes after him.  When she realizes he is gone, she calls Detective Travis.  Travis is overjoyed she called instead of investigating the break-in herself.  To forget the break-in, Amy focuses all her energy on the upcoming book festival.  At the festival, her father Grant is a huge hit.  But he is upset that his long-time rival, Rick, is there.  Years ago, Rick got his hands on Grant’s first novel and passed it off as his own with the help of his publisher Betsy.  Even though the book was a success for Rick, it was his only successful book.  After day 1 of the festival, Amy and Travis go back to Grant’s home.  Travis notices a man sitting outside of Grant’s home and checks it out.  Travis investigates and discovers the man is dead.  Grant has no idea who the man is nor why he is sitting outside his home.  Now, Travis is investigating 2 crimes: the break-in and the mystery man’s murder.  In the process, Grant is introduced to his new publisher Celia.  He is instantly attracted.  However, Grant discovers that Celia and Rick have a history that includes a restraining order.  With a new publisher and a new book, Grant outlook is looking up.  But when Betsy is murdered, Grant’s outlook will change from great to handcuffs.  Can Amy clear her father’s name?

While this is a compelling story, seasoned HMM fans will figure out ‘the who’ but not ‘the how’.  This story has a fire, backstabbing, a con-artist, an obsessed fan, and paperweights.  You will need to watch the conclusion three times to get it straight.  Since the killer is a bit obvious, you won’t need to watch the entire movie over again.  If you missed this movie, don’t worry. Travis and Amy have not proclaimed their love for each other.  But fingers crossed, it will happen.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars

Are you trying to get rid of me – Amy

Whoa, people really care about books – Travis

Oh, it is a warning – Betsy

Why would I do that – Grant

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Undercover Cheerleader – Review

Undercover Cheerleader – Lifetime – 2 hours and 3 minutes

Undercover Cheerleader

Autumn Bailey and her mother move to a new town.  It’s a huge contrast to their life in New York.  The newly widowed Mrs. Bailey has decided to make the best of this move for her daughter and her career.  Autumn’s first day of school has the typical cliques of jocks, burnouts, nerds, and cheerleaders.  However, she is given a campus liaison, Kira.  Kira will be a friend and help her get around the school.  Kira is on the school newspaper and they need a new columnist.  She is excited to hear that Autumn has a background in reporting and dance.  For years, Kira has wanted to do an expose on the cheerleading team and their coach Dot.  Dot has been rumored of making her team go on restrictive diets, suffer through weigh-ins, be victims of abusive punishments, and cut off their social lives.  Kira wants Autumn to infiltrate the team and report on all the underlying problems.  Autumn agrees.  Afterward Autumn meets Jenny (the cheerleader captain) and her best friend Bella.  They warn her to stay away for Kira because she is a loser.  Autumn tries out for the team and meets Megan.  Megan has been dreaming of trying out for years.  Both make the team, however, Megan elation is brought to disappointment when she is told she has to lose 5 pounds in a week to keep her spot.  The new team members are given a special diet, acceptable hair, clothes, and weight for the team.  Autumn has her first story.  When the story hits the press, alumni cheerleaders Samantha and Heidi are happy.  They are glad someone is trying to bring down their abusive coach.  Jordan, a football player, is happy for the changes and the chance to meet Autumn.  Autumn, Kira, and Kira’s friend and reporter, Max, are happy with the article.  They tell Autumn to stay on the team and write more.  But when members of the team are attacked, Autumn blames herself and starts investigating.  Is the attacker Dot, Jenny, Hiedi, or someone else?

Lifetime has taken a page out of HMM handbook.  They have created likable and unlikable characters with plenty of viable suspects.  As Autumn finds clues, she finds some clues with multiple suspects attached to them and some clues that are misleading.  Viewers are allowed to uncover the mystery with Autumn and feel the sense of danger as her friends are hurt and killed.  You fell the sense of urgency as she makes connections to the killer.  This movie could be the start of Lifetime’s first movie series to draw in loyal viewership.  Since the lead is a high school student, the series could follower her to college.  This movie should be expanded.

I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars

Same cliques, different school – Autumn

I’m here of my own volition, I swear – Kira

I like my competition where I can see them – Jenny

It’s the 21st century, aren’t big butts in – Max

Jenny, try harder to be a Disney villain.  You’re not cartoonish enough – Jordan

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Forever in My Heart – Review

Forever in My Heart – Hallmark – 2 hours and 0 minutes

Forever in My Heart

Jenna works at O’Hanlons Inn located in Ireland with her boyfriend Charlie, best friend Katherine, and Charlie’s bandmate Liam.  She applied for a position at Pugsley Hotels in the United States and prepares to head back to the U.S.  As she says goodbye to her friends, Dave, from Pugsley Hotels, calls and tells her she got the job.  Jenna intends on remaining close to everyone back in Ireland and wants to return.  Five years later, Jenna is Pugsley management but misses working on the floor with customers.  Her boyfriend, Dave, spends more time in the air than on the ground.  She is ready to get married but he dodges the conversation.  Dave sits Jenna down and gives her a box.  Inside is items pertaining to Ireland.  Pugsley Hotels wants to open a new hotel in Ireland.  They want Jenna to present the proposal.  Then he gives her a ring box and she says yes.  She is excited to go back to Ireland and plans to make a stop at the O’Hanlons Inn.  However, Katherine and Liam have plans in motion.  They knew Charlie was planning on proposing to Jenna before she left.  When he learned about the job offer, he didn’t want to kill her dreams.  So, he decided against it.  Since Jenna will be back in town, they have tricked Charlie into coming back too.  They hope Jenna and Charlie can rekindle the flame.  What can go wrong? Maybe her fiance showing up for a surprise visit.

This is a predictable Hallmark plot that is acted beautifully with cinematography you can only see on a computer screensaver.  It’s hard to comprehend these landscapes are real.  Using actors with real accents adds to the authenticity of the movie.  It’s these aspects that change this movie from ho-hum to wonderful.  The music, food, and dancing will have you looking at a travel guide.  Hopefully, Hallmark can make O’Hanlon’s Inn a real destination site.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars

To a very late Saint Patrick’s Day party – Katherine

Thank me by coming back soon, ok? – Patrick

I made the perfect match, haven’t I – Jenna

I always knew you would be successful – Charlie

I overstepped and I’m sorry – Dave

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