I started a few different Lifetime movies that had the storyline of awful husbands, but ultimately landed on “Her Husband’s Betrayal” because the actress looks like an off-brand Megan Fox and the description told me someone gets murdered, so I was freaking ready.
Ok, so this movie is actually crazy. We open with a LOT happening. Cathy is already in a car following her husband, she sees him go into another house with another woman and starts crying. She goes inside the house, we hear gunshots, the cops arrive and she admits that she killed the woman inside. This is ALL within 10 minutes. Like, they’re literally still showing credits on the screen while all of this is happening, so YEAH, I was totally on board.
We then flashback two weeks (the classic storytelling style that makes everything 100% more dramatic, like the Odyssey, en medias res, you know? See, Lifetime is on it.) and we open to a huge, gorgeous barn-meets-model-home house in New Hampshire and Cathy is moving in with son, Billy. They allude to Riley, Cathy’s new husband and Billy’s stepdad, and he’s away at work, the typical scenario. Billy straight up is NOT about Riley – he thinks he’s lame and doesn’t want to call him dad (red flag, hello) and is not impressed by the poorly wrapped football Riley left for him (same).
Cathy is unpacking in the new house – which includes a large number of plates with birds painted on them – and then even spends time posting on a bird forum about how excited she is to share photos of the birds around the new house. This then transitions to her outside taking pictures of birds in the dead of winter. Her next door neighbor shows up to introduce herself – her name is Tora. Tora asks questions about Cathy taking pictures of the birds because I guess she’s a good neighbor, and Cathy explains that she likes winter birds because “they’re survivor birds.” WE GET IT CATH – YOU LOVE BIRDS. The best part is that from Cathy’s conversations with Tora, we also learn that Cathy met Riley ON THE DAMN BIRD WEBSITE. WE GET IT. BIRDS.
Riley is still gone at this point (there’s a wonderful scene of Cathy crying in a bathtub with wine and candles and calling him and only getting voicemail) so Cathy hangs out with Tora a lot. They talk about Cathy’s ex-husband who was an abusive drunk that cheated on her all the time, so if they’re not laying some solid groundwork for Cathy to be insecure, then I don’t know what to tell you. They go walking into town, and walk past a jewelry store when, wait a minute, is that Riley in the window?? Obviously, Cathy freaks out and thinks Riley is cheating on her, but turns out he came home early to buy a present for her! See, relax Cath!
Now that Riley is home, we have a series of suspicious instances: Riley, while in the bath (I know), gives a big jump when Cathy grabs his wallet off the bathroom floor, Cathy finds another necklace that looks exactly like the one Riley just gave her in Riley’s trunk, she finds lipstick on the collar of his shirt, she finds a business card that looks like his normal one but has the name Warren Rusk on it, and then the photo of her and Billy that she put in Riley’s wallet goes missing. Cathy is RIGHTFULLY suspicious. She also has NO JOB but manages to afford this entire huge house, so really, she only has to worry about her husband, not finances, apparently. She overhears a phone call where he tells someone that he’s working all weekend, when really he’s spending the weekend with her. Who is he talking to?
She’s finally properly suspicious and during the night tries to break into his desk and his cellphone – no luck. We now are up to where our movie begins – Cathy leaves Billy with Tora, and then follows Riley to New York State to another beautiful house, even though he told Cathy he was working. Cathy, already burned by one unfaithful husband, follows him inside where she sees a piece of mail with the name William Rusk on it – REMEMBER THAT NAME FROM BEFORE? She walks into the living room and sees a dead woman. When she turns around, she sees Riley, or also known as William Husk, and he chloroforms her so she passes out. She wakes up a bit later with a gun in her hand – the same one used to kill the woman next to her. Her phone rings and it’s Riley – he KIDNAPPED BILLY and the only way he will return Billy safely is if Cathy admits to the police that she was the one that murdered the woman, Mrs. Husk. SO SEE, things are more complicated than we originally thought! So to be clear – this guy was married to two different women and has two different identities. That’s all pretty wild, but what’s even more unbelievable to me is that he can afford TWO huge gorgeous houses. WHERE IS ALL THIS MONEY COMING FROM?
Now, the cops in this case suck. They don’t even test her hands to see if she shot the gun. I’ve seen a LOT of Criminal Minds and Law & Order, so I know that these are pretty important forensic tools! The cops are also dumb and no one realizes that Riley and William Husk are the same person because they have different cops talk to him. COME ON, this is Investigating 101! Cathy tries to explain the real situation to a young cop, Dan – about the double identity and how he kidnapped her son – but he’s new and innocent and doesn’t know what to do.
OKAY GUYS, we’ve reached the Lifetime Tippingpoint
™! We have officially entered into the “no one listens to me!” zone, a staple Lifetime theme. Cathy goes batshit crazy and takes the gun from Dan while being held at the police station, somehow taking him out of the police station without anyone noticing. She pleads with him to listen to her and to help her save her son. Before anything can happen, another cop comes out and she runs away. She manages to elude an ENTIRE search team, working her way to a pay phone at a truck stop to call Tora and tell her to keep Billy away from Riley. TOO LATE! Riley already has him, and Tora is so confused. There’s an irrelevant scene of Cathy holding a friendly truck driver hostage, who realizes she doesn’t know what she’s doing when it comes to guns, but helps her anyway to get her back to her house to look for her son because she reminds him of her own daughter. That’s right, he decides to help an armed fugitive!!!
Cathy arrives back at her home in New Hampshire and literally no one is there, not her son, not Tora, and not even the cops. Right, so a woman has broken out of police custody and they don’t tell the cops in her own home state to go stake out her house in case she returns. This is either a huge plot oversight or a thoughtful commentary on the bureaucracy and red tape that plagues police departments – I’ll let you decide. Cathy decides to leave an ominous voice mail to Riley/Warren Rusk telling her she’s badass and going to get her son back.
She then jumps into some SERIOUS investigative skills – she Googles the names “Riley Coulter” and “William Husk”. It turns out that these are the names of two kids out of about 20 kids that died in a school fire years ago. Looks like Riley, or whatever his name is, is taking the identity of these kids that died in the fire.
Cathy calls her own cellphone knowing its in police custody and policeman Dan answers and she tells him what she learned, which inspires him to do some secret investigation of his own. Through some more solid investigation (Google), Cathy learns that the original fire that killed the kids was an insurance scam gone wrong (huge bummer) and that her husband has not one other wife, but MULTIPLE other wives under all these different fire kid identities. HERE’S THE BEST PART – she learns that most of her husband’s other wives died in mysterious accidents. You know what happens when people die in accidents? Life Insurance payout! That’s right, my friends, ALL of this murder and deceit was done for insurance money! Cathy talks to a few different townsfolks and finally learns her husband’s real identity – Carl Higgins, Insurance salesman.
Now, while I don’t agree with it, I can at least logistically understand the motivation of money for this overall crime. The thing is that I HIGHLY DOUBT he was actually making any money in this scheme! Think about it – for each identity, he had to buy a house, a car, clothes, jewelry for his 398 wives, etc, etc. People can barely afford one version of this lifestyle, but you’re telling me he’s pulling it off with MULTIPLE women?? And remember, Cathy wasn’t working, so he was the SOLE BREADWINNER, and I bet that’s the same case for at least a few other of his wives. He’s basically getting the insurance money and then pumping it right back into his scams. If he’s not in the red, he’s at least JUST breaking even.
So Cathy is FED UP. She can’t find her son anywhere – even though she has checked out the houses of Carl’s other wives, so she decides to go and break into his own apartment hoping to find clues. She calls and tells policeman Dan and he says he’s on his way. Through some sophisticated powerwalking, Cathy manages to break into Carl’s apartment building (they don’t really get too heavy into the logistics here, but it’s Lifetime, so whatever!!)
Upon arriving, she finds everything she was looking for – all his identities and wallets, life insurance claims for all his dead wives, and even a life insurance claim for her just waiting for her to die! There’s also a solo one-way ticket to Buenos Aires… hmm. She takes all this proof, and as timing goes, just as she’s leaving, Carl is arriving and sees her in the hallway! Big chase scene, guns! She manages to escape just as the cops are pulling up, but rather than tell the cops everything she just found (like a normal person who now has proof that she wasn’t lying this whole time), she continues to run away. Gotta keep the action going, I guess.
From a weird and random motel room, Cathy calls Carl and sets up a meeting – she’ll give him back all his incriminating evidence (IDs, insurance documents, etc.) in exchange for her son back. He agrees. She then FINALLY CALLS THE COPS to tell them details (about time) but her phone dies before she can tell where she’s meeting him. The cops FINALLY do real investigative work and track the phone call so that they can properly find her location. Everyone is finally operating at the height of their intelligence! The cops, investigating Carl’s apartment, realize that there are female clothes in the closet…oh no, Cathy is walking into a trap!
Cathy, before walking into the random office building to meet Carl, sees a homeless woman and they making knowing eye contact. Cathy walks in, sees Carl with Billy and they’re about to make the exchange, when all of a sudden, Cathy feels a knife against her back. She turns to see that it’s TORA, THE NEIGHBOR!! Turns out, Tora was working with Carl all along! We don’t get any more details about how or why this is a thing – it’s just a fact.
Now both Cathy and Billy are being held by Tora and Carl in the stairwell of this office building and Cathy tries to make Tora suspicious – Carl only had one plane ticket to Buenos Aires, did Tora know that? Was he just going to take all the money and run? What the hell! Tora, freaked out by this, tells Carl to open the suitcase and prove that Cathy is lying. He goes to do so, but then realizing that he’s been caught, points his gun at Tora. Tora shoots him before he can shoot her, killing him! Tora then goes to shoot Cathy, getting her in the arm, but then awesome cop Dan, with perfect timing, shoots Tora before she can shoot Cathy again! With everyone laying on the floor either dead or injured, we see the open briefcase, which we believed was holding all the incriminating evidence against Carl, but instead, it’s just bottles and paper – items from the homeless woman that Cathy saw before! The homeless woman had held onto the evidence so that Carl could never get it, even if the switch had gone as planned. Everything is okay! Everyone is safe and Carl and Tora are dead! Dan did great detective work! That’s a wrap, Lifetime!
So another woman proves herself despite no one listening to her, but the financial incentives of this entire scheme seem questionable, so I have to give this movie a 6.