Welcome to Lifemark Halltime’s very first guest post, written by me, Rubi. Some things to know about me: I am Jen’s best friend. I will steal one of your fries, no matter what I order. And I have not watched a Lifetime movie quite possibly since the 2005 Alexa Vega swan song Odd Girl Out (sorry, Spy Kids fans, but this is where Vega’s talents truly shone)(sorry, Alexa Vega, if you have in fact done something since).
Considering the fact that our friendship is based on one universal truth—that OJ Fucking Did It—I think Jen picked the film The Psycho She Met Online for me because we’re both drawn to the same very specific brands of drama. In this case, I’m guessing it’s either my casual preoccupation with murder, my longstanding desire to be Catfished by an online stranger (can you imagine someone paying you that much attention for a sustained period of time? Fun!), or because it features Matthew Lawrence, one of the better Lawrence brothers, and as we all know, if there’s one narrative trope I love falling into, it’s pretending that I have to choose between brothers, like Natalie Portman in Brothers or Joe Biden’s daughter-in-law IRL. Time to find out!
We open with blood (oh, good). There’s been a car accident and I’M SORRY. The name YANI GELLMAN has just flashed across the screen and if you don’t recognize that as Paolo Valisari from The Lizzie McGuire Movie, then I can’t help you in life.
So there’s been a car accident. One accident victim is promptly recognized by an EMT as her husband, Andrew. She didn’t think to mention this until she was specifically asked if she knew him, which seems unrealistic and also is not ideal for exposition purposes. But Andrew aka Matthew Lawrence is okay, thank goodness, save for some spleen drama that conveniently will take him out of the job market for an indeterminate amount of time.
Sidebar: imagine being Matthew Lawrence playing a character with the same name as your well-known brother Andrew Lawrence. Or being either of them and playing a character named Joey—easily the best Lawrence brother in the game. Do you guys think the Lawrence brothers resent each other for things like this? Something to think about.
Karen (no one has told me her name is Karen—what is up with the exposition in this movie?) then sits with a differently hair-colored friend, who suggests she assuage her new money concerns by renting a room in her sizable, unaffordable home out to an internet stranger. After the requisite demurring that serves to foreshadow the titular Psycho (“I don’t want random strangers as roommates”—duh, b) and a primer on the sharing economy for non-millennials, we cut to Portland, Oregon.
Here a woman we should recognize as villainous because a) her hair is brown, where Karen’s is blonde and b) she is wearing a full-on smoky eye in the middle of the day, narrows her eyes at an article about Karen and Andrew. She’s ambushed by her bum of a live-in boyfriend, a dead ringer for Andrew (if I didn’t know better, I’d guess it was another Lawrence brother. But I know better). He accuses her of making out with a “long-haired guy at the club” (Andrew!! Nice exposition, finally), calls her a “stupid slut,” and mentions her being a stripper. This is very rude, but she is wearing a leather jacket and leather pants, in addition to the aforementioned eyeshadow, so I get the archetype Lifetime is trying to shoehorn this woman into. I don’t like when anyone puts women into boxes—least of all party magicians—so I’m hoping for some twists from this character. Perhaps she will save the day in the end.
Back at the hospital, Karen presents the idea of renting rooms to strangers to Andrew. “If we get even one weirdo…” he warns, and honestly the rest of what he says doesn’t even matter because that is exactly what is going to happen and what we came for so let’s just get to that.
Eyeshadow Girl finds Karen’s listing and applies under the name Miranda. Karen, wrapped up in a boring cardigan and devoid of daytime eyeshadow, shares this with Andrew’s brother, Paolo Valisari a nameless man, who is over helping her screen applicants.
Meanwhile, Eyeshadow Girl/Miranda explains her devious plan to a friend. Then they speak some unnecessary Spanish for like 12 seconds—unnecessary because this does not give us additional character insight, and because they are both painfully bad at it. At this point I am deeeep into an eye-roll because I hate when writers do this without consulting one of the millions of Spanish-speakers who could teach them the basic tenets of the language. Hey America, if this is you throwing us a bone… keep the bone.
Miranda shows up at Karen’s home she can’t afford and Karen shows her to her all-white room—perfect for spilling blood in, I must note. As soon as Karen is gone, Miranda slips some files under the mattress, easily the number one most devious hiding place, and also an excellent indication that you’re confident in your ability to not wet the bed.
In the kitchen, Karen tries to ask Miranda about her fake industry (she pretends to work for a hotel chain, which is exactly the lie you tell someone when making their home your primary accommodations), but Miranda is quick to pivot the conversation to Andrew. I want to believe she is an investigative reporter, because she soon buys cameras and starts placing them around Karen’s home. Maybe these cameras will help her save the day.
She also steals some pictures of Karen and Andrew out of a photo album though, so maybe she’s just being an actual villain.
Karen, working as an EMT, comforts a young woman whose mother has died by suicide. Karen’s mother did too. This is sad and makes us care about Karen a little more, but I didn’t strictly need to see a body with blood pooling around its head right now.
Back at home, Karen’s car is mysteriously (read: not mysteriously) having trouble so Miranda offers her a ride to work, during which Karen mentions she forgot Andrew’s paperwork at home. Miranda volunteers to take it to the hospital and I sit up like, Oh shit, confrontation.
But boy, is my face red. Turns out Andrew doesn’t recognize Miranda! He is not the long-haired dude from the club after all! So that’s another long-haired guy. Add this to the long-haired guy she left in Portland and looks like girlfriend really has a type.
Now she’s fishing around, asking Andrew about his brother, Tyler. As you can imagine, I am getting hyped right now because this might in fact turn into a storyline about choosing between brothers, which is very much on-brand for me right now. Also, Miranda reveals that her mom is dead, like Karen’s. Now we’re all talking the same dead-mom language.
A woman in a leopard-print top and leather skirt approaches Miranda—or should I say, “Miranda.” Because Leather Skirt has just called our villain babygirl Cheyanne. WhoOoOoOa! Also, this woman clarifies that she is also a stripper—as if the costume designer hadn’t already done her dirty on this front. I don’t understand why costume designers feel the need to drop sartorial hints that someone is a stripper. It’s a normal job, held by people of all stripes. Pretty sure the only aesthetic all strippers share doesn’t actually even involve clothes. But I digress.
At breakfast, Karen compliments not-Miranda’s unremarkable red top, which lets us know that they trust each other as girlfriends now. Karen mentions another potential renter and Miranda seems flustered. For my own sake I hope it is either Andrew’s brother or an unrelated character played by one of the other Lawrence brothers (Joey or bust).
Paolo Valisari Andrew’s brother Tyler is helping with Karen’s non-existent car problems and Miranda starts flirting with him by naming random car parts. I would say that’s a cheap move, but I don’t know if I would fare much better because I already know that I personally would just whisper Sing to me, Paolo in his ear until we had children.
Now it’s dinnertime with Karen, Miranda, and Brunette Friend Aubrey. Miranda becomes absolutely baffled at the concept of sororities (same, Mimi), which gives her a chance to practice her eye-narrowing. Brunette Friend defends the Greek system with the dead eyes of a college brochure model. Miranda gets really intense about how this isn’t the same bond as having a real sister and then grabs a knife under the table, because now is a good time to go to jail for homicide. My new theory is that she is secretly Karen’s long-lost sister. Maybe Andrew will have to choose between sisters? That’s not as hot but ok.
Miranda excuses herself to use the restroom, but instead of rage-pooping as expected, she has a li’l baby breakdown in the mirror before casually watching Karen sleep back at home.
Oh snap, new renter shows up. He is old AF and from Canada. Miranda narrows her eyes with finesse. I love the idea of being suspicious of old people. Seriously, trust no bitch.
Shortly thereafter, new/old renter catches Miranda using Karen’s computer and Miranda decides to join him on a nature walk. I’m just thinking to myself that it’s cute when old people have hobbies when MIRANDA. STRAIGHT. MURDERS HIM WITH A ROCK.
Back at home, Karen is worried about the old dude’s disappearance, so his murderess comforts her with a glass of wine. They talk about how Miranda was very much ditched by her parents, who were both married to other people. So my thought is that Karen has got to be Miranda’s real sister, and Miranda is for sure killing Karen’s sorority sister Aubrey about it at some point.
Andrew comes home from the hospital and Paolo/Tyler (Paoler? Tylo?) makes dinner for everyone. Miranda is all over this and refers to him as her “future husband” at the strip club the next day. This is turning into a real brother/brother/sister/sister scenario that’s got me, to say the least, pretty sexually confused.
Miranda throws a fit because Karen ditches her to comfort her dumped friend Aubrey. Aubrey then takes her dead eyes into Miranda’s strip club and photographs Miranda at work. Miranda calls her a “stupid bitch” about it. Aubrey, you in danger, girl.
Karen confronts Miranda and says she should look for somewhere else to stay, except WAIT! Miranda drops the bomb. Karen’s mom gave Miranda up as a baby and they’re sisters!
Later, Karen and Andrew discuss this development in bed as Miranda watches over the cameras she’s installed. Cat may be out of the bag, but babygirl is still crazy.
Karen and Miranda discuss Karen’s mom’s suicide in Mexico, and granted I know nothing about this mom character, but I suspect foul play (Miraaaandaaaa). Karen asks Miranda to move out so they can get to know each other more slowly. Initially, this makes Miranda spiral in that cute way she’s been doing in front of the mirror. Then she goes out and gets an apartment, seemingly on the up and up. I have to say, I love a good pivot from hot mess to girl about town, especially when it happens in .03 seconds.
But then she gets pulled over for a stolen rental car just as someone finds the old dude’s body, which was not even a little bit buried in the foliage. At the police station, Karen learns Miranda was using her identity to rent an apartment, which raises a good question: who is Miranda really? Karen confronts her and Miranda does some casual sobbing and hair-pulling before calling Andrew’s brother for some kind of validation—let the girl who hasn’t pulled that same move cast the first stone.
While Karen and Andrew eat in silence, a homicide detective shows up to discuss the old guy’s murder. Meanwhile, Tyler and Miranda’s date is going well and she goes back to his place. While Tyler goes to get some wine, he receives a call from Andrew and Miranda throws his phone into a completely dry sink, where it immediately short-circuits. The two then discuss nightmarish past relationships, a known aphrodisiac, before falling into bed.
Meanwhile, Karen finds out Miranda must have talked to their mother to learn her father’s identity which means, of course, that Miranda killed their mom, as expected.
I have to note: I’m quite relieved Miranda does not wear one of Tyler’s button-down dress shirts in the morning, which is something absolutely no one enjoys. It’s not comfortable for the girl—certainly not more so than a t-shirt, at least—and it’s a waste of a steam for the dude. This is my political platform.
She does, however, reveal that Karen is her half-sister, which Tyler wishes she’d told him before last night. Perhaps this would have informed his dirty talk? Tyler expresses zero emotion when Andrew calls to warn him about Miranda. He also does not check his surroundings and gets a wine bottle to the head for it.
Tyler, it turns out, is fine, but no one cares because shortly after this Miranda goes back to Karen’s house and STABS ANDREW. She shushes him about it afterward too, which is quite the dick move if you ask me. It’s literally adding insult to injury.
Did I mention she does all this in a crop top and high-heeled boots?
Karen gets home and then IT. IS. ON. The knife play gets a little steamier at this point—even steamier than 2007-era Lindsay Lohan and Vanessa Minnillo. You know how sisters get when fighting one another to the death.
The two roll around while Miranda confesses she did in fact kill their mother. A police officer bursts in and shoots Miranda twice in the chest. Bye, girl.
The movie ends with Andrew, Aubrey, Tyler, and Karen having dinner together some time later. Karen gets an email from Vacay-N-Stay, the AirBnb stand-in where she met The Psycho She Met Online, online. They want her back—would she like to reactivate? She clicks no because, before she got murdered, mama didn’t raise no fool.
Overall, I’m rating The Psycho She Met Online a 4 out of 10. It gets a lot of points because the central storyline is about two sisters’ tumultuous relationship, not unlike in Frozen, and we all know how well that did for Disney. As someone whose persona has been markedly more boy-crazy than ever before recently—I would say my two catchphrases this past year have been, in exasperating tandem, “He’s dead to me” and “Yes, I texted him, if you want to SUE ME”—I appreciated that a romantic relationship, usually the handiest of distractions, was not the central conflict here.