Plot: Emily (Alex Frnka) is a young woman with big dreams, as she wants to lead her band to rock stardom. But while she has a beautiful voice and all the charisma needed to front a rock band, she fails to put the same kind of drive into her schoolwork as she does with her music. Her mother Kelly (Vanessa Marcil) worries that although she is bright, Emily will have a hard time getting into a good college, especially with a D in her chemistry class. As the two discuss hiring a tutor while at a coffee shop, a troubled man named Devon (Charles Hittinger) overhears the conversation and since he is an ace chemist, he sees an opportunity. First he sabotages the original tutor, then presents himself as a potential replacement. But while Emily’s grades soon improve, Devon’s unstable tendencies begin to push him to pursue the teen girl, as she reminds him of an ex who rejected him. As strange things begin to happen around them, can Emily or her mother figure out Devon’s plan before it is too late?
Entertainment Value: Lifetime has given us bad husbands, bad wives, bad doctors, bad lawyers, bad personal trainers, and now, we finally have Bad Tutor. A solid stalker tale that hits on most of the usual Lifetime elements, this one feels a little reeled in, but has some fun bursts of melodrama. The narrative is one we’ve seen one before, with a scorned loner driven to find a girl just the one that rejected him, but at least some fresh turns are utilized here. The movie is able to take the music thread and make it work quite well, for example. I do wish more time was devoted to the mother/daughter angle, if just to help explain some erratic choices toward the finale and perhaps dropping the boyfriend thread could have allowed that. The cast here is good for this kind of material, with Vanessa Marcil as the nosy, overprotective turned progressive mom, while Alex Frnka nails the rebellious, precocious teen role. Charles Hittinger often steals the show however, with a restrained, but creepily effective performance as our stalker. He isn’t as wild or melodramatic as some of Lifetime’s obsessed creeps, but he is fun to watch and his overly calm presence adds to his eeriness. In the end, Bad Tutor doesn’t go for broke with melodrama and thrills, but it tells a competent narrative and never fails to offer Lifetime style fun.
No nakedness. This is Lifetime, after all. The relationship between Emily and Devon takes an odd turn toward the end, but up to that point, it is just seen from the outside as a mentor situation. No blood. There’s a good sense of dread once Devon begins to groom Emily, but the movie doesn’t dip into violence outside of some instances that are just told to us second hand. So we hear about these events, but never see them, though the first scene does have an interesting flourish. So this is more of a quiet menace type movie, which I think works well, given how Hittinger approaches the role as a reserved, but clearly unstable individual. The dialogue is fine, with some creeper moments and bursts of drama, but the tone is less over the top than most similar pictures from Lifetime. This leads to a more serious mood, but less melodrama and outlandish moments. So a little wild dialogue pops up, but not much. The opening scene is hilarious and Hittinger’s general creepiness adds to the movie’s craziness score, but overall, this one is faily reined in for a Lifetime stalker saga.
Overall Insanity: 2/10