Plot: Danielle (Kelly Thiebaud) has struggled to conceive and after losing a baby, she is told that while there’s an outside chance she could have a normal pregnancy, it is a minor hope at best. She and her husband Josh (Brian Ames) are devastated, but some options remain on the table and the couple chooses to seek out a surrogate. This leads them to Carol (Maeve Quinlan), one of the best in the field and she finds what she believes to be the perfect surrogate, a young woman named Kailee (Jacyln Hales). She is an artist who could use the income from the process, but she has no desire to have her own child, as she is a free spirited and doesn’t want to be weighed down. Danielle and Josh agree to use Kailee to carry their child and soon enough, their newborn arrives and they couldn’t be happier. But when when Kailee doesn’t leave their lives as agreed and keeps turning up, the couple begins to be concerned. Is it just coincidence or is Kailee more attached to the baby than she anticipated?
Entertainment Value: This is a fun one, as The Sinister Surrogate has all the usual Lifetime elements from mom drama to the oblivious husband to a mysterious stalker, so the bases are covered here. The tone leans serious, but has some melodrama and twists that spice things up, while there’s also some head scratching moments that pump in some unintentional humor. As usual for Lifetime, the men are presented as more or less clueless, with the husband and lead detective as prime examples. Josh is such a dope and has little impact on the narrative, as he is just a beacon of bland presence, while the police detective seems to care less about the couple’s woes, though the story does back his decisions in the end. But I always like how the men in these movies could be lamps and the narrative wouldn’t miss a beat. The story is fun and plays out with some nice twists, with the usual Lifetime last minute jolts in place, so fans of the network’s thrillers should appreciate that. The light camp elements add a lot to the movie, but The Sinister Surrogate is serious in tone, so if you want a wild, over the top stalker thriller, this isn’t that. But I do think there’s enough bursts of unintended humor to compensate and fans of Lifetime should have fun with this one.
This movie has a solid ensemble cast with some memorable performances, with Kelly Thiebaud in the central role. I think she does good work here and the script helps with that, since she isn’t as naive or oblivious as some of the “good girls” in these Lifetime thrillers. She recognizes Kailee as a potential threat off the bat and tries to take steps to protect her family, only to have her husband and the authorities undermine her, though sometimes with good reason. So Thiebaud has a little more to work with than most Lifetime protagonists and she runs with it, turning in a grounded, fun to watch effort that anchors the movie well. Some of the Lifetime leads come off as almost unlikable because of their terrible decisions, but Thiebaud is easy to root for, thanks to the material and her performance. Brian Ames is hilarious as the hapless, useless husband, while Jaclyn Hales is fun as the surrogate, though she never gets much of a chance to flex since the role is smaller than usual. The cast also includes Maeve Quinlan, Jim Meskimen, and Kit Williamson as a hipster hacker.