Plot: Kathy (Heather Tom) is on a path her family is none too pleased with, as she has dropped out of school and seems directionless in the wake of that decision. At the same time, she helps out at the salvage yard her father Tom (Tony Danza) operates, but even then, she has shown questionable judgment. At work she has begun a relationship with one of her fellow employees, but he happens to be married and Tom feels helpless to turn his daughter’s life around. When she doesn’t come home one night, Tom and his wife Carol (Pamela Reed) aren’t surprised, but they spend hours trying to track her down, with no success. The police can’t file a report until she’s been missing for at least 24 hours, but soon Detective Jackson (Ving Rhames) is on the case and when a body is recovered, it could be Kathy. But who would want Kathy dead and did her poor choices led her down this tragic road?
Entertainment Value: This Lifetime thriller follows a familiar narrative, but has some good performances and a couple nice twists, so those who appreciate the genre should find a lot to like here. I do love wild, melodramatic Lifetime thrillers, but Deadly Whispers takes a more grounded, believable approach and that pays off, as this feels like it could easily have been based on real life events. That adds a tension that the over the top thrillers can’t provide, as this isn’t about cattiness or convoluted revenge, but more realistic people in a plausible situation. This is a slow burn thriller, one that shifts in key places and goes down some side threads, so while a touch predictable, it is effective in how well crafted it is. This is one we’ve seen before, in some form or another, but it is well told here and still packs a punch. I found the production values to be good, a step above most made for television movies from this time period, while the cast is also a cut above in that regard. Deadly Whispers is likely to entertain anyone who appreciates grounded, believable thrillers.
As I said before, the cast of this one is a notch or two above the usual television movies from the 90s, which helps the material work so well. I have a soft spot for Tony Danza and this is one of his better dramatic efforts, an intense and atypical role that lets him show more range than usual. Danza is often just asked to skate on his charm and light sense of humor, but in Deadly Whispers, he seems like a different person, it is a drastic shift from his usual work. I think a lot of people discount his acting skills, so it is nice to see him given a role he can dig into and he does that here, turning in a terrific effort that really hits the mark. Ving Rhames is solid as the lead detective, though not much is put into the character, so he just carries it with his presence. I like that Rhames that make even a small role like this one work so well, while Pamela Reed shows a lot of skill in her portrayal of the missing girl’s mother. She dips into melodrama at times, but is able to restrain her performance when needed and given the emotional material, that benefits the movie a lot. Deadly Whispers also stars Camryn Manheim, Heather Tom, and Richard Gross.