Plot: Michael (Corin Nemec) hasn’t dated much since his wife’s death, but as time as passed, he has opened up and even met someone he has connected with. After some time getting to know her, he has decided to introduce her to his daughters, as he hopes the relationship will be a serious one. Maddie (Cindy Busby) is thrilled to meet his kids, as she has always wanted to be a mother and is hopeful she will find a place in Michael’s family. But right off the bat, Michael’s daughter Lily (Callie Taylor) notices some red flags, even if they’re small ones. Her suspicions only grow over time as Maddie seems to behave in shady ways, not to mention her possessive streak that flares up even if Michael just talks to another woman. But is Maddie just on edge about her new relationship or is there a darker side to her persona?
Entertainment Value: An instant Lifetime classic, The Wrong Stepmother is insanely fun to watch and one of the channel’s all time most entertaining movies, an unhinged masterpiece of sorts. The narrative is typical Lifetime, but that is part of the fun of these thrillers, to see how the formula is presented and in this case, all the right notes are struck. I love how efficient this one is, as the psycho has no wind up time and just comes unglued right from the start. I suppose some might prefer a more subtle approach, but sometimes you just want a Lifetime thriller that goes for broke and that is certainly what happens here. The melodrama is through the roof, with an oblivious father, a bratty teen girl, and an absolutely off the deep end villain, all embroiled in a fast paced, hyper focused tale of obsession and high drama. The Wrong Stepmother is all killer, no filler too, with no downtime or slow stretches, just one scene after another of melodrama, craziness, and an unforgettable psycho at the center of it all. If I could have built my ideal Lifetime thriller, this is pretty much it, a brisk, over the top, and always entertaining ride that delivers all you could want and more. I had a total blast with this one and give The Wrong Stepmother the highest recommendation.
Now this is a Lifetime villain, an epic and first ballot Hall of Fame psycho effort from Cindy Busby. I’ve seen a good amount of Lifetime thrillers and hands down, Busby’s Maddie is one of the most manic, unhinged psychos to ever grace the channel, one of my all time favorite villains. I love how even the slightest perceived transgressions just light her up and she makes no effort to mask her menace, which makes the movie even more over the top and fun to watch. I was impressed by how effective just her facial cues are here, she has crazy eyes down to a science and just a look can convey a high level of unsettling craziness. She is fantastic throughout the entire movie, but she really shines during the finale and whatever small tethers kept her close to sanity, came totally loose in those final sequences. Corin Nemec is also quite good as our hapless father and most sane person around, while Vivica A. Fox has a smaller role, but brings the heat in one scene like you wouldn’t believe. Not be left out are Calli Taylor who spars with Busby in some fun scenes and director David DeCoteau, who shows sparks of his b movie cult skills in this wild picture.