Plot: Alison (Cindy Busby) is trying to get back on her feet, as she has a law degree, but is unable to find work in the field and struggles to make ends meet. As her home is close to falling into foreclosure, she takes a job at a retail department store and looks into renting her basement, which would bolster her income. Not long term solutions, but enough to help Alison buy some time until things turn around. But her new job doesn’t get off to a good start, as her boss is a creep and makes her uncomfortable, much as he does for the other female employees. Then another unexpected turn happens when the family who agreed to rent the basement turns out to be just James (Marcus Rosner), who tells her he is now separated, but still wants to be her tenant. The two have some boundary issues at first, but as Alison deals with a series of problems in her personal life, James proves to be someone she can lean on. But is he just a nice guy who happened to rent the room or is there a darker side to her new tenant?
Entertainment Value: The good girls of Lifetime are often put through the wringer, but man, Cindy Busby’s Alison is thrown into one toxic, creepy situation after another in The Killer Downstairs. The narrative is in line with the usual Lifetime obsessive psycho thriller, but Alison faces danger from not just one aggressive stalker, but the potential for one around every corner. I suppose this is likely rooted in real life, especially given how believable some of the scenarios are, such as the slimy experiences Alison endures with her new boss. I appreciated the various threads, as those side plots added tension and also made for a more colorful narrative, instead of one psycho preying upon a woman and her loved ones. This approach allowed for more twists and turns than usual, which is a welcome element in these sometimes formulaic, though still usually fun Lifetime thrillers. The Killer Downstairs also invests more time than usual into its characters, which slows the pace a bit, but I think it was a wise choice. Alison is given a good amount of depth and the movie doesn’t rush through her story, so while a little more deliberate than most thrillers of this kind, it works. I found this to be a capable, well made thriller that Lifetime fans should appreciate.
I watch a lot of Lifetime thrillers, but I was especially interested in The Killer Downstairs because of Cindy Busby, who has the lead role here. I’ve been beyond impressed with her work and as she is able to elevate whatever material she’s given, which is what she does in this movie. I think the narrative is solid in this one, but Busby brings it to life so well and I think her presence makes it better than it might have been otherwise. Busby was a god tier villain in another Lifetime thriller The Wrong Stepmother, but here is the good girl, though not the typical Lifetime protagonist. A combination of her performance and the development invested in her character ensure that Alison is a memorable lead that isn’t naive or helpless, which again helps the movie stand out. I think Busby is excellent here and the movie is much better for her involvement. The cast also includes Ben Wilkinson, Donna Benedicto, Marcus Rosner, and Emy Aneke.