Plot: Alex Cooper (Addison Holley) is a regular at church and related functions, as her parents are devout Mormons. Not just devout, more obsessed, driven by what awaits in the next life and they plan their actions to reflect that. The two are terrified of the idea of an eternity without their children, so Alex is often under pressure to conform and do as she’s told. But inside, Alex knows she can’t conform in the ways her parents want, as she likes girls and that is an unforgivable sin in their world. She gets into trouble now and then, but when she is able to keep her sexuality a secret, at least until she meets Frankie (Nicolette Pearse) and falls for her. After she’s late getting home after a night with Frankie, Alex is confronted by her parents, who worry she is having sex and might be pregnant. When Alex tells them the truth, they panic and arrange for her to be taken out of town, to a conversion therapy center, where her parents hope she can be turned back to the lifestyle they want for her.
Entertainment Value: This was part of Lifetime’s “torn from the headlines” series and Trapped is a dark, often hard to watch experience, amplified by the fact that these events were all too real for Alex Cooper. The narrative is a harrowing one, focusing on how Alex was taken against her will to the conversion camp and how the camp’s leaders ran the operation. As is inevitable in these real life stories, some details are glossed over and in this case, we are left with a text wrap up on how things resolved, rather than a look at the legal aftermath. But I think the approach taken here works, as Alex’s ordeal inside the conversion camp tells an unforgettable story, while her home life is also given some examination. This might be a Lifetime movie, but little is held back and we’re shown just how sadistic and cruel the conversion process was, so knowing the real Alex suffered like this is beyond tragic. The religious aspect isn’t ignored, but Trapped isn’t about casting off religion, more how religious views can be twisted or obsessed over, leading to horrific results. Trapped is an intense movie, but is treated as a straight forward drama, which means the melodrama is toned down. So while again this is a Lifetime movie, it feels different from the network’s usual output. I think this is a story that needed to be told and Lifetime’s approach worked well, so for those interest, Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story is recommended.
The cast is quite good in Trapped and this kind of material could have gone over the top numerous times, especially since Lifetime tends to be known for wild melodrama and emotional outbursts. But the performers keep things grounded for the most part, save a few well chosen emotional peaks, so the material is given the serious approach it needs to resonate. Addison Holley has the lead and this had to be a tough role to play, from both an internal standpoint and the rough road Alex has to endure in general. But Holley is more than up to the task and shines here, bringing across the emotional suffering and internal anguish, not to mention Alex’s indomitable spirit. Even in the darkest of moments, the light inside Alex is bright and that is a testament to Holley’s capable performance, I think. I loved seeing Wilson Cruz pop up in a small, but crucial role here, a most welcome inclusion to the ensemble. The cast also includes Nicolette Pearse, Ian Lake, Sarah Booth, and Kate Drummond.