Story: Anna (Crystal Allen) has just lost her husband and a daughter in a tragic house fire, which authorities believed was due to a gas leak. In truth however, Anna was responsible, not the gas leak, as she intended to kill her husband and her daughter was collateral damage. After getting away with murder, Anna moves to start a new life with her surviving daughter Jessie (Monica Rose Betz) and while a low profile would be prudent, instead Anna decides to be the coolest mom in her new town. Her free spirited approach to parenting isn’t a hit with her new neighbor Tanya (Rene Ashton), who has a more overprotective style. Soon Anna is throwing parties and trying to get Jessie in with the cool kids, but she seems to be more interested in Tanya’s daughter, Kylie (Nicolette Langley). Anna encourages Kylie to push back on her mom’s rules and let loose at the parties, to the point that Anna tries to hook up the teen with a much, much older man. This of course causes conflict with both Tanya and Jessie, but will Anna just resort to a lethal solution for her new problems?
Entertainment Value: The premise here sounds like Lifetime gold, a psycho mom that loves to party and is willing to murder those who oppose her. That sounds like the recipe for an instant classic, but I think Beware of Mom takes too restrained of an approach and tries to craft a “reputable” thriller, rather than embrace the craziness and gun the engine full blast. This results in a watchable, but forgettable thriller that shows sparks of promise, but is never willing to go the next step to let the melodrama shine. I know some dislike melodrama, but this is a story that cries out for over the top, melodramatic abandon, at least I think so. At the same time, such a stance is subjective and I understand different Lifetime fans want different things from these movies. As such, I have to recognize that this less manic approach is bound to resonate with some viewers, even if not with me. And from that perspective, Beware of Mom works as intended and even from my personal viewpoint, the movie is well made and watchable, I just wish it would have gone for the wilder side of the material. So in the end, I’d recommend it to those who prefer a more chill Lifetime thriller, though any Lifetime fans will likely find some entertainment here.
The more frequent readers of my Lifetime reviews know that I love a good psycho, to the point most of my favorite Lifetime movies are the ones with the most outlandish villains. I think the villain can make or break these thrillers and Beware of Mom has one that is in tune with the rest of the picture. Crystal Allen’s Anna has all the potential of a real hall of fame psycho, but as I mentioned above, the material never lets the character loose, so we have a tempered villain here. I think it is an off choice, given Anna’s persona and actions, but that is no fault of Allen, who was likely following direction. Her performance is fine and she hits the needed beats, though that is about all the script seems willing to let her do. I would have loved even a couple instances of manic chaos, but Allen is a capable lead for this kind of material. Rene Ashton is solid as the helicopter mom, one of the few times Lifetime doesn’t make the “good girl” seem like a clueless mess. The performances overall are passable, with other cast members including Nicolette Langley, Brandon Howell, and Monica Rose Betz.