Story: Carly (Katie Kelly) has seen the new neighbor and since he is just moving in, she knows he will need an interior designer to help out. So she rushes to let her mom Sarah (Tiffany Montgomery) knows, since she is the best interior designer in town, but she was beat to the punch, as it seems a rival has swooped on the new client. But Carly and Sarah decide to take matters into their hands, so they go to visit the new arrival, Kyle (James Hyde) to try to convince him to switch designers. He agrees as long as Carly helps and he seems quite charmed by her, to the point that he asks her out to dinner. Carly is dazzled by Kyle and his sophisticated ways, but when Sarah finds out, she is quite displeased. Is Kyle just smitten with a younger woman or is there a darker game afoot?
Entertainment Value: Also known as Prisoner of Love, Trapped by My Sugar Daddy is a decent thriller from Lifetime, one that takes on bigger issues than the usual “obsessed pyscho” narrative these movies present. This one focuses on grooming for the most part, as Kyle’s grooming of Carly is the main story beat, as well as human trafficking. While the latter isn’t given the time or weight needed to really delve into the issue, the movie does offer a good look at what grooming looks like, which can be tough to watch at times. The manipulation she endures is tragic and the movie keeps a serious tone, so the emotional beats are there and work well. I wouldn’t have minded more time spent on the dynamic between Sarah and Carly, but the movie kind of rushes their division, especially when the narrative needs to jump forward. The pace is fine and with the serious, mostly grounded tone, it ensures the tension is there and Carly’s situation feels quite tense. I think Trapped by My Sugar Daddy was a solid watch and worth a look for Lifetime devotees.
This one has a few prominent characters and feels like more of an ensemble piece than most of these thrillers, but I think Katie Kelly is the central lead. She turns in a good effort here, hitting the emotional beats well and coming off as an authentic, naive young person. So while the red flags fly constantly, you can understand more how Carly would miss them, as she is so young and falls into the promises and emotional traps set for her. The scenes between mother and daughter are intense in most cases and she does go a little over the top in some of those instances, but Kelly never goes totally camp, so it just feels like an emotional tantrum from a teenager. James Hyde is passable as the groomer, but doesn’t always seem believable in the role, so it seems a bit forced at times. The cast also includes Tiffany Montgomery, Ashton Leigh, and Ryan Francis.