Serial Killer’s Playbook or Serialized (2016 Lifetime)
Cast: Vanessa Ray, Adam Korson, Tara Spencer-Nairn, Tyler Hynes
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
After getting dropped by her publisher, celebrated novelist Hannah Ryan uses the negative forces in her life to inspire the creation of a pulp crime serial that posts new chapters to subscriber’s devices every week. The initial release is a modest success, but the work becomes a massive hit after a real-life murder takes place that bears a striking similarity to Hannah’s story. Is it really just a coincidence, or is it possible that a copycat serial killer is acting out the fictitious murders in real life? And is he going to strike again once Hannah releases her next chapter?
The movie starts with lots of snow, but it is NOT a Christmas movie. Hannah hosts a book signing and speaks about dying in the winter while artistic shots play on the screen. Hannah is a successful author who is struggling to write her next book and going through a divorce. An overzealous fan chats Hannah up and asks her out on a date.
Hannah plays darts with a writer friend and drinks wine after being let go by her publisher. Hannah drinks a lot of white wine. (The power of suggestion, I’m not drinking sauvignon blanc too!) Hannah has a creepy neighbor named Marlowe, who has a crush on her. He is intense.
What is also intense is Hannah’s imagination. She fantasizes about killing her publisher in an act of revenge. She names her protagonist, “Bloody Mary,” because she is drinking a bloody mary. (The power of suggestion, not I’m drinking a bloody mary too.)
Over mimosas, (The power of suggestion, not I’m drinking mimosas too.) Hannah and her writer friend, Darby, decide to publish it online. They make a twitter page and get 600 views. (I could only dream of 600 views.) Something is off with Darby; she is acting as the publisher and seems a little too involved.
Hot cop alert! A detective shows up and informs Hannah that her publisher is dead. He was stabbed in the heart, just like Hannah’s online story. The detective tells Hannah that she is a person of interest. She is brought in for questioning and flirting with hot detective. (His name is Austin.)
Hannah hooks up with her ex, Jason, and he is hella charming. (And disappointedly never shirtless.) Marlowe, the creepy neighbor, listens to them having sex. After the sex, Jason demands Hannah to pay her divorce settlement. What an asshole. Hannah pours herself some more booze and writes about killing Jason, but thinks better of it and writes about killing a lousy review writer.
Jason stops by to get his money and brings his new pregnant fiance along. Hannah writes about murdering Julia but changes her name to Dorothy. (Someone has been watching too much Golden Girls.)
Hannah does a press tour, which includes a podcast and zoom meeting. The story takes off, and the online book has 22K downloads. Darby and Hanna celebrate with more wine. (Okay, these girls can out drink me.) The liquid courage gives Hannah the confidence to ask out Austin. The date includes her drinking too much and passing out after inviting him over to the house. The next morning, Austin assures her that they didn’t hook up. When Marlowe (creepy neighbor) sees Austin leaving Hannah’s apartment, he thinks otherwise.
The romance is cut short; Tim Robinsons, the bad review writer, is murdered in real life. Hannah has a good alibi this time, the hot detective himself. They work with Darby to search the online views for potential suspects. Darby pushes Hannah to do more press and hasn’t paid out on Hannah’s portion of the profits. She is clearly the bad guy here, and the movie is making it look like Marlowe is. When publishers offers Hannah a half a million-dollar advance, Darby counters with a pitiful $10,000. Then they get into an argument about releasing the third chapter that features Julia’s murder (Renamed Dorothy, someone has been watching too many episodes of Golden Girls.)
Julia, Jason’s fiance or wife, has a miscarriage and goes to Hannah for advice. Hannah is kind and listens to the woman. She isn’t nice to the superfan when he chases her down. She pepper sprays him, and the police rule him out as a suspect.
Next, the police suspect Darby for the murders. Darby is bipolar and has mental health issues.
Austin sits outside of Julia’s house for protection. She is attacked and stabbed, and Austin is shot. Overwhelmed with it all, Hannah pours herself a glass of wine and is attacked too. (Brutally.) Oh, wait, nevermind. Hannah writes a chapter about Bloody Mary killing herself. She moves in with Jason for safety; he breaks up with (fake) pregnant Julia and then asks Hannah to remarry him.
Julia doesn’t take the breakup well. She has been releasing the chapters and killing everyone. Julia also faked her pregnancy and has been obsessed with Hannah. Julia stabs Jason and struggles over the knife with Hannah. Eventually, Julia is killed and inspires Hannah’s next bestseller.
Minority Report: Anthony, Reid, Detective, publisher,
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*Photo Credit: © 2016 Lifetime
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