Long Lost Daughter (2018 Lifetime)
Synopsis (via Lifetime)
When Michelle moves with her boyfriend to a small suburb, she believes it to be her dream come true of settling down and starting a new life together. Upon meeting the locals, she befriends an older woman named Cathy, a children’s book author, and the two immediately bond. What Michelle thought was just a neighborly connection quickly turns obsessive as Cathy is convinced that Michelle is her daughter, who went missing 20 years ago and returned home. Now that Cathy has her “daughter” back, she’ll do everything she can to never let her go again.
A creepy little girl voice tells a story as we get stock footage of a sleepy suburban town. The creepy little girl, Michelle, tape records a voice reading for her mother’s potential book series. Her mother is an aspiring writer named Kathy, and she is dressed in an extremely 90’s dress. Kathy sends her daughter off to school with a big bruise (the kid claims it was from a bully.) on her arm and a sandwich without crust, never to see her again. Michelle goes missing.
Twenty years later, in New York City, grown-up Michelle makes out with her cutie boyfriend, Johnathan. They are moving away from the city to a small town, and her boyfriend is a WRITER. Michelle moves two weeks sooner to start her job at the school.
At school, Michelle is thrown into her new role, messy abandoned office, and all. One of her fellow teachers throws a shoe at her to get her attention. The teacher’s name is Ashley, and they become fast friends. You know who conveniently makes appearances at the school, Kathy!!! Michelle and Kathy introduce themselves and don’t realize that they are long lost mother/daughter. (Kathy is triggered when she hears Michelle’s name.)
Kathy and Michelle go out for coffee, which quickly turns to chardonnay. (My kind of meeting!) The women get to know one another, and we learn that Michelle doesn’t remember much of her past. She grew up in foster care and is ready to start her life with Johnathan. Kathy is so taken with Michelle that she invites her over for a casserole.
The next day, Michelle gets another invitation from Ashley to unpack and eat pizza/drink beer. Michelle calls Kathy and candles last min. Kathy hears the message on her machine and gets so angry she breaks dishes. While unpacking, Ashley fills Michelle in on Kathy’s daughter going missing and warns that Kathy and her husband, Derrick, are “a bit off.” In a heartbreaking moment, Kathy brings over the leftover casserole and sees that Michelle lied to her and has Ashley over.
Since we are in a small town and this is Lifetime, not Hallmark, Michelle’s cellphone has a bad signal and isn’t getting Johnathan’s phonecalls. Johnathan surprises her by moving in early, just in time for a redo of Kath and Derick’s dinner. They make lasagna and can’t understand Johnathan is gluten intolerant. (I would say, they even make fun of him for it,) Then they shame him for not cooking for his wife and make fun of his book idea. Kathy and Derrick are rude AF, so Johnathan is rude right back. I’d say the dinner is not a success. Johnathan drinks too much and tells Michelle that he doesn’t want to see the couple again.
The next morning Johnathan is still upset and heads back to the city. Michelle goes out with Ashley to a bar to blow off steam. Meanwhile, Kathy sits in her long lost daughter’s undisturbed room and listens to the tape recorder.
After a few days, Michelle still hasn’t heard from Johnathan. Kathy brings over Johnathan’s phone; he left it at the dinner party. Michelle is confused about how Kathy knew where she lived. Johnathan calls his phone from his work phone and apologizes; then, the couple continues arguing. Kathy waits on the front porch like a weirdo and invites Michelle to come by to her house for the weekend. Michelle declines because she is still unpacking and getting settled.
Kathy is jealous of Ashley and threatens to pull the school’s book program funding if she doesn’t stop hanging out with Michelle. It is very dramatic for such low stakes. Like, who cares!
Michelle has wine with Kathy to go over ideas for her last Children’s book. The book will tell the story of a bunny coming home. Kathy then takes Michelle upstairs and shows her daughter’s room. Then she informs Michelle that she hired a PI to look into her past. The coincidences all add up to Kathy, thinking Michelle is her daughter. (I thought that too!) Michelle assures Kathy that she is not her daughter and has no memory or anything Kathy is showing her.
Freaked out, Michelle runs out of the house and calls Ashley. Before she can get someone on the phone, Derrick comes out and chases Michelle through the snowy woods. I think he may throw snowballs at her, before eventually catching her.
Derrick and Kathy tie Michelle to a bed and then board her up in the child’s bedroom. Michelle screams for help as Johnathan looks around town for her. He stops by the house, but Kathy denies seeing Michelle.
Johnathan finds Ashley and tries to get her to help him, then he goes to the police, but they won’t help him either. Then he gets an idea. He creates a domestic disturbance at Kathy and Derrick’s house to get the police to show up. Kathy placates him by telling him that Michelle is inside; she let him in, and Derrick beats him with the butt of a rifle.
Meanwhile, Michelle listens to the tapes, and they are very disturbing. The child Michelle was abused by her father. Michelle pretends to remember everything and cries. She tells Kathy that she was running away from her abusive father and plays her the tape. Kathy is dumbfounded.
Kathy heads downstairs and grabs a butcher knife. Derrick attacks Michelle again, and she screams for him to stop hitting her like he did when she was a child. He knows she is lying because he killed his daughter. Kathy stabs Derrick before he can kill again. The police get called, and Johnathan and Michelle are wheeled out on Gurnee’s.
As they set up their new home, the young couple gets a package from Kathy. It is a box filled with a bunny for their new baby. Johnathan wants Michelle to tell the truth. Instead, she creepily looks out the window. This whole movie is up for your interpretation, but I’m pretty sure she was lying and isn’t the long lost daughter.
Minority Report: None. NONE!
Also known as The Mystery of Michelle
🔪🔪🔪🔪 (4 Knives)
🍷🍷🍷 (3 glasses of wine required.)
*Photo Credit: © 2018 Lifetime