Death of a Cheerleader
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S4 E5 – Death of a Cheerleader (Lifetime Movie) – Lifetime Uncorked
Synopsis (via Lifetime)
In a remake of the cult-classic, “Death of a Cheerleader” is inspired by Randall Sullivan’s Rolling Stone article of the same name about the real-life murder of a popular, affluent and beautiful Northern California high school cheerleader at the hand of a classmate. Bridget Moretti (Ahubrey Peeples) is a shy outsider from a lower middle-class background who aspires to be beautiful, popular and perfect in everything. Believing that a friendship with rich and pretty Kelly Locke (Sarah Dugdale), leader of the school’s most prestigious clique, will get her all that she desires, Bridget tries to forge a friendship with her. When Kelly rejects Bridget’s attempts, it leaves her humiliated and feeling like a failure and ultimately fuels a jealous rage that will lead to murder. Death of a Cheerleader explores the events leading up to and after the shocking crime that took place in this upper-middle class community.
We all know the original story, a classic 90’s TV movie based on a true story from the 80’s. This is a remake of the 90’s movie but set in the 80’s. (I was really hoping for a modernization.)
Bridget Moretti is in a prison jumpsuit on trial for the murder of Kelly Locke. She is in shackles and being brought into the courthouse. Her mother is praying with a rosary. A goth girl smokes a cigarette by a memorial. All this while a voice over talks about the pressure to be popular/perfect.
Flash to 18 months earlier. September 1983. The voice over continues about the pressures of being perfect in high school in one of the riches schools in California… All of this setup could have been done with context clues like the original movie. Bridget is a plain jane and Kelly is a popular with hot pink hoop earrings, so is she really? The movie is really leaning into the 80’s but on the cheap. (Lots of scrunchies and sweaters draped over shoulders. Think Stranger Things with no budget or attention to detail.) Bridget vows that this year she is going to join the cheerleading squad, make new friends… or any friends, join the yearbook staff. Bridget practices her cheerleading routine in the mirror (to check her form). Her mom is not impressed with Bridget’s efforts and seems over it in general.
Kelly, on the other hand, gets a lot of pressure from her mom, she is a tiger mom who won’t even let Kelly wear her hair down. The mom tells Kelly to start practicing for Cheerleader tryouts because it won’t be easy making Varsity. It seems like the movie is focusing more on the mother/daughter dynamics that may have created this tragic situation with girls.
At bible study Bridget meets Nina Miller who used to be popular but broke up with her boyfriend and is now a loser. Nina’s mom encourages her to be her own person and takes her to get her hair done… Nina’s mom couldn’t have anticipated that her daughter would turn into the goth girl. (Which didn’t come into fashion in America until the 90’s…)
Things are turning around when the Bridget gets picked to be a Bobett. A Bobett, according to this movie is when you read shakespeare outside of boys windows and collect money from people getting off a bus. Seriously, this movie cuts out so much detail from the original and echanges it for… nothing interesting.
Kelly invites everyone over to her house and the girls are impress with Bridget’s cheerleading routine, everyone except Kelly, who is waxing her skis. Kelly and Bridget talk in the garage and Kelly makes fun of her ski’s. Which may be the extent of her “bullying” in the movie. We just get more voice overs about pressure and living up to expectations.
Cheerleader tryouts happen, and Bridgett is capable. Kelly does cartwheels, so I guess she is better. The story old as time, Kelly makes varsity and Bridgett does not, which is the catalyst to murder. We see Bridgett come unhinged when she also doesn’t get on the yearbook staff. The principle tells her that crying is not going to get her into college and then tells her it is competitive school getting her ready for a competitive world. It’s pretty harsh, even for a movie set in the 80’s.
Bridget arranges the fake meet up with Kelly to win her over. She lies to her mom to get the car. (Nina also lies to her mom to go out with a boy.) Kelly gets in the car with Bridgett and figures out that Bridget is lying about going to a “college party”. On the way they stop in a parking lot to smoke some weed. (To calm Kelly’s nerves from all the pressure!!!) Bridget begs to be her friend, but Kelly tells her that she is weird and is going to tell everyone about this. Kelly makes her escape and runs for it but Bridgett follows her in the car. Kelly gets freaked out and runs to a house for help. She gets a ride home from a stranger and Bridgett follows them while hyperventilating and worrying about her ruined reputation. On her front door stoop, Kelly is stabbed to death by Bridget. Kelly get a VERY extended death scene (Think Drew Barrymore in Scream) that I’m sure Tori Spelling could never pull off.
Next, we see Bridget and her attempt to cover up the murder. She sneaks into her house past her aloof mother and cleans the blood off her hands and the murder weapon. She then has a nice chat with her mom who says Bridgett is growing up so fast. The movie is really focusing on the struggle for the appearance of normalcy, when everything is falling apart.
While I have been hating on this movie, I loved the scene where Bridget gets a call from her classmate who break the news about Kelly. Props to Aubrey Peeples for some solid acting work here. The duality of her hearing news she already knows to be true while trying to deflect any suspicion on herself is a pretty tough thing to depict. Well done Aubrey Peeples!
Detectives are on the case and suspect Nina. (She did write, “I want to see your blood drip” in lipstick. ) Nina’s mom shuts down the questioning and promises to consult with a lawyer. Again, showing that Nina’s mom is the best.
The sheriff brings in Kelly’s friends (including Bridget.) He questions them while smoking a cigarette and the girls admit that Kelly was a bully and people hated her. Bridget on the other hand tells the sheriff that Kelly was the most popular girl in school and everyone liked her. She takes a lie detector test and passes.
With 20 minutes left in the movie KELLIE MARTIN finally makes her first appearance, she is playing FBI agent Veronica Murray. She talks a little bit about the profile of someone who might murder Kelly. Then a scene with Kellie Martin interviewing the character she played in 1994. (Super Meta.) Kellie Martin tells Bridget that she thinks she killed Kelly.
Bridget’s mom finds out from a letter and the mother and daughter hug each other and cry.
Back to March, 14th 1985. Bridget is found guilty of 2nd degree murder.
September 1985. Nina walks the halls of the school while her voice over plays.
“Perfect can’t change, Perfect can’t learn from it’s mistakes, but WE can.”
The real Bridget Moretti was released on parole after serving seven years.
Kellie Martin, who starred alongside Tori Spelling in the original, plays the FBI agent who cracks the case.
You should probably just watch the original and skip this remake.
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*Photo Credit: © 2019 Lifetime
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