Designed to Kill (2019 Lifetime)

Designed to Kill (2019 Lifetime)

Cast: Jamie LunerJoshua HoffmanLinsey Godfrey

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

When a psychotic fashion photographer turns a nerdish high school student into a superstar model, her obsession with him drives her to homicidal madness.


We are starting off in BYC with a female photographer shooing a sexy POC model with his shirt off. (This must be a Lifetime movie.) Oh, and it is. When the model’s girlfriend shows up, the female photographer pulls a butcher knife on them, screaming and crying. 

Cut to, LA. A nerdy boy named David is being dropped off at school by his mom. (Played by the ICONIC TV movie legend, Jamie Launer, of Melrose Place.) The popular kids make fun of him and call him a sissy. At the school assembly, Palm Vista High School is getting a new faculty member from New York. It is the female photographer from the beginning of the movie. Her name is Jennifer, and all the students think she is very cool. 

David (who wears glasses.) sits at lunch with another nerdy girl (who also wears glasses.) He gets up the nerve to ask her out, and Caitlyn turns him down. Photographer Jennifer sees something in David and asks him to do a shoot with her. A makeover happens, and, wow! David is a decent body. Jennifer thinks so too and makes him shoot shirtless. Later, Jennifer 100% masturbates to pictures of David. 

David’s confidence is instantly through the roof. Everyone in the school is shocked by his magazine spread. A popular girl named Brittney invites him to a party and mentions that they will be getting it on. Jennifer also invites David to another photoshoot and gets upset when he turns her town to go to the party with Brittney. Jennifer goes home slashes some pictures of Brittney. The next day she lies to Brittney about an Elle magazine photoshoot that she needs her for. The photoshoot happens with just Brittney and Jennifer on a balcony. Jennifer pushes Brittney over the edge and leaves a typed suicide note. Bye, Bye, Brittney.  

His mother, Suzanne, wants to know who is paying for these makeovers and photoshoots. She also doesn’t seem too impressed with David’s portfolio. (Rude!) David shows her the checks he has been receiving and says he wants to help pitch in. (The dad is a deadbeat and MIA.) Suzanne thinks it is inappropriate and is worried Jennifer is taking advantage of her son. David asks his mother to stop babying him and vows to help pay the bills. 

David is moving on to the next level and gets an offer from a model manager named Andrea. Jennifer is territorial and belittles Andrea, then she makes David sign her management contract instead. When David shows his mom the contract, she brings over the real talent manager, Andrea. Andrea informs David that he is a minor and can’t sign his own legal documents. (Duh!) Andrea and Suzanne work out a deal, and David will be repped by Andrea. (Not for long, because Jennifer strangles her in a fit of rage.) *One note about this, she makes it look like gang violence. Which is fucked up.

A student fashion show happens. The designs are mediocre. After the show, Suzzanne confronts Jennifer about taking half nude photos of her son. Jennifer daydreams of strangeling Suzzanne but snaps out of it. 

Caitlyn (the nerdy girl.) starts to develop a crush on David. Once Jennifer realizes she gives Caitlyn a makeover as well. (Cue our second makeover montage of the movie. I love it.) Jennifer brings Caitlyn back to her studio and takes some pictures. Then they drink a beer (or seven.) together. Jennifer gets the now drunk, Caitlyn, to take “sexy” photos with a baseball bat. 

David and Caitlyn become the hottest LA fashion models in town. The couple has fallen in love. David admits his feelings to Jennifer. Which is a big mistake. She is now plotting how to keep David all to herself. The plot involves a scene with a hired porn actor who takes off his shirt and then pants to reveal lots of muscles. (and one massive muscle.) Jennifer photoshops the nudes of Caitlyn with the nudes of the hunk porn guy and releases them. 

Caitlyn interrupts Jennifer’s class and accuses her of photoshopping. Jennifer denies everything and has an alibi for when the Caitlyn says the photos took place. David is heartbroken and betrayed, but he still loves her. David stands by Caitlyn’s side, but he has to ask just to make sure. Caitlyn throws him out of her car.

Jennifer is approached by Principal Wilson with Caitlyn’s accusations. He sides with Caitlyn and fires Jennifer. (Good job, Principal Wilson!!!) On her way off-campus, David stops Jennifer and asks where she is going. Jennifer invites him to coffee. They hold hands, and he begs her not to leave. Jennifer invites him back to her place, gets him drunk on bourbon, and seduces him. (Insert sex montage here.)

The next morning, David takes up with an intense hangover and an offer to travel around the world as a supermodel. David’s mom is not having it, but since David is now 18, he can make his own decisions. A few weeks pass. David is becoming suspicious of Jennifer’s around the world gig and her possessiveness over him. Caitlyn calls David after a breakup, and Jennifer grabs the phone from him to yell at Caitlyn. 

Suzzanne shows up at Jennifer’s house and tells David that Jennifer has mental health issues. Suzzanne begs her son to come home with her. He tells her to stop babying him. He needs babying because he can’t handle Jennifer on his own. David text Caitlyn to come to see him right away. As he packs his things, David finds the baseball bat and knows that Jennifer did do the photoshopping. Before he can leave the house, Jennifer hits him over the head with the bat.

Caitlyn calls Suzzanne to tell her that David wants to leave Jennifer. Caitlyn is going to go over and help David pack his things but ends up being held at gunpoint by Jennifer. David is tied up with a rope and gagged. Jennifer makes Caitlyn whip him and then cut his face with a box cutter. When Caitlyn refuses to cut David’s face, Jennifer shoots her. Caitlyn still has the box cutter and cuts David down while Jennifer gives her Villian monologue. Jennifer is about to kill both Caitlyn and David when Suzzanne shows up and stabs Jennifer with a butcher knife. (Way to go, Mom!) 

Six Months Later. Caitlyn and David are dating again and have moved on from modeling. 

Side Note

Minority Report: POC Model, Principal Wilson, A teacher, Caitlyn’s new boyfriend.

You can say “Pussy” and “Dumb Ass Bitch” on Lifetime? Who knew! 

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Overall rating

🔪🔪🔪 (3 Knives)

🍷🍷 (2 glasses of wine required)

*Photo Credit: © 2019 Lifetime

1 Comment

  1. I’m super surprised you’re included in the list, but no reviews I’ve read from any of the regular lifetime reviewers (other than a few on IMDb) have acknowledged the awkward and obvious filter on the main character’s actor’s face! It was super spotty so you could still see his acne from time to time! I appreciate them using an actor with imperfect skin to play the underdog nerdy character without doing things the other way around and adding in imperfections with makeup, but it didn’t make sense how him becoming a model and having one face mask applied made him virtually perfect/poreless. No other characters had this filter applied too, not even the other models. It’s just a detail that adds to the wonderful campiness of the film, idk why some haven’t acknowledged it!

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