Sleeping with Danger (2020 Lifetime)
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Inspired by Ann Rule’s true crime collection Mortal Danger and Other True Cases. Paul Carter (Antonio Cupo) was like a knight in shining armor when he met flight attendant Grace Tanner (Elisabeth R hm) and swept her into a passionate love affair. But her dream man quickly became her nightmare as his jealous rage ultimately led to a brutal attack. Incredibly, Grace was able to escape and go into hiding. Fearing for her life and the safety of other women Paul might seduce, Grace works with the police to bring Paul to justice.
A woman is running through the woods, being chased by her husband. It is a Lifetime movie, after all.
Cut to 1994 Portland; we meet Grace, a 38 years old single woman who meets her friend Sheri for drinks to talk about her life lacking direction. Grace goes to the doctor for a health screening. He is handsome and attentive to her health. If she isn’t in love with him. I am. The results come in, and Dr. Paul takes Grace out for a date at a diner. Then they have a lot of sex. Like, a lot.
Things with Dr. Paul are hot and heavy, and they start a relationship. Dr. Paul is possessive and jealous in the relationship, and Grace reassures him with… more sex. (Like violent sex.) Grace brings up the rough sex, and he apologizes. Then he entraps her in a pyramid scheme? He isolates Grace from her friends, and they move to a remote location in the woods.
Grace finds some documents that implicate Dr. Paul as a peeping tom, and she also finds restraining orders. When she brings it up to him, Dr. Paul makes up excuses and is eventually abusive—slapping Grace across the face. Grace tells Sheri about the abuse, and when Sheri tells Grace to leave Dr. Paul, Grace shuts Sheri down and promises to leave him if he does it again.
Dr. Paul is thankful Grace takes him back after writing “I’m sorry” on paper and hanging them all over the house. He makes a toast at a party about commitment to her. He proposes, and she reluctantly says yes, because she is put on the spot. Dr. Paul asks Grace to stop hanging out with Sheri. He doesn’t change his abusive ways and is verbally, physically, and emotionally abusive towards Grace. Going as far as pulling a gun on her to threaten her.
Grace enters herself into a shelter for abused women, even though she rationalizes Paul’s behavior and doesn’t see herself as an abuse victim. Grace’s therapist tries to help her see clearly, but Grace is not listening. Sheri visits her friend and offers Grace a place to stay. She is a supportive and loving friend who doesn’t have to prove herself right. Grace goes back to the house to pack up her things and makes up with Paul. She sets some boundaries to make herself feel in control and takes him back. It is so sad to see.
Months go by, and Grace says Paul is back to his old self. She gets letters from the abused woman shelter, and Paul is worried she will leave him again. Paul makes Grace a smoothy, and they go for a hike. She starts to feel ill and heads back to their remote cabin to rest. Paul promises to take care of his wife, even when she begs him to take her to the hospital because she is feverish. His treatment? More drugged shakes.
Grace tries to call for help, but the phone lines are down in their house, and Paul is turning away visitors. He won’t even let her go to the store for herself. Grace sends him to but something for her and makes a run for it. Dr. Paul catches her and forces her back in the car. He beats her, ties her to the bed, and rapes her.
Desperate and fearing for her life, Grace frees herself from her restraints and runs into the woods. Dr. Paul chases her with a gun, and we are back where the movie started. A man finds Grace in his shed, and she begs him to call the police. Paul escapes before the police can arrest him, and Grace goes into hiding.
Two years later, Grace is living a low key life on an island. There has been no sign of Paul. He meets another woman and terrorizes her. Grace is focused on finding Paul and making him pay for his actions. She sends a detective to investigate, and they find Paul trying to escape.
Paul gets abusive with his new girlfriend, Neva, and calls her Grace by accident. Pauls’ co-worker asks him about it, and they have gross male bonding time over “sluts.”
Grace tracks down Paul’s girlfriend, Neva. Grace gives the information to the police, and they call the local Sheriff. They are just in time because Paul was about to kill Neva and his co-worker Stewart. The police go to the wrong house, and Paul kills them and then himself.
Sheri and Grace are reunited with the danger of Paul out of the way. Grace shares her story with a support group and helps abuse victims.
For any abuse victims and survivors who need support, Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 for TTY, or if you’re unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
Ann Rule was a true crime author and New York Times Bestseller. She passed away in 2015 but got a writing credit here, which is nice.
Minority Report: Sheri, Detective, Stewart,
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime
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