Friendship Never Dies (2021 Lifetime)
Cast: Lauren Buglioli, Leah Merritt, Harlan Drum, Jadon Cal
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Lucy welcomes her daughter’s best friend, Jenna, into her house after the mysterious murder of her mother. Worried about her obsessive behavior, Lucy starts to suspect that Jenna may have even killed her own mother. And after a high school boy is found murdered, Lucy must face the shocking truth.
The movie starts with peppy Lifetime generic pop music, the best kind. “We only want the good vibes; we’re gonna party all night.” (Yes, generic pop music, that’s right!) A pretty blonde mother named Lucy drops off her daughter, Evelyn, at the high school. Evelyn is pretty aimless and hasn’t even picked a college yet. She HAS picked a statement red lip to contrast with her dark hair and pale skin. Evelyn has also picked the wrong friend, bad girl Brianna.
Brianna gets Eveyln out of class with a fake note, and they skip school, giggling like… school girls. (I mean, they ride bikes with baskets on the front.) They go down to a closed section of a national park and jump off a cliff into a lagoon. Brianna is fearless, of course, and pretends to drown as some sort of test. Evelyn passes by, trying to save her friend, so Brianna rewards her with a heart-shaped necklace. They will be friends forever.
Mindy, Brianna’s mother, gets a job opportunity that will move them out of state. Brianna is not happy about that. Good thing she won’t have to move because Brianna’s mother is murdered with tranquilizer darts. Brianna finds the body the next morning and calls the police. A hunk named Detective Kent interviews Brianna and almost sends her to foster care. Evelyn barges in rudely and asks her mom to take Brianna in temporarily.
You’d think Brianna would be happy to move in with her BFF, but she cries in the mirror and slaps herself silly while putting on lipstick. At school, she seems to be more popular than ever. Especially with a boy named Alex, who gives her flowers. (Which is pretty thoughtful for a teenage boy.) Evelyn is jealous of the new blossoming relationship.
Meanwhile, Lucy is on the hunk for a blood relative of Brianna’s so she can stop taking care of the troubled teen. She does the typically Lifetime mother stuff. Looking up a name online, breaking into the crime scene, and generic snooping. Conveniently she finds a clearly marked address book and is one step closer. Someone else is also at the crime scene and drops a box on Lucy. (Putting her in an air cast, haha.)
Greg Olson, Mindy’s ex-boyfriend, has been following Lucy around. He tells her that he didn’t kill Mindy or inappropriately touch Brianna. He confronts Lucy in a parking lot and tells her he suspects Brianna killed her mother because she is a master manipulator. Lucy scares him off with her car alarm but starts to believe his story after a plagiarism incident with her daughter and Brianna. Lucy finds a relative of Briana’s named Sarah Louise. (She uses the old pencil over a torn-out page to see the indentation.)
A strange pillow fight montage happens with Eveyln, Brianna, and some blue confetti. Then they look at the stars on the ceiling while holding hands. They argue but makeup quickly. Something is off with the friendship.)
Lucy catches Brianna on the phone in the middle of the night and demands to know who’s on the phone. Brianna uses typical teenage retorts and storms off. She even slams a door to bring more adolescent angst to the moment. The argument drives Lucy to visit Sarah Lousies’ home. She finds the woman shot with a tranquilizer dart as well. Cue
Detective Hunk brooding around the crime scene as he tells Lucy that it couldn’t have been Greg because he was at the police station.
Evelyn and Brianna tell one another secrets in the backyard while Lucy rushes home to protect her daughter. Lucy comes home, puts on a pot of tea, and hears a rattling in the laundry room. She finds a tranquilizer dart in Brianna’s clothing and calls Detective Hunk and then child protective services. Her calls are but short by her daughter in a red burette.
Everyone watches Brianna cut an apple with a large knife. The scene is needlessly tense. (I mean, I know it is a thriller, but come on.) Lucy tries to warn her daughter about her best friend. Evelyn freaks out and sobs uncontrollably.
Brianna casually goes upstairs, puts on some lipstick, and runs away to kiss Alex. She leaves a Bon voyage message on the mirror-like Drag Race. This sets Evelyn off, and she smacks her mother. Lucy can tell something is VERY wrong with her daughter and locks her in her room without her cellphone. (but leaves the laptop.)
Alex turns up dead, also killed with a tranquilizer dart. He holds Evelyn’s BFF necklace in his hands. Detective Hunk is no closer to solving these murders. He rushes over to Lucy’s house to see if she knows anything. Lucy is surprised to learn that he daughter is not in her room and has left from the window.
Lucy rushes to Brianna’s home and climbs the stairs slowly. She finds who she thinks is her daughter tied up and covered in gasoline. Only it isn’t Evelyn, it is Brianna. Evelyn shows up in bad Marilyn Monroe drag and a lighter. Evelyn claims that she is nothing without her BFF and won’t let anyone take her away from her. Then she goes on about twinkling starts, but Luck and Brianna take the wigged assailant out. Detective Hunk shows up and takes Evie away.
4 months later, Lucy visits her daughter in a mental institution. They have a well-written conversation about mental health. Lucy still supports her daughter, and they embrace. I love this ending so much better than a “crazy” person locked away in a padded cell.
Lucy even gets some closure with Brianna until she sees Brianna giving another girl a friendship necklace. We realize that she WAS the master manipulator all along.
Minority Report: None.
I love Lauren Buglioli and the twist. Overall some great writing. Props to Kelly Peters, Amy Katherine Taylor. BUT no actors of color in this movie? How is that possible? Unacceptable.
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