12 Desperate Hours (2023 Lifetime)

12 Desperate Hours (2023 Lifetime)

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Cast: Harrison Thomas, Samantha Mathis

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Kidnapping in the Grand Canyon Lifetime Movie, Top National Parks, and antibiotics? Lifetime Uncorked

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

Adapted from Ann Rule’s Last Chance, Last Dance true crime collection, this Lifetime original follows Val (Samantha Mathis), a mother who finds herself and her young children held hostage by Denny (Harrison Thomas) when he forces his way into her house after committing murder earlier that day. In order to save them and her husband Mark (David Conrad), who was due home at any moment, Val offers to drive Denny wherever he wants and becomes his unwilling accomplice as he goes on a rampage of destruction. Despite the traumatic events, Val builds a rapport with her captor and uses the relationship to help save the lives of bystanders, herself and even the life of her captor. (2023).

Recap/Wine Thoughts

The movie begins at Christmas; Val takes care of her family and looks forward to a date with her husband, even though they struggle to make ends meet. Mark has other plans and works late to pay the bills.

Val’s kids Parker and Spencer, are home for winter break. Parker struggles with his reading and hates school. Val gives an impressive speech to boost him up. She makes lemonade for an annoying neighbor, and there is a knock at the door. 

Denny Tuohmy bursts into the home with a shotgun pointed at Val and forces her and the kids into the living room. Val puts the kids in their rooms and tries to reason with the shooter as the neighbor saws wood next door. Val asks Denny what he wants and feeds him lunch. He hasn’t eaten in a while. 

Mark calls the house to apologize to his wife but Denny hangs up the phone mid-conversation. When he hears Parker in the other room, he screams at Val for not telling him she has two children. Val realizes she needs to get the crazy man out of her house. She offers him the car in the garage and drives him where ever he needs to go. That way, she can’t call the police. 

Mark comes home early and notices the car is missing from the garage. He saves his kids and calls the police, but they won’t doing anything because it has only been a few hours since Val left the house.

Denny takes Val to his ex-girlfriend Cherie’s house. Cherie isn’t home, but her mother, Francine, is. Francine has rollers in her hair and isn’t shy about telling Denny how much he is a deadbeat. She is unphased by his shotgun and downright bullies him. 

They leave home, but Denny decides to go back to shoot Francine. Val knows he will kill her at this point but tries to remain calm. Denny explains that he is doing all of this to get Cherie back. 

Denny takes Val to the bowling alley because it was there where he and Cherie met while on a bowling team. Val asks if she can make a phone call to let her kids know she is ok. She smartly doesn’t try to tell them where she is and even smiles when Denny asks if he and Cherie can come to Christmas dinner at her house. 

Cherie is having doubts if she made the right decision to break up with Denny. (He will help her solidify that decision REAL soon!) Cherie works at a nursing home and has her co-worker lie when Denny calls to see if she is working. 

Val makes a run for it after smashing Denny’s foot with a bowling ball. She makes it to the car and realizes that he has the car keys; so much for playing it cool. Denny now thinks of Val like everyone else, LIARS.

He forces Val to drive to the nursing home to see if Cherie is in there. Before he goes in, he asks Val for relationship advice. They go inside and find Cherie’s office, where crumpled-up photos of the couple are in the trash. Val writes an SOS letter, and Jessica gets the message. She calls 911. 

Cherie leaves work and comes home to find her mother dead on the floor at the hands of Denny. She calls the police, and they realize Val is in read danger. Mark goes with the police and is “helping” find his wife. 

Val and Denny drive around, and they are running low on gas. Val says she can’t keep driving him around, watching him hurt people, but he screams at her to buy gas. They have no money, so Val talks to the gas station attendant instead of sending Denny in because he is unhinged. Val tries to convince him to help her get home to her kids. She mentions that she has two kids. It works, and she gets the gas. 

Cherie answers a call from Denny while he is on a pay phone. She acts like she still loves him and asks him where he is. The police trace the call and see he is only a block away. 

Val drives Denny to a remote area as he cries over Cherie not loving him anymore. Val explains that her husband doesn’t look at him like he loves her anymore, either. She explains that time is precious and you cannot waste it. She says all she wants in the world is to get back to him and her boys. Denny promises to take her home to them soon. 

Their final stop is Denny’s brother Jesse’s house. Jesse tells him to spit out what he wants because Denny only comes around for handouts. Jesse’s pregnant wife comes too and laughs in Denny’s face for being such a loser. She taunts him and calls Denny a “sinkhole.” Val defends Denny and shames them for dragging him through the mud and making fun of their own family. 

They leave the house, and Denny gives Val the keys. He tells her to go home. Denny goes back inside and almost kills everyone, but Val follows him and stops him from killing anyone else. 

The police continue to track Denny and eventually blockade the roads. The police surround them, and Denny freaks out, shouting directions to Val. Val tries to tell him that he doesn’t have to die here. She talks him into discarding his weapon, exiting the car, and cooperating with the police. 

Val and Mark are reunited. He wears a watch she got him for a Christmas present. 

On Christmas Day, Cherie visits Denny in prison and asks why he killed her mother. He doesn’t have an answer.  

The movie ends with kids singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.” (Sooo, is this a Christmas movie?)

There is a bizarre ending scene of Denny in a jail cell, imagining a tropical vacation. Then the screen flashes green, and he is abducted by aliens, I’m assuming! 

Side Note

Inspired by True events leaves room for so much interpretation, right? 

Minority Report: Detective, Bowling Manager, Jessica, Jimmy, 

Gina Gershon made some artistic choices that I liked, and focusing on Val’s ability to reason with someone going through a psychotic breakdown was interesting to watch.

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Overall rating 

Number of Kills: 

 🔪🔪 (2 knives)

Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale) 


Should you watch it?

Pour it up! (Give it a shot)

Put a Cork in It (Skip It)

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