B-movie ‘Born Bad’ gets good grade

Michael Welch stars in 'Born Bad'
Michael Welch stars in ‘Born Bad’

Born Bad is the product of quite an unusual union.

The Asylum is a low-budget independent film (okay fine, B-movie) studio known for movies with former ‘80s teen idols fighting giant sea creatures. And their collaborator? Lifetime, equally as big a titan in the guilty pleasures field. However, this film is one I’m not ashamed to say was good.

Airing on Lifetime months ago in a TV-friendly version, Born Bad is now on DVD and Blu Ray in its original uncensored form.

Brooke Duncan (Bonnie Dennison) has moved to a new town with her father, Walter (David Chokachi), and stepmother, Katherine (Meredith Monroe). Having a step parent is bad enough but Katherine is expecting so that unnerves Brooke further.

Hitting the town one night, she meets Denny (Michael Welch). He really seems to get her and offers a comfort for her to escape her feelings about home. But even there he charms them effortlessly, and is soon playing basketball with dad and fixing up stepmom’s car.

However, we know better. The very first scene in the movie is of Denny raping and murdering a young woman (Amanda Ward). This is a hobby he keeps up even after he’s started going with Brooke. And with her, before long his friendly veneer begins to crack. Katherine, exercising her stepmaternal instincts, becomes concerned and starts to do some digging. Of course what she finds is far from good news, and the stage is set for his depraved nature to come out in full force.

This is something rougher and grimmer than what usually seems to run on Lifetime. Had I seen this without knowing where it came from, I don’t think I would’ve made the connection. Yet at the same time it feels right for it. At the heart of the story is the relationship between Brooke and Katherine. Brooke starts out very cold to her and unwilling to give her a chance. But as the movie progresses and she sees that Katherine really does care for her – if putting your life on the line doesn’t show that, then what does? – Brooke finds that she can start caring for her, too.

Writer/director Jared Cohn was wise to clue the viewer in to Denny from the start as opposed to trying to keep his true personality hidden as so many of these kinds of movies do. Showing events from his side lets us know just what he is capable of and the path that Brooke is seemingly heading toward. I’d even say some of the wickedness he shows is more than he does in the end. Had the movie only told the story from Brooke’s perspective, a lot of the tension would have been removed and the audience would not get to see the real Denny.

It was nice to see Monroe and Dennison star in this, particularly the former. I became familiar with her through appearances in notable episodes of Masters of Horror and Cold Case, and she delivers solid work here too. Dennison I did not know of before this, but I definitely do now.

The extras are a making of featurette, a gag reel, the trailer, and trailers for other movies.

Born Bad is a standout for both The Asylum and Lifetime. One request for next time: Maureen McCormick as a woman trying to improve her relationship with her family, and fighting against a massive man-of-war.

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