Yeah, you’re seeing “Playdate” as “Just added” or “trending” on your streaming video menu.
Might you — I — WE — have missed a good fright, not catching this 2012 (or 2014) title when it came out?
The short answer? “No.” The confirmation? “Playdate” is — shudder — “A Lifetime Original Movie.”
But let’s not allow bad branding to make this an utter write off. Let’s give it the consideration feature-length movie any thriller is due.
It’s a “There’s something weird about the new neighbors” tale.
Emily (Marguerite Moreau) may sense it, start putting together the clues.
Husband Brian (Richard Ruccolo) dismisses her concerns as “cabin fever.” The old ball’n chain is going stir crazy after taking a leave of absence from work to “re-connect” with her family.
Emily’s “Maybe there’s something going on” gets a “Maybe somebody’s over-reacting” from Brian. He’s just happy there’s a twenyish son, Titus (Julien Dean Lacroix) to help him get his ’64 Mustang project car up and running.
Emily and Brian’s daughter Olive (Natalie Alyn Lind) is grateful to have a new playmate, even though mop-topped neighbor kid Billy (Aidan Potter) is creepy, plays “blood brother” games with knives and repeats a nursery rhyme his mom, Tamara (Abby Brammell) says, a little too often for comfort.
Fly away home.
Your house is on fire.
And your children all gone.
And there you have it, our heroine can see what nobody else wants to hear about — especially not her husband or the male cop called in after a break-in that Tamara’s boys ended with a baseball bat.
All that’s left is setting things in motion. A little INDUSTRIAL GRADE foreshadowing — “This is our dog, Hunter!” And what do guys who work on cars sometimes have to do?
Titus — that NAME — keeps his hair over his eyes. He’s got to be up to no good.
And that little boy who fell off a cliff in the opening teaser scene? Who was he?
“Playdate” is a blandly predictable tale, from Emily’s “Sport Maternity Vehicle” (Volvo SUV), the “Little Boxes” of “Weeds” suburbia, to the vague stranger who dodges even the simplest questions when you show up (bringing your Irish Setter) to introduce yourself.
“Where are you from?
We know everything that’s coming, and Moreau and Brammell’s best efforts can’t hide it.
From “Has anybody seen Hunter?” to “I’d rather have roses on my table than diamonds around my neck,” to the inevitable — “You’re being stupid. “Being stupid gets people HURT.”
This isn’t the worst thriller I’ve seen of late. But the ending that comes after all those predictable twists and turns and action beats is so thoroughly botched that you’ll feel cheated.
I know I did.
MPAA Rating: TV-14
Cast: Marguerite Moreau, Richard Ruccolo, Abby Brammell, Natalie Alyn Lind, Aidan Potter
Running time: 1:25