Holy WTF on a cracker! Lifetime movies have been so magnificent lately that I’m worried I’ll jinx it, so obviously I just knocked on three different types of wood, rubbed a lucky rabbit’s foot, and crossed all my fingers and toes. The finger thing made it hard to type, so I took the risk and uncrossed them to give you this review. Did you watch last night’s premiere of Social Nightmare? If you did, there’s a good chance you saw the twist coming from a mile away. In case you haven’t watched the movie yet, I’ll do my best to keep the suspense up, but clearly there will have to be spoilers along the way. I am beyond excited to talk this out with you.
The movie opens with our protagonist Cat (Kirsten Prout) hanging with her friend Emily (Chloe Bridges) and her boyfriend Daniel (Brandon Smith), who has a cool zig-zag beard and a part shaved into his hair, just to give you a mental picture. Cat and Daniel have a make-out sesh in her closet while Emily third-wheels it by drinking hard lemonade and pretending to talk to Cat’s teddy bear. I wish I was kidding. In the closet (cue R. Kelly stuck in my head) Daniel reveals his adopted sister’s birth mother has been contacting them, but the sister doesn’t know she’s adopted and blah blah this all sounds very difficult, but I thought this movie was about naked pictures or something. Oh, I see Cat is promising to send Daniel something special that night. That’s more like it.
We learn more about Cat, like that she’s running for class president against Emily and she wants to go to Brown and she has a “four-year plan,” which is a phrase people put in screenplays when they want to let us know that a character is smart and ambitious. But this is a Lifetime movie teenager, so I knew that before I started watching. She’s also obviously 17. Her mom (Daryl Hannah, duh) is happy for Cat and all her goals, but you can tell she’s also sad about her daughter leaving home. Well, as much as Daryl Hannah’s current face will let her be sad.
Of course Cat beats Emily in the presidential race and then gets into Brown when Emily doesn’t, because Emily is another word for “red herring.” Since Cat has this crazy idea that she’ll actually want to hang out with her high school BFF in college, she helps Emily contest her rejection with a letter. Mom helps, and she mixes up “proceed” and “precede,” which the girls then make fun of her for. Daryl continues trying to make her face sad. They then throw an Abraham Lincoln quote in there willy-nilly and call it a night.
Cue later that night when Cat sees on her Facebook Buddyme page that someone has used her account to post a bragging status about getting into Brown using the very same Abe Lincoln quote. Poor Honest Abe didn’t do anything to these people. The next day at school things get worse when a website is passed around gossiping about people using photos Cat took on the yearbook camera. She gets kicked off the yearbook, a mean girl throws condoms at her, and then people make a petition to have her impeached. I can’t decide if that’s more or less dumb than the Batfleck petitions. Let’s call it even. It doesn’t help that the website also outed her VP as gay, something he only told Cat, because of course. There was a moment where I thought maybe this was a multiple-personality thing and Cat was doing all this herself without remembering.
Needless to say, Cat gets impeached and runner-up Emily replaces her, because I guess student government doesn’t work like real government. When Cat realizes Emily got into Yale, a school she had the nerve to never even tell Cat she was applying to, she does a lot of eardrum-shattering whining to Mom, who tells her she should just live at home and go to community college. Um, only if it’s like Greendale.
This is where things get weird. A creepy guy who says he’s a student but looks about 30 years old approached Cat and tells her he knows a computer genius who can help with her problem. This leads Cat to Cool D’s house, where she’s almost assaulted while the 30-year-old films it. On top of all this, the hacker told Daniel’s sister that she’s adopted, so obviously that closet-kissing romance is over. Oh, and then she gets her head slammed into a bathroom counter by a bully, gets prescribed “happy pills” for anxiety, and has her English paper switched with a plagiarized one. Why do Lifetime teens have it the hardest?
Meanwhile, it’s time for Emily’s life to be ruined. A creeper shows up with Mike’s Hard Lemonade (how original) at her door, having found her on a website called Honey Daddies. Unfortunately Chris Hansen is not on hand to ask Herbert the Pervert (Em’s words) to have a seat, and her dad has to scare him away. Emily goes over to Cat’s house to yell at her and get in the line of the night: “Who’s hacking you, Bill Gates?” Clearly Emily’s life is now ruined. Yale revokes her acceptance. She embraces Daniel to deal with things, then walks away to talk to the principal. Daniel, to thin air: “She can’t do that.”
Aaand here come the nudey pics, which are actually not nude at all, but just underwear shots. Daniel shares them with the whole school, but he didn’t do all that other stuff. How dare Cat assume that?! I’m disappointed in you, Daniel. I was digging that zig-zag beard. On top of all this, Cat gets a letter from Brown revoking her acceptance just as Emily gets one accepting her appeal. This might break the record for most awful things to happen to a Lifetime teen.
Here’s where it gets great. While trying to delete her Honey Daddies account, Emily notices that whoever set it up used “precede” instead of “proceed.” This was very entertaining to me, not because I was shocked (I’d called it as being the mom at minute 45), but because they actually used the mom’s vocabulary mistake as the big reveal. I’m imagining M. Night Shyamalan using a misplaced modifier to reveal the twist in his next movie. Or maybe ending a sentence with a preposition. We of course then cut to Mom watching Cat sleep, the ultimate sign of a Lifetime villain. I knew Daryl Hannah was fishy. Get it? Fishy. Because Splash. You get it.
How obvious was this twist, you ask? I messaged my friend afterward saying I totally called it. She looked up the description without having watched the movie and replied, “Was it her mom?”
Because people in movies always figure out the mystery separately at the exact same time, Cat immediately finds her lost phone in her mom’s desk, and by peeking at her computer she learns that her mom not only posted as her and forged the Brown rejection letter, but also filmed her with a teddy bear camera. Even more reason to hide your stuffed animals, as if them possibly coming to life and killing you while you sleep wasn’t enough. Mom goes into a big lecture about how she had a miscarriage and her husband left and she doesn’t want Cat to leave her or she’ll kill herself and blah blah blah. The gist? She’s cray cray.
Emily shows up to save the day but of course Mom smashes her head into a mirror and tries to choke her. Cat calls 911 and the police get there in approximately 10 seconds. Were they already stationed outside or something? Cut to Cat and Emily rooming together at Brown, where Cat Skypes with her institutionalized mother. Yeah, whatever, I’m more interested in how much floor space they have in that dorm room. And the beds aren’t even lofted? What’s that all about?