Lifetime Movie A Sister’s Nightmare Made Up For Its Meh-ness With A Perfect Ending

Lifetime movie A Sister's Nightmare 2013

This week’s Lifetime movie A Sister’s Nightmare is further proof of Lifetime’s embarrassingly small vocabulary (see: A Mother’s Nightmare, A Sister’s Revenge, Social Nightmare). It also proves that I am not always so good at figuring these movies out. I might need to have my “Calling the Twist” card revoked from last week, since I didn’t see this one coming at all. But that only meant I enjoyed it more. I sat through 115 minutes of the movie with “meh” running through my brain like one of those distracting news crawls. But during the last five minutes I sprang up in my seat and my eyeballs briefly turned into googly eyes. What an ending! Obviously, the spoilers start now.

We start the movie in a deleted scene from the movie Girl, Interrupted, as Cassidy (Natasha Henstridge) receives electroshock therapy in a psychiatric hospital. We then see her laughing maniacally in a terrible wig and scribbling on her arm like a middle school emo in a meeting with her doctor. Ugh, I hate when they take so long to reveal the villain. Get on with it already, Lifetime!

We then meet Jane (Kelly Rutherford), a lady cop (how original) who wears sunglasses and chews gum and even pops it sometimes. Her new partner is clearly Canadian and also really serves no purpose to the story. Jane has just rushed into her teenage daughter Emily’s (Peyton List) room to comfort her after a nightmare about drowning. Jane’s fiancée Phil walks in, and oh my God it’s Matthew Settle and he’s wearing glasses and oh my God Lily and Rufus from Gossip Girl are playing a couple again and this is just like all my dreams got mixed in a bowl and baked into a warm chocolate chip dream cookie! These two should love each other in every movie and TV show to the end of time. But I guess we should get back to the plot.

Cassidy has just been discharged from the hospital and the first place she goes is to Jane’s driveway to stare creepily at her house. Emily finds her there and invites her in without knowing who she is or why she’s there or how she knows her mom or why she tied her ponytail so tight. So she’s going to be one of those Lifetime teens, I see. She’s also the kind of Lifetime teen who blurts out, “You said your older sister died in a car crash!” when Jane nervously explains who Cassidy is. Also it doesn’t bother me at all that Natasha Henstridge is actually six years younger than Kelly Rutherford. IT DOESN’T BOTHER ME AT ALL.

At dinner, we learn that Phil is getting his law degree and also does most of the cooking around the house, because when a Lifetime man hasn’t been killed off or turned into a villain or sent on a business trip to rural China, he bakes chocolate cake. After dinner Cassidy and Emily play a game of chess, and Cassidy chooses to play the black pieces, because do you think she’s evil, you guys? I’m not totally sure yet. Oh, I see she’s in the kitchen in the middle of the night grabbing a knife and hiding it under her bed. Okay, I get it now. I think Jane gets it also, based on the flashbacks we keep seeing to murdered people and the fact that Jane sleeps upright in a chair outside Cassidy’s room. You only sleep upright in a chair when you want to keep an eye on someone or you couldn’t stay awake during the fifth Johnny Depp movie at your middle school sleepover.

Lifetime Movie A Sister's Nightmare 2013

Cassidy really wants to bond with Emily. They discuss Emily’s debilitating fear of water, and Cassidy gives her a CD that says “My Nirvana” on it. Either this is a mix tape of some sort or the filmmakers thought putting an extra word in front of an existing band name would be the best route to take. There’s that limited vocabulary again. I’m sure next week’s movie will feature the popular groups His Coldplay and Your Aerosmith. Classics. But it doesn’t matter anyway because Cassidy doesn’t even own a CD player because she uses a tablet, and I feel old.

Meanwhile, Jane is enjoying her trip to Paranoia City, population one, by putting a lock on Emily’s door and leaving a baby monitor in her room so she and Phil can enjoy the relaxing sounds of heavy breathing as they drift off to sleep. This is too much for Phil, who demands Jane explain herself. Cue the flashback. We know it’s a flashback because it’s all glowy and echoey and Jane has her hair pushed back with a headband, the number one sign that something happened 15 years ago. Jane says Cassidy has a borderline personality and was always mean to her as a child, threatening to tell the kids at school that she wet the bed or saying she’d burn the shed down with her and their mom inside, because those things are totally comparable. She also apparently killed her husband and let their baby almost drown before shooting herself in the chest. Who was that baby, you ask? Oh, just Emily, who has been raised by Jane to believe she’s her mother. Seems kind of cruel not to explain to your niece-daughter where her water fear came from or tell her you’re her aunt and not her mom, but whatever.

Meanwhile, Cassidy hears Emily having a nightmare, and because the door is locked the natural solution is to climb in the window to check on her. Emily somehow finds this sweet and not scary. I’m sure she’d also find it sweet that Cassidy is sleeping with Emily’s framed photo under her pillow like she expects the tooth fairy to exchange it for a meaningful mother-daughter relationship. Or possibly just a dollar. Needless to say, Jane immediately installs bars on the windows.

Lifetime Movie A Sister's Nightmare 2013

Cassidy is determined to help Emily overcome her fear of water, so she takes her on a bridge to discuss suicide and then plans a trip to a secluded lake. She might be the most boring psycho Lifetime has ever shared with us. Meanwhile, Jane is distracted at work, so her captain diagnoses her with Bags Under the Eye Syndrome and sends her to a therapist. Eventually he also finds out she’s been stealing surveillance equipment and puts her on medical leave. She comes home to find Emily leaving for a camping trip with Cassidy and somehow fails to stop her from getting into the car. She then just stands around her house nervously instead of chasing after them. Her partner conveniently shows up just in time for her to steal his police car and his gun and take off. She tells him on the phone that her car isn’t fast enough. So what was she going to do? Not go?

At the lake, Cassidy has brought a bathing suit for Emily so they can go in the water together. She also brought that kitchen knife and has hidden it in her boot. Whenever people in movies do that I always think they’re going to stab themselves. How do they not stab themselves? Please explain. Regardless, Jane uses a GPS tracker to catch up with them and then Emily starts to ruin everything again by screaming.

Here’s where the perfect ending comes into play. Cassidy promises she never meant to hurt Emily and begs Jane to tell her the truth. I immediately gasped and knew what was coming next. We see a flashback to what really happened. It was Jane who killed Cassidy’s husband and almost killed Cassidy, because she was jealous. Even in the childhood flashbacks with their extremely Canadian-sounding father, it was Jane who was the mean one. IT WAS THE OTHER SISTER’S NIGHTMARE! Cassidy was doing all those creepy things to protect her daughter! She lured Jane there to get a confession out of her. And Emily seems strangely okay with just swapping out moms, but no matter. Now Jane is in a psychiatric hospital. But dear lord, what happened to Phil?! Did he pass his midterms?!

(Images: Lifetime)

You can reach this post's author, Jill O’Rourke, on twitter.
Share This Post:
    • isabella

      Good one… I didn’t see the ending coming at all.. I wonder though if the clue throughout the movie was Jane’s greasy flat hair.. I couldn’t stand to look at her bed head. I kept telling her to go take a shower an wash that hair.. I think one scene it looked fresh..(when she went to the hospital) but even then it was terribly flat. I noticed everyone else in the whole movie even the men had nicely done hair. Maybe this was a clue, I don’t know.. even the first scene before the sister arrived Jane’s hair was disgusting.. then just kept getting worse and worse and worse throughout.. Okay enough about the bad hair…
      There really was no way to tell that the ending would go that way. There were no clues since all the flashbacks we saw at first were of Cassie being mean to Jane so how would anyone guess it was the other way around. The dumb thing is why Jane allowed Cass to live at her house being that she was so paranoid of her being around her that was just dumb writing right there, there was just no reason since she obviously didn’t like or trust her sister so there is no obligation to help her out really.

      • Jill O’Rourke

        Haha, I need to do more hair-related espionage when I watch these movies. Clues everywhere!

    • isabella

      oh…. and I also was a Gossip Girl fan.. but for some reason I did not recognize Rufus even though he was familiar looking I just didn’t pay attention to him since Jane’s hair bothered me so much ( do not know why I couldn’t stop looking at that bad hair, I think I just hate when people don’t was their hair (in real life and have bed head).. I think Rufus had work done because he looks much better than he did in gossip girl. Once again Lily plays the dominant role in the relationship to Rufus…

    • Cbalducc

      I kinda figgered out the twist about halfway though this flick. The lesson to be learned here is that cops go bad, and bed hair is a telltale!

    • ChiChi

      I could not stand Jane’s hair. It bugged me. I wanted to grab her and push her into a shower. Okay, now my O.C.D. is talking. But still. It was annoying.

      • isabella

        lol, I felt the same way.. I guess maybe I’m considered ocd because I couldn’t get past it. I am use to seeing that actress with pretty well done hair I guess.

      • ChiChi

        Me TOO! I don’t have serious OCD, but still. Enough to drive my friends crazy.

    • T Blackwell

      I didn’t ‘get’ this movie at all! If Jane was the ‘bad’ one, how the heck did she NOT go to jail after killing Cassidy’s husband and why would Cassidy have gone to the mental institution instead of Jane?? Also, how in the world would Jane have ended up raising the girl if SHE was the crazy one? This movie didn’t make a BIT of sense to me!

      • Cbalducc

        Forget it, T. It’s Lifetime!

      • Jill O’Rourke

        That should be their new slogan.

      • Jill O’Rourke

        The only way I can think to explain it is that Jane mentioned Cassidy’s treatment affected her memory, so maybe she ended up believing she really was the murderer. But then wouldn’t she have had to have a psychological evaluation first? Ah, it’s hopeless.

      • T Blackwell

        ha ha! you are right! I hated it, though, because it started out being such an interesting movie and then ended up being one of those that kind of ‘left you flat’ at the end and feeling like the time you spent watching it was wasted!

      • isabella

        Well in the beginning of the movie during a flashback they showed Jane on the phone with 911 saying she “found’ her brother in law shot. strangly in that scene I saw womens shoes next to the husbands body which made me think there were two victims. Anyway, I suppose Jane’s plan could have been to shoot the husband and ‘blame’ her sister.. (as usual just like when they were kids put the blame on her sister) would be her word against her sisters.. and in reality who is more likely to murder the husband, the wife or sister in law.? Mostlikley the wife has the motive. So instead what happened ‘lucky for Jane” was her sister was traumatize by this and lost her memory/went into shock.. and what added to her memory loss was the shock treatments at the hospital. So basically Jane lucked out for 15years. This is what I gathered as to why she wasn’t blamed for the murder to begin with.. She just wasn’t the likely suspect. The spouse always is and since the spouse couldn’t deny it due to memory loss they just went with Jane since she was there, remembered everything and was the one who called 911.

    • T Blackwell

      thanks! Guess that DOES make sense! ;)

    • Jin

      Yeah, I don’t know about this one. I didn’t really like the twist because it seems like they just pulled it out of nowhere. I think it could have been written better. More subtly. Less, “Oh, look. She has a knife under her bed. She disappears from the scene mysteriously and lingers around creepily watching people sleep better watch out for this one and OH NO JUST KIDDING JANE IS ACTUALLY THE CRAZY ONE.” That all feels like a very cheap trick for getting the audience to be impressed that they couldn’t guess this one.

      I mean there were things that lead up to it. Points where I started to think that Jane is going way overboard but I was pretty positive that was me looking for more to the story than “Mother (/aunt) knows best and the kid is stupid.” A lot of the decisions the characters made didn’t seem to make sense either.

      I want to know what happened to Phil too! He was just totally tossed aside in the end! Like “hey, I need you.” from an officer and then he just stands there and watches and I-… what?

    • CJ

      I watched like two minutes of it and changed the channel then my mom asks me what happened and i’m throwing out a random guess and explained the exact plot that Emily was the other sister’s daughter and that Jane was the crazy one not Cassidy and then my mom watches it over and tells me I’m right so either I’m a psychic or that ending was super predictable. Even with the name ‘A sister’s nightmare’ it doesn’t say ‘Jane’s nightmare’ it says a sister’s nightmare and they are both sisters it was kind of clue that they’d just flip the crazy whats a worse nightmare having a crazy sister or having a crazy sister and being locked in a mental institution for something you didn’t do

    • Cbalducc

      If the part of the girl who played the daughter was expanded, the movie could have been called “Hydrophobic at 17″.

    • Pingback: Lifetime Movie Review: Sins Of The Preacher Tells A True Story()

    • Trevor

      Did you realize something? The doctor at the beginning of the movie (the one who tells Cassidy goodbye when she’s leaving the hospital) is the same one from the ending of “A Mother’s Nightmare”!

    • Pingback: Lifetime Movie Review Directory: A List Of The Best and Funniest()

    • Shandra

      I watched the last half hour or so and this little recap entertained me while explaining why I wouldn’t have been entertained by the rest of the movie. Thanks!

    • Pingback: Lifetime Movie Review: A Daughter's Nightmare, Emily Osment()

    • Emmy

      My only problem with this movie was they said she had borderline personality disorder which was sooo far off. I myself have been diagnosed with this and I have never murdered anyone or been in any kind of mental institution! Ever. So the producer and everyone else should have studied more about the subject before making us out to look like psychotic murderers and crap! So many people shouldn’t judge someone without getting the facts first. It suck to have a mental illness and be misunderstood! We’re not all total nut job’s!!!!

    • ja’mie


    • Pingback: Lifetime Movie A Wife's Nightmare Review: Wasn't Crazy Enough()