Last night’s Lifetime movie A Daughter’s Nightmare wasn’t as entertaining as its predecessors A Mother’s Nightmare and A Sister’s Nightmare and a Second Cousin Twice Removed’s Nightmare (okay, I made that one up), but it kept my attention for the simple fact that I wanted to see how long it would take the characters to realize the movie’s huge creeper was just that — a huge creeper. It of course took pretty much the entire movie, which was simultaneously very amusing and extremely frustrating. But isn’t that what Lifetime is in general? Exactly.
We open the movie at a beloved father’s funeral. As we’ve established time and time again, dads don’t exist in the Lifetime universe, so this movie is right on track. Our young heroine Ariel is played by Emily Osment, star of honorary Lifetime movie Cyberbully. Hopefully she’s learned how to take the caps off pill bottles by now. Because Emily Osment is also a singer, and actors who are also singers are obligated to sing in their movies or else Zeus will strike them with a lightning bolt, Ariel breaks into song. But who’s that guy creeping over there in the cemetery? Could he possibly be our main creeper? We shall see. (Spoiler: He is.)
Soon Ariel has to leave her grieving mom Dana (Victoria Pratt) and her Uncle Cam (Richard Karn, aka Al from Home Improvement, aka ouch my ’90s hurts) and head off to college. It’s there that she meets Ben (Gregg Sulkin), a troubled young man doing his best impression of the kid next door from American Beauty, surreptitious photography included. Sorry, but filming and/or taking pictures of me when I’m not aware will never be romantic or sweet or adorable, no matter how many movies tell me it is.
Ben and his stepdad Adam (Paul Johansson) offer to drive Ariel home one weekend, and despite the fact that she just met them minutes ago and they both look like creepers, she accepts. But wait, isn’t Adam the same creeper who was creeping at the cemetery? Yes, yes he is. Ariel tells him all about her losing her father and how hard it’s been for her mother, who’s trying grief counseling. And what a coincidence, Adam also happens to have recently lost his wife, and look at that, he’s showing up to the same grief group as Dana.
Since Adam conveniently lives a few blocks away, he starts making a habit of visiting Dana and Ariel while walking his sickly dog (the sickly dog thing is important, I’m not just mentioning it to make you sad). Ariel seems a little weirded out by his constant presence, but not weirded out enough not to drink the coffee he brings over for her mom. The look on his face when she takes it and the fact that she feels sick afterward confirm that yes, he did put something in it, and yes, it was meant for Dana and not for her. You’ll soon discover that this family consumes each other’s food and drink more than is probably normal. Definitely more than is helpful to Adam, who is very focused on drugging Dana and only Dana. BUT WHY?!
Adam spends the rest of the movie throwing up red flags that Ariel and Dana either ignore completely or just narrow their eyes at momentarily and then ignore. For instance, Dana thinks it’s totally normal that she had just two glasses of wine during dinner with Adam and promptly passed out in the bathroom, only to be undressed and put to bed by him without remembering anything in the morning. Nope, nothing unusual about that.