Ah, another week another ridiculous Lifetime movie. Now I don’t watch anything on Lifetime to know that this movie even existed, but I was flipping through Entertainment Weekly and this was a featured item on their TV guide. All I read was the title and I knew I had to report on it.
I went in not really knowing anything, but this description per the TV info: “Deeply in love, a young man and woman plan to run away from their polygamous community and its leader.”
Yeah, because that gave me more information than I had before. Anyways, the only name I recognize is Mary McCormack, who played Kate Harper on the later seasons of The West Wing, and is making her polygamy debut as the mom, Leann. The rest are relative unknowns, which I suppose is good, because I always get distracted with that kind of thing, especially in movies such as this (see: Sharknado Live Blog & the dad from Home Alone).
Alright, polygamy. Let’s do this.
Meeting the family
Mary McCormack/Kate and her daughter Julina get picked up on the side of the road by an old guy in a truck – on purpose. He’s MM’s new husband, to which Julina responds, “He’s old.” MM says, “He’s my salvation. The Prophet doesn’t make mistakes.”
Okay, so this is supposed to be like Warren Jeffs, then? Got it.
Warren Jeffs 101
Founder of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church)
Called the ‘President and Prophet’ of the ‘church’. He was the one who assigned the (polygamist) marriages within the community, no matter how old or if they were related
It was reported that Jeffs himself had 70 wives
In 2006, he was placed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List for fleeing Utah to avoid getting arrested from charges stemming from his alleged arrangement of illegal marriages between the adult males & underage girls in the community.
He was arrested last that year and in 2007, he was charged with 8 more counts, including sexual conduct with minors and incest. He was eventually convicted of 2 counts of rape as an accomplice and sentenced to 10 years to life. But apparently there were incorrect jury instructions so the conviction was overturned.
Buttttt, he was sent to Texas, where he was found guilty of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of children in a FLDS owned West Texas ranch in 2009. He was sentence to life plus 20 years in prison.
Speaking of The Prophet, we are introduced to him when a whole gang of kids run down a dirt road following another pickup truck (vehicle of choice in the town of Hillcrest?) and they’re all yelling, “Daddy! Daddy!” That’s not creepy at all. What Is creepy is when he introduces himself to Julina and it’s as if he’s eyeing her to be his own wife.
MM officially ties the knot with her old guy husband, in a creepy way which involves dresses that look like Lane Kim’s from Gilmore Girls before Lorelai altered it. What’s even worse is that the guy’s latest wife, so his third, is the one that “gives away” the new wife. Polygamy, y’all.
Julina meets Ryder
Per my research, this movie was actually supposed to be titled Ryder and Julina, but because it’s on Lifetime, it has to be called something that’s juuuust scandalous enough to garner your attention. So Ju goes climbing on this big ass mountain and finds Ryder sitting pensively with his shirt all unbuttoned – a big no no in the community. Obviously. Sparks are flying everywhere and at her mother’s ‘wedding’ the two dance all romantic and kiss in the wedding barn.
I’m starting to think that this is a play on Romeo and Juliet except without you know, all the polygamy. Besides the obvious R(omeo/yder) + J(uliet/ulina) similarity, there was a window involved, frequent flirty glances at each other, etc. etc. Not related to R+J, but they are communicating by cell phone. Like a flip phone with T9. What year is it??? And are they allowed to have cell phones??
After an awkward inappropriate hair touching scene in a church service, we find out that Ryder is The Prophet’s son. Ah, star-crossed lovers if you will. To make matters worse, The Proph tells his Ryder that God told him he’s the next in line to be The Proph but he clearly doesn’t like this news…
In a really unsurprisingly turn of events, creepy Proph tells Ju that God has sent her to Hillcreek for a reason – to be his next wife. FYI she’s like 16.
Obvs, Ju starts to freak out and goes to Ryder for help, but his efforts seem wasted. He goes to confront his dad about this new revelation, and The Proph doesn’t back down (and even slaps his son), telling him that he and Julina are moving down to Mexico to start a new community. Mexico? Really? Because starting a polygamist community in Mexico is exactly what the country needs right now.
Both The Proph and MM are soooo gung ho about this new venture, so much so that Ju’s supposed to get married in ONE WEEK. Listen, you can take all the 200+ family members in this family and still wouldn’t be able to pull that off. I guess under these standards, all you need is a nasty wedding dress and a barn. Are barns like symbolic of something in the polygamist world or something?
Anyways, to try to stop the marriage, Ryder proposes to Ju and she says yes. They then seem to have their ‘wedding’ later that night in the same barn, but pretty sure it’s not legal since there is no officiant and no witnesses. Then they have sex and a bed suddenly appears. Taking a page right out of The Notebook, folks (if that empty house was a barn).
One of Ju’s sisters, Esther, creeps on them in the barn, saying ‘it’s a sin!’ before running away like a little bitch. Loose lips sink ships, Esther.
And a Baby Makes Three (or 20)
Shit’s going down now. The next day, Esther runs to Ju, and while she’s trying to convince her not to tell anyone about her and Ryder, there’s a cut to Esther’s feet and water coming down it. Um, yeah. she’s pregnant (note, Esther is also 16 years old-ish). She says, “The Prophet’s blessed us both now. Once he sees this baby, maybe he’ll take me for his next wife. Don’t tell him I want it to be a surprise.”
what the what??
Esther is legit hemorrhaging because of this baby, and The Proph comes in, says they can’t take her to the hospital. Basically, he’s all save the baby, idec about Esther. Hey how about we address the fact that you committed statutory rape?? Unfortunately his wish came true and Esther dies while her baby girl has to live in this messed up family.
The Proph takes Ryder on a long ass road trip to the middle of no where and leaves him there because he finds out about Ryder and Ju (thanks, Esther). The Proph tells him that ‘Julina must give birth to a prophet a prophet he’ll never be.’ Yeah, okay that sounds like a great idea.
The Proph drives off to conduct the memorial service for Esther, and has the balls to blame it on someone else. “Help us learn our lesson from this immoral girl and the wicked boy who seduced her into sin.” Aka me. I seduced her into sin. He’s an asshole, basically.
Ju is NOT happy about that and ran the eff out of there. When confronted by The Proph, he tries to kiss her and she pushes him off and runs to her house to pack her bags and leave for good. Except some large men say she attacked The Proph and drag her away to The Proph’s house and won’t let her leave.
Meanwhile Ryder is still on his Moses walk through the deserts of Utah, and somehow finds himself in Las Vegas. They filmed this scene as if he’s on an acid trip or something, because honestly it would probably be like that if you went from polygamy country to Sin City.
Earlier in the movie, Ryder shows off this postcard of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign from his friend Micah. So he finds the sign that’s in a “sketchy neighborhood” (in reality it’s on a meridian at the end of The Strip and not sketchy at all), and starts knocking on doors until he finds Micah. Because this is the movies, it’s the third door he knocks on. And also because it’s the movies, this guy is a third rate version of Emile Hirsch and Shane West put together.
Micah had a similar situation in that he didn’t run away from the community, but The Proph got a couple of guys to beat him up and drop him off in the middle of nowhere, and that’s how he got to Las Vegas. Also, Micah might be gay, which I’m assuming is also a big no no in their community. Ok he actually might be a male prostitute after he ‘jokingly’ came on to Ryder and took a line of coke. Not that doing coke and being gay is mutually exclusive.
The Escape (from Polygamy)
Micah agrees to help Ryder by going back to Hillcreek and save Ju from marrying The Proph, despite an outcry from some guy who says he runs an organization for ‘lost boys.’ They head back and Micah is the one who’s gonna sneak in and get Ju. He creeps in and doesn’t see her in her room, because she’s in the corner with her wedding dress bawling her eyes out.
MM wants to say goodbye to Ju before The Proph marries her and takes her to Mexico, and after a few stern ‘No’ from him, he finally agrees…
Which is good timing because Ju just ripped a piece of her wedding dress off to hang herself with. MM walks in and sees her lifeless body, and they take her body out and put it in the back of a pickup truck.
Micah sees this, but some of the guys catch him lurking and run after him. They catch him and bring him back to talk to The Proph, who tells his thugs to send him to “the canyon” which is obviously the place where people go to die. Micah escapes yet again but this time he is stopped by old man – the guy Ju’s mom is married to, whose first wife is Micah’s mom. make sense?
Ryder, who knows nothing about Ju yet, hears someone coming to the barn and it’s The Proph who attacks him with a metal bar, telling him it was his fault he didn’t stay away from Ju when he said to and now she’s dead. Just as he’s about to hit him and kill him for good, Ju comes running in – because PLOT TWIST her mom made her fake her death so she could leave the community – and The Proph is all “I thought you were dead” and she was all, “Well Jesus isn’t the only one who can rise from the dead!” (<- not verbatim) She’s about to hit him when old guy shoots him with a gun and Ryder miraculously wakes up. SHAKESPEARE.
With The Proph dead, old guy turns into the next Prophet, but he decides to make the community all wholesome again, and only do the polygamy thing. Micah is apparently accepted back into family, essentially giving up his dreams and day job of being a gay prostitute? TBH, I’d rather be a gay prostitute.
MM willingly takes Ju and Ryder to meet the lost boys guy to meet in the middle of the desert so they can live a life together in peace.
“This whole thing’s crazy.” um yes, it is.
“t’s a sin…” “So let me sin again.” Shakespeare? Is that you? I used to watch Romeo + Juliet at least once a week when I was in sixth grade, don’t even play.
The music in this movie is akin to the stuff you would hear in a coffee shop in a small town or like Providence, Rhode Island near all the Brown students. Or if you turned on the Coffee House station on Sirius XM. Or if you put together all the Best Of songs from Zach Braff’s movies.