Thursday, June 19, 2008

"Eight Days to Live"

I know, I know. The Phantom is starting to sound like a broken record. But it’s not my fault. Channel 7 insists on running movies that premiered on Lifetime back in 2006. They must have gotten a great deal on these flicks, so they’ve liberally spread them into the mix among the direct-to-DVD dreck. And every time out, I mention how the films are usually shot in Canada, feature Canadian actors, are released on DVD in other countries and let’s not forget the “over the top, zero-to-sixty, heightened escalation” factor. What else can I do? These are the unifying factors of all recent Lifetime “original” movies. As Yogi Berra would say, “It’s déjà vu all over again.”

One thing I’ve missed in previous posts: apparently these movies are also shown on CTV – Canadian TV out of Winnipeg, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. And tonight’s entry, “Eight Days to Live” had the distinction of garnering that network’s highest ratings up until that time. I don’t know if anything has surpassed it yet, but when originally aired on CTV, “Eight Days…” was seen by two million people.

The Phantom is willing to bet that’s substantially more than will be watching this Sunday night when WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York airs it on the Late Move.

There is one element in “Eight Days to Live” that shows up in a lot of these Lifetime movies that I haven’t previously mentioned: the family member doggedly pursuing answers to the mystery surrounding another missing and/or murdered family member. This of course is not relegated to just Lifetime movies. Such mainstream fare as “In the Bedroom,” Steven Soderbergh’s “The Limey” and others covered similar ground. Okay, maybe “mainstream” is not the word to use for any of those. “Theatrical releases” is a better word, as none of those films were designed to appeal to the masses (they found more success in the art-houses and theaters catering to independent movies).

In this one, a missing woman’s son disappears after veering off the road, and now she must find him to try to save his life.

It’s got the usual assortment of Canadian actors, most who have done both US and Canadian TV and spotty film work. Overall, based on the ensemble’s credits it’s one of the more well-casted Lifetime films. These all seem like competent actors. Among them are:

Kelly Rowan from “The O.C” heads the cast as the mother. She has many film and TV credits, and for this film, she also served as a producer. She was also an executive producer on another film she made for Lifetime and CTV, 2007’s “In God’s Country,” which has as its subject matter something rather timely at the moment: women trapped in polygamist communities.

Katherine Isabelle as a girlfriend of the son also has a lot of film and TV credits, including a recurring role (the main role) in the “Ginger Snaps” horror film series. The Phantom saw and thoroughly enjoyed the original “Snaps” – it was a refreshing reboot of werewolf movies for the new generation, complete with dark humor and meaningful subtext for its star and core audience.

Shawn Doyle continues the parade of actors with several gigs under his belt. Right now, he has a recurring role on the latest cable-TV “let’s make something out of the norm seem normal” show, “Big Love” (refer back to my comment above re: “In God’s Country”).

While his career is so far less extensive than those mentioned above, Ryan McDonell is a talent bubbling under, and has thrilled audiences as Lt. Gonzo Pike on the Sci-fi Channel’s revamp of “Battlestar Galactica.”

Ryan’s “Battlestar” co-star Ty Olssen (LSO Capt. Aaron Kelly) is also a journeyman with many credits, including a recurring role as Sam the Plow Guy on the short-lived Anne Heche series, “Men in Trees.”

Michael Eklund is a veteran of such Uwe Boll movies as “Black Woods,” the video game adaptation “House of the Dead,” and “Bloodrayne II: Deliverance.” If you haven’t heard of director Boll by now, that’s probably a blessing. He is just about universally reviled by most (see the site “Uwe Boll Must Be Stopped”) although he does have that rare supporter. If you’re intrigued to learn more, click here or here.

Last but not least, there’s Gwyneth Walsh, who played Patricia DaVinci, a coroner and ex-wife of Dominic DaVinci, also a coroner and titular star of the exceptional Canadian police procedural drama, “DaVinci’s Inquest.” By the way, “Inquest” is often run on American TV in the wee hours, and is a much better option than the Late Movie, provided you’re looking for quality and not kitsch.

I don’t have a trailer for this one, but you can view a clip here (NOTE: disregard the date scrolling across the bottom of the frame – that date was the original TV airdate):

Eight Days to Live

Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 11:35 PM... if you dare!

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