“An arrow escape.”
Winner of the “Most misleading DVD cover of the year” award, the gap between expectation and reality has rarely been wider. It starts off promisingly enough, with young woman Kayla (Fairaway), carrying a bow and running away from a man in a car. She’s rescued by a passing motorist, but they are run off the road by their pursuer. There’s then a flashback, to explain how these events came about. Which would be fine, except for the flashback lasting close to an hour and a quarter of thoroughly mind-numbing chit-chat, before anyone even picks up a bow in anger. It’s not exactly the Hunger Games wannabe the sleeve is trying to suggest.
One of the alternative names, Deadly Spa, is far more accurate, even though it’s a title more likely to raise a smirk than a rush of adrenaline-charged excitement. Kayla is at the spa in question – ‘The Source’ with her mother, Dawn (Pietz), having convinced Mom she needs a break. At first, the place seems beyond perfect: all meditation rooms, power food breakfasts, toxin-cleansing saunas, and of course, no cell-phones allowed. Though Kayla has a yearning for a cheeseburger, which she guiltily admits to sympathetic (and hunky!) spa employee, Brett (Werkheiser).
Like most things in Lifetime TV movies which seem too good to be true, this is too good to be true. In particular, spa owner David James (Whitworth) has more in common with David Koresh than his customers should expect. He takes a shine to Dawn, and successfully pulls the wool over her eyes. Kayla is nowhere near so easily convinced, not least because she has seen David’s more psychotic side. When her mother finally sees the light as well, the two try to escape, planning to divulge David’s dirty little secrets to the authorities. If you’re well-read on cult leaders like Jim Jones, you’ll know that, to David, it makes them a problem. The solution initially involves tying Kayla up in an attic and inflicting low-rent brain-washing techniques on her. It doesn’t take. This is my unsurprised face.
Eventually – and, boy, do I mean “eventually” – this brings us back to where we came in. It takes so long, that I was beginning to feel I was the one held captive against my will, though unfortunately without any of that nice Stockholm syndrome kicking in. [And the sooner the PTSD kicks in and erases the whole movie from my memory, the better] First mom, and then the daughter, use their archery skills, miraculously picked up after little more than two arrows, to defend themselves. It’s just enough content – along with Mom’s miraculous and unannounced judoka talents, allowing her to flip one of David’s henchmen off a cliff – to allow this to qualify for the site. However, this review should be considered far more of a warning, than any kind of endorsement. I’m sure the place will be getting a one-star review on Yelp as well.
Dir: Marita Grabiak
Star: Amy Pietz, Tracey Fairaway, Johnny Whitworth, Devon Werkheiser
a.k.a. Zephyr Springs and Deadly Spa