THE STRANGER SHE BROUGHT HOME: DTMWaGL #38
I think Lifetime has found out about me oh no
Hello friends! Been a minute. I have brought you a truly strange movie, maybe the weirdest thing I’ve watched since Deadly Spa. I have brought you a Lifetime movie whose protagonist is a bad and weird person with a real job, instead of a spunky yet vulnerable pet blogger. I have brought you a Lifetime movie that seems like it has a grudge against me personally, as this bad and weird protagonist is named Amelia, and there’s someone out to murder redheads. I have brought you THE STRANGER SHE BROUGHT HOME, and like the movie’s Amelia I did not know what I was getting myself into. (Content warnings for sexual harassment, gaslighting, murder, a staged suicide, and a car crash.)
We meet Amelia (from the movie, not me, you’ve met me) at her job as a 911 dispatcher in Atlanta. She takes a call from a woman whose daughter isn’t breathing and talks her through performing CPR, and then gets very annoyed when the mom hangs up when the EMTs arrive. Of course she did, Amelia. Your work is done. She’s still put out when she’s writing in her journal in the break room, and doubly put out when a sleazy dude named Trent oozes into her personal space and informs her that tonight is his third date with Amelia’s roommate Stephanie. He asks Amelia if there’s anything that might put Steph in the mood, and Amelia replies that keeping to her own space, doing her own dishes, and being quietly in bed by 10 usually puts her roommate in the mood. No, she doesn’t, she says that she’s in the break room because she wants to not have people talking in her ear, and Trent is like, “well, you should be nice to me, because I’m your boss.” So that’s all the conflict there.
After her shift, Amelia goes to a nearby hospital and shuffles through a stack of ID cards in her glovebox before grabbing one and heading inside. She’s here to check on Sammie, the girl from her call, and she’s willing to lie to the nurses outside (“she’s my niece”) and the girl’s mom (“I’m a social worker, here’s my ID”) to do it. It is extremely weird! Especially considering that Sammie and her mom are Black, and Amelia is white and informing them that she’s a social worker “just checking” on this minor who was admitted to the hospital! And also because when Amelia has a moment alone with a sleeping Sammie, she flips through this teenager’s diary (which came with her to the hospital because ???) and then rips off the cover and puts it in her own pocket. Amelia!! What are you doing!! Do you not know you’re the star of a Lifetime movie and should be roughly as complex as a Red Delicious apple? You’re giving me Koru apple. It is throwing me for a loop. Amelia, her curiosity satisfied, leaves the hospital and heads home.
When Amelia arrives at her gigantic, beautiful manor home, she finds her roommate and her boss fucking in what can only be described as “the parlor.” This is a clear violation of house rules. These people are defiling each other right in front of the urns containing Amelia’s dead parents. Declining Trent’s invitation to join them, Amelia goes to her bedroom, which has a fireplace in it just like my bedroom and yours, and adds the cover of Sammie’s diary to a collection of similar items that she keeps in her closet. There are dozens of them! Amelia! This is very weird, Amelia! Do you do this every day, Amelia? Please take up a hobby that is not this.
Back at work, Amelia takes a call from a panicked man who just hit a person who darted in front of his car. As Trent rubs her shoulders like she’s Angela Merkel, Amelia waits for the EMTs to arrive to treat the unconscious pedestrian, and then, of course, gets super annoyed when the caller hangs up on her. And what does Amelia do when she needs closure? She goes to the hospital, of course. She finds the victim in the ICU and just waltzes right in to gaze at this man in a coma. A nurse tells her that unless she’s family, she has to leave, and she’s not family, because they don’t even have a name for the guy, who had no ID on him. Amelia fumbles around behind her back and switches a ring from her right hand to her left hand, and presto: “He’s my fiance,” Amelia explains. His “name” “is” “Daniel Jones,” and she got “so worried” when he “didn’t come home” last night that she started calling hospitals. Also, he just “moved across the country” to “be with her,” so that’s why there’s no family or friends with her, that’s why, yes it is. The nurse, Janet, tells her that Daniel is real fucked up. He’s got bleeding on the brain and there’s no telling when or if he’ll wake up, but it might help if he hears a familiar voice. So Amelia takes Daniel’s hand and starts talking, telling him elaborate stories of the first day they met, and their first real date, and on through a montage that stretches over a few days, until he’s stable enough to be moved to a private room.
Amelia drags herself away from her true coma love to go to work, where a coworker named Michael (which is, for the record, my brother’s name because this movie was made For Me), awkwardly tells her she’s so great at her job, maybe they could get coffee sometime so he could pick her brain? Nope! says Amelia. No time! Coma love waits for no man!
Amelia returns to the hospital, where Nurse Janet hands her the bag of Daniel’s personal belongings that had been misplaced. No wallet, no ID, just clothes. When she gets to Daniel’s new private room, she smooches him on the forehead, and just like that, he wakes up! Explain that, science. A doctor tells Daniel he’s been unconscious for a few days, does he remember his name? In a real lucky break for Amelia, he does not. Amelia hastily informs him that his name is Daniel Jones and she’s his fiancee, and he doesn’t remember any of that. They ask the doctor how long it might be until Daniel recovers his memory, and the doctor is like “lol who knows but we’re gonna dump you out of the hospital after a couple days because this is America.” “USA! USA! USA!” Amelia replies.
To prepare for “Daniel’s” “return” “home”, Amelia sticks an eviction notice on her roommate/coworker Stephanie’s bedroom door. Stephanie storms into the living room (not the parlor, that’s a different room) and declares that she’s tired of living in this dump anyway. Stephanie is standing in front of a vast built-in bookcase stuffed with leather-bound volumes when she says this. Amelia wants her out tomorrow, and suggests that she go stay with that dick Trent, that’ll make everyone happy. Then she gets back to her real work: forging a birth certificate for Daniel. Looks great, graphic design is her passion.
Good news: Daniel gets to leave the hospital tomorrow! A detective wanders into the hospital to ask Daniel if he remembers anything about the car crash, which he does not. The detective informs him that the driver was turning into a busy parking lot when Daniel ran out in front of him, and that seems good enough for everyone, and the detective leaves. Good work. Daniel tells Amelia that he sort of remembers flashes of things, like an older woman in a nightgown. Which, hey, where’s my mom? he asks. Oh, uh, she died. Of cancer? A few years ago? And Daniel doesn’t have any other family, and he just moved across the country for a fresh start. Also, his phone was stolen, so Amelia couldn’t contact any of his friends. If he even has friends. So that’s all the loose ends there. But don’t worry, everything will be perfect when Daniel comes home.
Now that Stephanie’s out of the house, Amelia can nest to her heart’s content. She apologizes to a photo of her parents (did Amelia kill her parents? unclear) before redoing their room in a very Pinterest manner. Then she rummages through Daniel’s bag of stuff he came to the hospital with, and pulls a black and white photo of a very severe-looking older woman out of his coat pocket. This photograph is out for revenge. She sticks the photo in a box in her closet of stuff she’s taken from 911 callers, because remember: Amelia is an absolute weirdo.
In the break room at the call center, Amelia half-watches a news report about a string of murdered redheaded women in the Atlanta area. The #redheadmurders are the talk of the town, and like, again, what the fuck, why is this movie coming for my throat like this? What did I do to it? Amelia and her gross boss Trent have an argument about why Stephanie showed up at his doorstep with all her stuff, and he threatens to mess Amelia’s life up. Amelia immediately calls her previously unmentioned friend Val, who works elsewhere in the police department, to ask what happened when Val filed a harassment complaint. Val is Amelia’s cool tattooed best friend. I have one of those too! Val advises Amelia that she should watch her back if she files a complaint against Trent. Yeah that’s the thing, Val. I’m glad my cool tattooed best friend is more on the ball than this one is.
It’s finally time for Amelia to bring the stranger home. Daniel is wowed by the gigantic manse Amelia occupies, and she explains that was built in 1873 and has been in her family for 7 generations. 1873, what an interesting time to build a big house in Atlanta! Daniel doesn’t remember any of this, nor that he “liked” to “read” old books in the library, but he thinks he might be able to remember something if he saw some pictures? No, no pictures, no social media, says Amelia. They’re very private people. What she should have done was pretend that they were Amish. That would answer a lot of questions. Amelia presents Daniel with a gift: a lovely wooden cane he can use while he recovers. He loves this beautiful cane so much they almost smooch about it (they haven’t smooched!!) but then they’re interrupted by a knock at the door. It’s Amelia’s coworker Michael, who has wandered to her estate to tell her he’ll totally back her up if she files a complaint against Trent, even though he didn’t back her up in person when he literally witnessed Trent threatening Amelia. But next time for sure! Amelia’s like, “ok cool thanks, also how did you get my address, whatever, I’ve gotta get back to the stranger I brought home, byeeeee.”
After Amelia makes dinner, she and Daniel sit on the floor in the parlor even though they have so much furniture, and she tells him about how her parents died in a car crash (that…she orchestrated? No, but….maybe? but no) when she was 17. After they died, she found a diamond ring they’d gotten her for her 18th birthday. “And that’s what I proposed to you with?” asks Daniel, perhaps finding this as creepy and weird as I do. Well, it’s the ring Amelia happened to be wearing on her right hand when she first claimed this strange man was her fiance, so, yes. In a way. Daniel tries to tell Amelia about a memory he kind of has, where he’s running from a dark figure in an alley, but she tells him that sounds like a nightmare, and to not think about it. Daniel objects that actually, he should think about it because he doesn’t remember anything, like: does he have a job? And like: does he? Maybe he can learn to code, I hear that’s what people do. But here’s what Daniel does know: that he loves Amelia. So they bone down, good for them.
In the morning, after the boning, Amelia fills Daniel in on the situation with Trent, and he insists she file a complaint. It’s the right thing to do! So Amelia goes down to the station but whoopsy doodle, Trent beat her to it, insisting that actually Amelia has been harassing him, with her big house and her cool name and her stranger-home-bringing. Both of them will be placed on leave until the situation is sorted out. On their way out, Trent confronts Amelia in a stairwell and she knees him in the junk, and she’s right to do so. Steph later finds Trent there because he’s a little baby boy who’s moping in the stairwell, and he whines about how Amelia is trying to take them down. I don’t think she is. I think they’re both just garbage people who could simply leave this very strange woman alone. Steph says they can fight dirty too, and slaps Trent right in the face, and then does it again, and then they make out in the stairwell. Disgusting, awful people.
When Amelia gets home, the officer who took her complaint against Trent calls her and informs her Trent came back in with bruises and scratches that he’s blaming on her, and he filed a restraining order against her. Okay! Fine! Stay away from each other, that seems great! Amelia tells Daniel that no one is going to believe her, and she’s going to lose her job. The only person who is going to stand by her at work is that Michael guy, and frankly he seems like a creep, so who even knows. Cut to: Michael swearing to the investigating officer that Trent has always been the aggressor, he sucks, Amelia is a perfect angel of sweetness and light. See!
Over at Trent’s, he’s settling in for the night, turning on The Sports (according to this movie’s version of ESPN, the Yankees traded Rickey Henderson to the Red Sox in 2021, yes I swear this happened) and eating a Big Bowl of Popcorn, when he’s set upon by a person wearing the impenetrable Lifetime movie disguise of a black hoodie with the hood pulled up. What is this neighborhood coming to, when a man can’t sit in his own home with a big bowl of popcorn after a long day of harassing one’s underlings and getting beaten up by one’s girlfriend and then blaming it on said underlings without getting murdered? When Steph shows up in the morning, she finds Trent’s body hanging from the rafters.
Now it’s raining, and Daniel has two thoughts: 1. a romantic walk in the rain, and 2. Trent’s death is really a reminder of how fragile life is. These are both bad thoughts. The damp romantic walk is cut short when two detectives drop by to ask Amelia about Trent. They think it’s suicide, but Stephanie thinks it was her weird coworker who has a closet full of trinkets she’s stolen from ER patients. Amelia’s like, “it would be pretty stupid of me to murder my coworker literally the day that he filed for a restraining order against me,” and the detectives are like, “lol good enough for us,” and leave. They investigated this case for ninety whole seconds and they are exhausted. For her part, Steph shows up at Amelia’s house that night looking absolutely bananas. She knows Amelia had something to do with this! Amelia patiently explains that she did not kill Trent, a dude who sucked. She could have and it would have been fine, but she didn’t.
In the morning, Amelia shows up at the 911 call center, figuring that if Trent is dead, she doesn’t have to worry about the complaint anymore. Her coworker Michael spots her in the elevator and tells her how great it is Trent is dead. Boy, Amelia must be over the moon about it! She should be grateful to the person who killed him, if someone did kill him, ha ha ha, you know, unless he killed himself. Ha ha! And if someone would just kill Stephanie she’d be on easy street! Ha ha ha! Whew, we have fun here at 911. Amelia decides that this is too weird even for her, and leaves.
From her car, Amelia calls Daniel and leaves him a message (I guess Daniel has a new phone? because his “was stolen” and that’s why he doesn’t have any friends? whoops I thought about this movie longer than the people who wrote it) that she’s going to warn Stephanie about Michael and then come home. Stephanie is still at Trent’s house, and she lets Amelia in and hears her out before telling her that obviously Michael didn’t kill Trent. Obviously Amelia killed Trent and is just accusing a random person. Obviously. Steph kicks Amelia out and then is immediately attacked off-screen, like while Amelia is still on the porch. Amelia goes back inside to investigate and is herself whacked on the head with a vase by the person in a dark hoodie. You know what, I’m not sure they should even make black hoodies.
When Amelia comes to, she’s tied to a chair. She blearily sees her attacker snip a lock of now-dead Stephanie’s auburn hair and lovingly secure it in a tiny baggie, and then he turns around, and oh my goodness you’ll never guess, it’s Daniel! “I’m not here to hurt you, my heart,” Daniel says. What a sweetie! He thought Amelia would be grateful that he killed Trent and Stephanie. I’d just like to point out that on the scale of shitty harassing bosses, you can get a lot worse than what Trent was doing, and I’m not sure at what point you should consider murder a viable option, but this, to an impartial outside observer (me), falls pretty well short of that? They could have made Trent a lot worse! They should have! But, okay. If Amelia can’t be cool about this, Daniel is just going to have to make this into a murder (Stephanie) suicide (Amelia). He also planted some things around to make it look like Amelia killed Trent. Boy, he’s thought of everything, what a good boyfriend!
Since this version of Daniel seems pretty on the ball, Amelia asks him how long he’s known his real name, and it turns out: the whole time. He just thought this would be a really good opportunity for a new life, and honestly this is Amelia’s own fault for bringing him home like one of the souvenirs he found in her closet. When he found those, he knew they could be a good team, and he doesn’t want to kill people. It just keeps being the best way to solve his problems. At no point does Amelia ask Daniel’s real name, by the way. Wouldn’t you ask? The Amelia writing this would. “Daniel” knows this is a lot to take in, but he needs Amelia to make up her mind, and he smiles hopefully at her. She agrees to be on his side, since she can’t imagine her life without him. Daniel kisses her, unties her, and then immediately turns his back on her long enough for her to grab a fireplace poker. All the bedrooms in this movie have fireplaces in them. I wouldn’t think they would need those in Atlanta, but maybe they need to burn a lot of personal documents? Daniel is so disappointed when he turns around and sees his heart brandishing an iron poker at him, and he walks down the stairs and out the front door. Amelia, still holding the poker, sprints out the door and straight into a mailman, who’s like, “?????” Amelia drives off and the mailman peeks into the house, yelling “hello?” Oh, mailman, no! Do not involve yourself! Continue delivering mail!
Some?? time later, it’s dark, whatever, Amelia returns to her house to retrieve the picture she found in Daniel’s shirt. (There are cops staking it out, but she evades them by ducking slightly as she walks near a window. Really good work.) In the morning, she startles her tattooed friend Val in her car and asks her to run the photo through a facial recognition database. “Well, there’s a lot of dubious moral implications to depending on a system like Clearview AI, which pulls billions of people into their database without their consent,” replies Val, haha just kidding, she’s a cop, she’s just worried about getting in trouble for doing Amelia a favor. She reluctantly agrees to do it, and also to get Amelia a copy of the police report on Daniel’s accident.
Meanwhile, Daniel is hanging out in a ramshackle house, somewhere. It’s a wreck. He’s there. Did he walk? Take a bus? Unclear.
Val has found the woman in the photo, of course. She tells Amelia that her name is Maria Danvers, and she was strangled by her rich boyfriend while her six-year-old son watched. And yes, her son is Daniel, really Henry Danvers. And yes, Maria Danvers had red hair. Also, she has learned from the police report that there was a witness to Daniel’s accident, a woman named Whitney.
While Amelia pulls up Whitney’s social media to find a profile picture that says “southern redheads rule!” (disagree, but support all my redhaired sisters), Henry breathes heavily and sniffs his collection of locks of red hair. Then he sneaks into Whitney’s house to watch her do her pretty red hair and put a kettle on, but joke’s on him, Whitney sees him in the reflection of the kettle. And when Henry lunges for her, Whitney pulls a fucking gun out of her fucking purse and fucking shoots him and I’m sorry to curse so much but this was the most unexpected thing to happen in a Lifetime movie since, I don’t know, they acted like a men’s history professor was a real thing? This woman we just met shot the stranger Amelia brought home! Who does she think she is! Henry grabs his side and runs off.
Amelia has tracked down Whitney as well, but when she pulls up to her house, there are a bunch of cops waiting for her. They pull her out of the car and frisk her while she yells that ACTUALLY she knows who killed Stephanie and Trent, so LAY OFF. The detectives agree to let her talk to Whitney, who is still just wearing a robe. That is queen shit. Whitney tells them about the accident: she was out with her then-boyfriend and this guy kept staring at her. When he followed them out of the bar, her boyfriend tried to fight the guy, who ran off and right into the path of a car. She recognized the man who followed her as the man who sneaked into her house. So yeah, I guess the shooting makes a little more sense now. Whitney didn’t tell the police the whole story because they didn’t want to get blamed for Henry getting hurt, but she saw how Henry looked at her and she wanted to be ready if he came for her. And she was! “And you were,” says a detective. Yeah, I got it. Then another cop comes in and informs them that a patrol car spotted Henry, and then Henry jumped off a bridge 100 feet above a river. There’s no way he could have survived that! Or could he?
Haha just kidding of course he could, with no explanation offered. Henry is lurking in Amelia’s house, and he really needs her help with that bullet wound he’s got. Seems totally unscathed from falling into a river from 100 feet up though? Amelia doesn’t really want to help him. He said that he killed Stephanie and Trent for her, but that isn’t really true, is it? Yes, Amelia, that’s the problem here. The impurity of Henry’s motives. Henry pleads with Amelia, all he could think about when he was in that river was her! That’s the oldest line in the book, Amelia! Don’t fall for it! Amelia tells Henry that she knows who he is, and she can’t imagine how awful it was to see his mother murdered. Oh, no that was great actually! Henry hated his mother, who blamed him for every bad thing that ever happened to her, and he kills women because he never wanted one to have that kind of power over him again. Amelia stealthily digs around in a basket of crafting supplies and comes up with a pair of scissors while Henry informs her that he’s Daniel now! He got a second chance, and he really does love the beautiful cane she got him! “You love me, don’t you?” he asks. “I love you,” Amelia replies, and they kiss, and then she stabs him in the gut with the scissors and runs out the front door. He follows her and tries to strangle her but he’s just been through an awful lot and he can’t hack it. Amelia dials 911 and passes out.
When Amelia wakes up in the hospital, Michael is there waiting for her in a nice blue sweater. You remember Michael, the guy she turned down, the one who said it was really cool that those people got murdered? Yeah, he’s here. He was the 911 operator who took her call last night, so he kind of saved her life. “Guess I owe you one,” says Amelia, and takes his hand, and then the movie is over! Amelia gets to live on stealing trinkets from badly wounded and sick people, and she gets a simp of a boyfriend who seems willing to kill for her. Brava, Amelia! Brava.