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Film / Party from Hell

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Molly, learning that Lifetime already had a movie called Psycho Party Planner and brainstorming ways to one-up it.

Party from Hell is a 2021 Lifetime Movie of the Week Thriller, directed by Jared Cohn and written by John Burd.

Denise Allen (April Martucci) heads up the tech firm behind Tutor, an app which connects tutors and students remotely. In the final stages of an app relaunch, Denise has entrusted her best friend/business partner/sister-in-law Ashley (Veronika Issa) to plan the launch party, which she hopes will impress her main investor, billionaire Peter Mason (Eric Roberts). Through a crazy coincidence she meets Molly Cole (Jackie Moore), a professional party planner, who offers to help with the party. Denise brings Molly onboard, unaware that Molly has some sinister plans for Denise and Ashley, plus Denise's husband Josh (Matt Pohlkamp) and daughter Grace (Nicolette Langley).

Party from Hell contains examples of:

  • And Starring: In the opening credits, "with Eric Roberts" (who only appears in three scenes).
  • Beauty Is Bad: Only on Lifetime would we have a maniacal revenge-driven Serial Killer who's also a stunning, buxom, leggy blonde.
  • Black Comedy: A few moments of this, most memorably Molly getting access to Ashley's phone by scanning the fingerprint from Ashley's cold dead hand.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Close, with light blonde Denise, dark blonde Molly and redhead Ashley (you perhaps might count Grace as the brunette).
  • Cold Ham: Jackie Moore's performance as Molly is a masterclass in how to pull off a Ham and Cheese performance without ever resorting to raising your voice or appearing overtly unhinged (apart from one brief screaming fit when she's alone), which makes Molly that much more unnerving.
  • Conversation Casualty: Molly kills Ashley during a consultation at Molly's office.
  • Darker and Edgier: Molly is more genuinely evil than the usual Lifetime villainess. It feels more like The Asylum than Lifetime, which makes sense because it's directed by Asylum vet Jared Cohn.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: Molly kills Rutledge College recruiter Anna Carr, then poses as her to interview Grace.
  • Death Glare: Molly's default expression for much of the movie.
  • Didn't Think This Through: After pulling her college recruiter trick on Grace, it strangely never occurred to Molly that Denise might invite her daughter to the launch party and she might get her cover blown.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: When Molly gets Josh drunk at the bar via double kamikazes, she quickly empties her glass on the floor to stay sober.
  • Fanservice: Molly, played by Jackie Moore, who's also a model, dials it way up for the bar scene (wearing a crop top and tight black pants) and the climax (wearing a sleeveless red dress with a huge Cleavage Window).
  • A Fête Worse than Death: Molly ultimately ruins the Tutor app relaunch party by placing Ashley's corpse there to be revealed at a crucial moment.
  • George Jetson Job Security: After Molly executes a Frame-Up to get them in trouble, Denise quickly fires her assistant Liam and takes away assignments from Ashley (who, remember, is her sister-in-law).
  • A Good Name for a Rock Band: Corey wears a denim jacket with the phrase "Boring People" inexplicably scrawled in one corner in marker, presumably meant to be some band that he's into.
  • Here We Go Again!: The last scene shows Molly successfully pulling off Villain: Exit, Stage Left and back in her office, for a consultation with the next target on her list.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Molly just has a creepy overall demeanor, complete with crazy eyes, but Denise trusts her almost to the very end, even as she ponders why her family has been torn apart and her sister-in-law has disappeared.
  • Horror Comedy: While the movie is technically a Thriller, Molly's antics are more in this territory, with all the wacky, and often deadly, schemes she executes.
  • Hotter and Sexier: In-universe, Denise uses the word "sexy" more than once to describe the redesign of the Tutor app, which, since it's an app to help students find tutors, is a questionable word choice (though her daughter Grace did meet her boyfriend Corey on the app).
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Averted, since Grace is obsessed with getting into an elite fictional college called Rutledge (whether it's an archrival to fellow fictional blue-blooded Lifetime college Whittendale isn't known).
  • Kill Tally: The photo of "the gang" that Molly uses to keep track of who she's already killed.
  • Lipstick Mark: Molly makes it look like Josh is having an affair by putting lipstick on his collar, spraying perfume around him, and leaving flirty texts on his phone.
  • Live-Action Cartoon: There's really not much of a plot in the movie beyond Molly terrorizing Denise and her loved ones with gambits taken straight from the Bugs Bunny playbook, like posing as completely different people (including a fake accent at one point) just to humiliate them. Indeed, Ashley likening Molly to a "Disney villain" is completely correct.
  • Mama Bear: As this is Lifetime, Denise gets to save her family at the climax.
  • Meaningful Name: Is it coincidence that "Denise" is one letter different from "dense"?
  • Motive Rant: At the climax Molly helpfully explains everything to a Bound and Gagged Grace, along with some Evil Gloating and a side of oddball roleplaying.
  • Played for Drama: Molly posing as one of her old clients on the phone to trick Denise using a Brief Accent Imitation is a prime example of a scene with a comical concept used in a completely straight way in a drama, to show what extremes Molly will go to to trap Denise (though Narm Charm still makes it funny).
  • Plot Allergy: Peter Mason has a peanut allergy. Molly then secretly changes the catering order that Ashley called in to include peanut oil, leading to the near-death of their top investor and Denise blaming it on Ashley.
  • Plot Hole: A whole bunch.
    • In the above example, since the company has been working with Peter for a while and he's chummy with them, how did Ashley not already know about the peanut allergy?
    • Denise has never been notified that four members of "the old gang" have been murdered.
    • After Anna Carr got killed, it seems like someone at Rutledge would have needed to reschedule all of her interview appointments, including Grace, which would have immediately revealed that the woman she talked to wasn't the real Anna Carr.
    • The murder of Ashley. Any decent detective questioning the Tutor employees would name Molly as the prime suspect after about ten seconds.
  • Rack Focus: A very clever variation on this in the bar scene. Josh and his coworkers are shown celebrating in the foreground, while the background is out of focus. But eventually the camera pans to a point where we can see a woman with long blonde hair in the background who's clearly Molly (she moves around a bit to draw our attention), but she's still out of focus, and there's never a rack focus in her direction to confirm that it's her. It's a nice subtle signal to the audience that Molly's at the bar and about to pull some kind of nasty business on Josh, without being heavy-handed about it.
  • Revenge: Early on we see a picture of six women on the wall in Molly's office, with four of them X'ed out with a marker and a younger Denise circled, signalling to us that Molly's getting revenge on a group of women of which Denise was a part. The Motive Rant explains it in detail: Molly apparently used to be named Tabitha ("Tabby") and was Denise's childhood BFF, but then Denise dumped her for a more fashionable crowd, and Molly's pride was wounded so much that she vowed to kill all the members of the clique, and she's already gotten to four of them.
  • Sacrificial Lamb: Amber (the bride at the wedding in the prologue) and Anna (the recruiter from Rutledge) both only appear onscreen for a few seconds, so Molly can murder them.
  • Sacrificial Lion: The suffocation of Ashley shows that Molly means business.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Corey has little to do besides be Grace's boyfriend.
  • Serial Killer: Molly already killed three women prior to the start of the movie, offs another one in the prologue, and kills two more over the course of the movie.
  • Sinister Suffocation: Molly's favorite killing method.
    • At the very beginning, Molly strangles Amber with one of the streamers at her wedding.
    • Ashley gets murdered by Molly placing a plastic bag over her head.
    • Molly also tries to get rid of Grace by strangling her with a shawl, but gets interrupted.
  • Sock Puppet: Molly gives Denise the phone number of her last client as a reference. Denise calls it, and it's answered by Molly, who puts on a hilariously phony posh British accent, yet Denise completely buys it.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Variation, with Grace being Corey's ex-tutor; they met on her mother's app.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Realizing that there's a good chance that Grace will recognize her at the party and squeal to Denise, Molly suddenly decides to murder Grace.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Turns out to be the case with Molly and Denise, but Denise doesn't learn it until the end.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Molly totally crushes 17-year-old Grace's dreams to go to Rutledge, then ties her up and gags her at the climax.