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Film / Vows of Deceit

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Poster for Vows of Deceit

Vows of Deceit is a Made-for-TV Movie Thriller that premiered on May 20, 2018 on the US channel Lifetime under the alternative title Deadly Matrimony (not to be confused with the 1992 TV movie starring Brian Dennehy).

The central character is Sara Ross, portrayed by Katherine Bailess. Everything seems to be going brilliantly when she marries the handsome and seemingly perfect Leo Friedman (Damon Dayoub). However, Sara grows suspicious when Leo starts to spend time away from home and shares her concerns with best friend Parker (Ali Cobrin).

Things get worse when Sara's credit card is declined, and she discovers Leo has fraudulently withdrawn money from her bank account. Sara then receives a disturbing visit from Melinda (Tiffany Hines), who reveals Leo is married to her under a different name and has financially ruined her too. Further investigation reveals Leo plans to marry a third woman named Cindy (Keeley Hazell).


Events take a deadly turn when yet another wife - Maisy - is brutally murdered. Fearful the thieving Leo is also a serial killer and they might be next, the wronged women band together to get revenge.

The movie was produced by The Ninth House, a US-based company headed by director Jake Helgren and producer Autumn Federici. The screenplay was co-written by Jake Helgren and Emily Nye. Marvista Entertainment handle distribution rights.

A two minute trailer (with spoiler content) can be viewed on the Marvista Entertainment website or alternatively C21 Media.


Vows of Deceit provides examples of:

  • Action Girl:
    • Subverted from a character perspective. Most females end up as hapless victims, borderline Faux Action Girl territory at best. Melinda comes across as the strongest, actually bringing a pistol to the climatic encounter with the psycho.
    • Played straight by the lead actresses however, who deserve a shout for mostly performing their own stunts in a more action-packed than usual TV movie.
    • Also stuntwoman Linda Kessler who doubles Ali Cobrin for the balcony fall scene. This clip usually features in stunt reels on her Youtube channel.
  • Anyone Can Die: A number of people bite the dust, including major characters.
  • Big Bad: Leo Friedman, who marries women purely to steal their money. Also a serial killer.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Averted. Melinda - the only notable black character - is not the first to die. She survives the whole movie.
  • Blatant Lies: Sara discovers a photograph that shows Leo and Maisy. When Sara confronts Leo about it, he answers - hesitantly - that the woman is his sister. Sara doesn't seem remotely convinced.
  • Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress: The opening scene features one. A female is seen deceased with her bloody arms outstretched on a wedding dress, left by her killer in an arranged pose.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: The police at the climax, who don't show up until after the resolution. Justified since the women decide to confront the killer themselves.
  • Con Man: Leo marries several women at once. Not because he loves them - he wants control over their finances.
  • Cool Mask: The killer wears a beekeeper-style mask - for some unexplained reason.
  • Cowardly Lion: At the climax, three women confront Leo, with a male friend (plus a priest if needed) for backup. Instead of overpowering Leo when he goes insane, the not-so-brave heroines choose to flee (and the male is left to fend for himself). This leads to a drawn-out fight sequence.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In a notably intense scene, the killer stalks Cindy and slits her throat.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Cindy puts up a struggle against the killer, but her efforts prove utterly futile and it's a very one-sided affair. This scene is cut from daytime TV showings in the UK.
  • Darkness Equals Death: The killer prefers to attack victims in dark rooms, and does so on two occasions.
  • Disney Villain Death: Parker, who takes a fatal tumble from a balcony railing on her wedding day.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: The women relocate to a remote forested area to plot their revenge. Not the best location to choose with a killer on the loose.
  • Fanservice: Something for any gender / sexual orientation.
    • Damon Dayoub is shirtless in his bed scene, his oily skin glistening in the dim light.
    • British actress Keeley Hazell is a former Fashion Model who has appeared in men's magazines Nuts and Zoo, and many times on the front cover of FHM. She also used to be a Page Three Stunna for the UK red-top tabloid The Sun before they stopped printing photos of half-naked women. The sequence where her character Cindy is killed includes a shot of her barefoot legs thrashing.
    • Tiffany Hines gets to do her best Sharon Stone impression in the motel room. Her character Melinda sits with her bare legs crossed, smoking cigarette in hand.
  • Foreshadowing: Police meet with Sara, Melinda and Cindy and show them a photo of the killer's handiwork: Maisy in a death-pose with a stab wound in her chest. Later on, Cindy suffers a similar fate on-screen.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Several details are almost impossible to spot at normal playback speed. For instance, the scene where the killer attacks Cindy and lifts her up in the air. Without slowing the footage down or advancing frame by frame, it's unlikely viewers will notice the restraint on the victim's left arm, or the killer cutting a strap which secures it to the shoulder hook. It's possible this is stunt apparatus to avoid injuries to the cast.
  • Genre Mashup: Suspense and thrills are to be expected, but this movie also manages to blend in:
    • Action - Check out the chaotic wedding climax with brutal and intense fights/struggles.
    • Horror - The stalking and murder scenes wouldn't look amiss in a slasher movie.
    • Throw in drama, romance, and some mystery and it's quite the cocktail. About the only thing left out is (unsurprisingly) comedy.
  • Genre Shift: The earlier sections of the movie revolve around Sara discovering the truth about Leo and doing amateur detective work - fairly standard TV movie stuff. After the killer ups the stakes by offing Maisy, the movie starts to veer into Slasher Movie territory (albeit briefly).
  • Heel–Face Turn: After Sara is attacked at the cabin, Parker reveals she and Leo are having an affair. Realising her husband-to-be is a complete psycho, she decides to assist the other women with their plan for revenge.
  • Improvised Weapon: The women use a wine bottle and candlestick holder during the climatic confrontation. An even more bizarre example follows. After his plan unravels, Leo pins Sara down and chokes her. She reaches desperately for her overturned handbag and the various cosmetics, and eventually grabs a charm bracelet (!!!) which she uses to choke him to death.
  • The Infiltration: To gain access to the climatic wedding ceremony without arousing his suspicion, Sara and Melinda disguise themselves as bridesmaids all in black, complete with veils to mask their faces.
  • Inspired by…: According to the Marvista website, the movie was "inspired by an unbelievable true story". This is a stock phrase used in Hollywood. While some details (such as a con artist marrying and stealing money from multiple women) may be based on actual events, the story as depicted is mostly fictional.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: Though not produced by Lifetime directly, the movie fits well with the 'woman in jeopardy' theme.
  • Market-Based Title: Renamed to Deadly Matrimony for the US Lifetime premiere. During production the working title was He Loved Them All.
  • The Mole: Parker is essentially an undercover operative at her own wedding. The bride-to-be works with Sara and Melinda after she's made aware of Leo's malicious intentions.
  • Multiple Identity IDs: The police inform Sara, Melinda and Cindy that Leo's real name is Randall Scott, and he's been married four times in the last five years. The detective backs this statement up with evidence showing a printout of several California driving licenses - all in different names with Leo's photo.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Prior to her confrontation with the killer at the log cabin, Sara grabs a fire poker. It turns out to be woefully insufficient, largely due to Sara's lack of training.
  • Never One Murder: The killer claims multiple victims over the course of the movie.
  • No-Tell Motel: Sara and Melinda meet in a run-down motel to discuss their strategy for revenge.
  • Oh, Crap!: Several occasions.
    • Sara's reaction when she realises all the money has been withdrawn from her account. And a similar look of disbelief when she checks his laptop computer and discovers a saved image of her signature.
    • Sara when she discovers a kitchen knife under the bed.
    • While undercover as bridesmaids at Parker's wedding, Sara and Melinda secretly meet up with her in an empty room. Suddenly there is a knock on the door. Sara and Melinda turn sharply round, fearful of discovery.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: While Sara lies in bed with Leo he produces a kitchen knife, which causes her to recoil in terror. Leo then asks Sara if she's scared, smiling as he runs a finger across the blade. Though it turns out this is All Just a Dream.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: After the women ruin Leo's wedding day, he drops the nice guy act and arms himself with a pistol.
  • Revenge: The primary reason for the brides getting together - Leo ruined their finances (or plans to), and now they want payback.
  • Scream Discretion Shot: When Sara discovers Cindy's body she shrieks in terror, hands cupped over her mouth.
  • Screaming Warrior: During the wedding showdown set-piece, Leo has Melinda pinned down in a scuffle. Sara races to the rescue, screaming in fury as she swings a knife at Leo's exposed back.
  • Shotgun Wedding: During the wedding finale, Leo is confronted by a determined-looking Melinda, cold eyed as she aims a pistol. This also takes Sara and Parker by surprise. For some reason, they didn't expect Melinda to come armed to a confrontation with a psycho who's killed multiple women by that point.
  • Villainous Breakdown: At the beginning of the movie Leo is calm and collected, and maintains his suaveness even when confronted by Sara. After his wedding to Parker is interrupted and his lies exposed, Leo goes completely off the rails and attempts to murder the women responsible.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Maisy has very little screen time before she's gruesomely killed off.
  • Wedding Smashers: The confrontation between the revenge-seeking brides and Leo at the wedding finale.
  • Wham Line: Sara is already suspicious of Leo when Melinda shows up at her front door to drop the proverbial bomb.
    Sara: How do you even know Leo?
    Melinda: I know him because I'm his wife.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Stab her, in this instance. The killer has a penchant for drawn-out and complex killings. This appears to be through choice rather than necessity. The unnecessary hesistation also allows Sara to escape alive.
  • Woman Scorned: All five women wronged by Leo. Sara and Melinda are particularly determined to get their revenge.
  • Zipping Up the Bodybag: The police wheel Cindy's zipped up body past a distraught Sara and Melinda.