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It started out as an average day for Rachel Rogers (Scottie Thompson) as she acts as a chaperone for a field trip her 10-year-old daughter Lindsey (McKinley Blehm) is taking with her class to the zoo. But during the excursion, Rachel loses track of Lindsey for a moment—and the next thing she knows, she's watching her being taken into a van and driven off. Rachel is unable to stop the abductor.
It's soon after that Rachel receives a phone call from a disguised voice, sending her to an earpiece and camera-equipped hat he placed for her, allowing him to see and hear all that she does. It's then that Rachel's kidnappers send her on a series of tasks—all while threatening to kill Lindsey if she doesn't do as he says. As it becomes clear these tasks are meant to humiliate Rachel and destroy her life, Rachel finds out who her daughter's abductor is her old boyfriend Carter (Lucas Kerr) who was sent to prison after Rachel testified against him when she witnessed him commit murder. Now at the mercy of a man who wants nothing more than to make her suffer, Rachel must find a way to outsmart her conniving ex and rescue Lindsey in a game where everyone she loves is but a pawn.
My Daughter's Ransom is the type of thriller that throws the viewer right into the action, and the movie is all the better for it. After establishing Rachel's life as being seemingly perfect, the film is quick to deliver the emotional punch of this life, not only being revealed as a mask for deeper troubles for the Rogers household, but also as something Carter is quick to use as a weapon against Rachel. The film shows us how close Rachel is to the people in her life, despite her troubled feelings regarding her marriage and it makes it all the more heartbreaking when Carter forces her to destroy those bonds with no explanation to the people she cares about.
(The film also employs methods of slow motion and GoPro-style footage to further convey the instability of the whole situation. Personally, the style is a bit distracting at times and sometimes not shot very well, but props to Lifetime for going for a unique aesthetic.)
The combined efforts of Scottie Thompson and Lucas Kerr also keep the tension packed, particularly Thompson's brutally sincere portrayal of a mother desperate to save the life of her daughter—even at the cost of having her life systematically ruined. Thompson keeps Rachel's fear palpable and authentic, while also allows her grow over the course of her essential captivity. A particularly heartfelt moment during the climax has Thompson at her absolute finest, and makes the audience cheer for her to finally turn the tables on her deranged ex-lover. Carter, on the other end of the character spectrum, is arguably one of the most ruthless villains in Lifetime's docket, and Lucas Kerr holds no punches in framing him as a completely cold-blooded and borderline sadistic man. As the film progresses and his actions become more depraved, you get the sense that there is quite literally nothing that would stop Carter from exacting his revenge on Rachel, and that he's willing to hurt anyone to do so, making him a thoroughly terrorizing villain that the audience will cheer to see be brought down.
McKinley Blehm also makes for a sympathetic character, using her facial expressions during her scenes of bound captivity to convey the fears of an innocent young girl pulled into a madman's scheme. Matthew Pohlkamp also shines as Rachel's level-headed husband Tony, as even when Carter's demands to Rachel start affecting their marriage and even his job, it never seems that Tony believes Rachel to be acting in her own state of mind, and he ultimately pulls through for his wife in her hour of need. Erik Fellows is in a similar situation as Tony and Rachel's friend and business partner Frank, sharing sincere chemistry with Pohlkamp and Thompson that makes his being pulled into Carter's "game" particularly poignant. Davida Williams and Pamela Roylance round out the cast as Frank's wife Gina and Tony's mother Diane, respectively, though their steadfast way of taking Rachel's random behavior at face value (particularly Gina's) is jarring in comparison to the reactions of Carter, Tony, and even a minor character Skates (played by Erika Fong).
Problematic elements aside, My Daughter's Ransom is a tense and fast-paced thriller sure to satisfy those looking for a hit of drama from the usually reliable Lifetime network. With strong characters and emotion adding a layer of depth to this action-packed film, this is one film that is sure to win over Lifetime viewers of all persuasions.
Score: 8 out of 10 knit cap cams.