Terror in the Family.

Chadd, Carla and Kelly Lynn are here for a Lifetime Movie that I first watched when I was in high school and Hilary Swank wasn’t really famous yet. In this movie she stars as a teenager with a rage problem who acts like a shithead all the time. Photos by Carla.

The IMDB page.

It opens with a family screaming and then Hilary Swank running into a room with a giant butcher knife. Dramatic. Now we cut to the past so we can see what brought us here.


A kid is playing piano in a scout uniform while Hilary Swank puts on eyeliner quickly in a full length mirror. Joanna Kerns is the mom and the dad from The Wonder Years is the dad. He wishes he could stop “writing software” and focus on this full time- “this” refers to making salad bowls out of wood, of course.


He just admires the bowls some more.

Mom brings spaghetti up to Hilary Swank’s room which is something my dad would never have done in a zillion years. She’s all “room service” which is nuts. Hilary Swank is going out though so she doesn’t have time for this spaghetti. Mom is all “wait, you just got home” but just lets her leave anyway because this mom has no control over her 15 year old daughter. When she’s getting ready in a flannel shirt and jeans Chadd says this outfit is what it takes to make him find Hilary Swank attractive because she’s so 90s grunge. Her boyfriend waits for her in the dark outside.


Hilary Swank goes to a shitty band practice and plays hilarious tambourine. It’s with her bad boy boyfriend and it’s amazing.


Mom asks little brother about Hilary Swank’s boyfriend and he lies and says he’s in the honor society. Mom is all “why doesn’t he ever come to the door?” Little Brother- “mom, it’s the 90s, boys don’t do that anymore.” THE NINETIES! Obviously Hilary has told her brother what to tell their parents. She also has apparently been having her brother forge notes for her to miss school.

The mom goes to see her mom and her mom is a drunk who yells at her all the time too. This mom’s life is sad and full of people treating her like crap.

Mom comes downstairs to the dad’s bowl making studio to tell him something.


Dad is so into his bowls that he ignores her and doesn’t care. This room is covered in bowls! Some are wicker baskets so maybe he weaves also? Or the art department really phoned this in? Most likely that.


Hilary Swank lays in bed while her boyfriend plucks a guitar post-coitally because he’s such a rockstar. Gross. Chadd thinks he might be inspired by their love making and I gag forever.

Mom is in her room cleaning it and starts looking through her yearbook, Kelly knows it’s to find out if the boyfriend is in the honor society and Chadd is really impressed because he had not pieced that together. Kelly knows how moms work.

Hilary gets home and her mom has cleaned her room. Chadd and Carla in unison- “STAY OUT OF MY ROOM!” They are made for each other. Hilary is pissed that the mom cleaned her room so they were also correct together. So pissed that she unmakes her bed, smashes a frame her mom gave her and then shoves her mom and runs out of the room and leaves the house. RAGE.


The parents discuss what to do about their ragey daughter and the dad is all “ehhhhh” because these parents aren’t on top of things. I think an aunt is there and she’s Luke’s sister from the Gilmore Girls. She is also unhelpful.

THE LITTLE BROTHER HAS A DRINKING PROBLEM. He’s sneaking vodka out of a drawer and then goes down to play piano and entertain everyone. He’s like 12 years old. Chadd- “you can tell by the way he plays piano that he’s a tortured soul.”


Hilary and her boyfriend climb an abandoned rollercoaster and it’s literally the best thing Chadd could ever imagine doing while Kelly is stressed out just watching this. Hilary is all “how did you find this place?” and Chadd loves that she’s so impressed that he found a giant abandoned amusement park. They then do it on top of the rollercoaster and that does seem pretty cool.

Every time she runs out of this house she finds her boyfriend and that seems impossible in the time before cell phones. Chadd thinks she has a boyfriend bat signal and that’s more plausible than just running into him which this movie wants us to buy.

Back at home the dad is all “could you just let your mom clean your room maybe?” Ummm, mo. That’s not the problem. Your 15 year old should be cleaning her own damned room. She goes upstairs and watches some movie with her mom but looks like she hates every minute of it because she is the worst asshole daughter and this mom’s life is awful.

The next day her mom has bought her a bunch of clothes and arranged them all on her bed because this girl is a spoiled brat (two new flannels!). Of course Hilary gets home and is all psyched to see the clothes but her mom comes in and busts her for missing school on Friday and she FREAKS OUT saying that school is making it up and that her mom should trust her and then she’s all “WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING AT ME?!” except she’s the one shouting and before you know it she has slapped her mom twice in the face and run out of the house.

Hilary goes out with her dude in her wide leg overalls and turtleneck and talks about how her mom owes her an apology. Ughhhh, no. The boyfriend sides with her.


The dad is all pissed that his wife is bleeding and he cleans up her face while mom makes excuses about how she shouldn’t have grabbed her (she didn’t). These parents are making me mad too. They get angry about her behavior but then they’re like “don’t worry, we know it was an accident” a minute later. Nothing she does appears to be an accident.

Hilary Swank gives her mom a phony baloney apology and the mom seems to buy it. Then Hilary is all “I need you to tell school that you wrote those notes” which is weird because once my dad learned that I did something terrible it was kind of the height for me, who cares if teachers are mad at this point? Chadd says the exact same thing. The mom is all “just tell me where you’ve been going” and she says she goes out “on the avenue” whatever that means.


Mom thinks she’s confiding in her so she goes to the school and lies and says she just forgot about writing the notes. Hilary makes up even more lies right there on the spot and now the mom thinks her daughter might be a sociopath, it’s kind of scary. They leave the office and Hilary is annoyed that the mom isn’t psyched about what just happened. Mom grabs her hand and Hilary digs her nails into it and tells her to get the fuck away because she has class to get to. Since when does she go to class?

The dad turns on some of the anger that we knew so well from when he was on the Wonder Years and lays down the law. Hilary gets home and dad is all “we’re going to talk in the dining room now” but she says she has to go to the bathroom. Little Brother is all “now you’ve gotten us both in trouble!” and he calls her stupid which really pisses her off. He says that skipping school was stupid and hitting mom was stupid. She says that hitting mom was an accident and that he needs to get his eyes checked. Yes, an accident… She also says he needs to do something about his breath before they go downstairs so she knows about his boozing. Chadd loves their relationship. He also loves trying to figure out what computer games the brother is playing in all of his scenes.

In her room her boyfriend has climbed through the window and is all flirty. She goes downstairs while he waits by the bed.

The dad has all these rules and says if she breaks one she’ll lose her stereo (which I mis-hear as cereal) and then tv and then phone. She’s all no problem because she has a dude upstairs to get back to and so she’s not really listening. He also found out that her boyfriend is on suspension for hitting a teacher. Man, these two might be made for each other.

She literally goes upstairs and bangs her boyfriend in her childhood bedroom while her parents are outside her room and she laughs and laughs. They kiss louder than anyone in the world so I’m shocked she doesn’t get caught. I can’t imagine living in this world where the kids are in charge and the parents walk around kissing their butts. My dad would never allow such a topsy turvy world and good for him.

Of course the next day she doesn’t go home after school because she has a sweet tambourine gig with her boyfriend’s band. She both doesn’t know how to play tambourine and has no rhythm so this is AMAZING. I could make an animated gif of this and watch it all day.


She calls home and is all “I’m at a coffeeshop with Elaine, don’t worry, I had school work after school” and she plays really dumb like she didn’t know that wasn’t cool (Chadd says that he did this often in high school). Dad falls for it despite the terrible acting in this scene. Mom knows better and calls Elaine and hey, you guys, SHE’S LYING. I’m sure you didn’t see that coming.


^^^ Full body photo for the outfit ^^^ She goes back in and plays another set because her band apparently has an intermission during their long, rhythm free set. Her boyfriend plays guitar very creatively and by that I mean he just flops his hands around the neck.


She gets home and her parents are of course like “hey, we caught you lying yet again” and she screams at them to get out of her room and then punches her dad and slams his hand in her door over and over until he breaks his fingers. Then she runs away while her dad ices his hand and yells for the son so they can run to the hospital.


She ANGRILY climbs the abandoned rollercoaster and her boyfriend is all “you’re going to get hurt! This isn’t safe!” which is what Kelly thought before but Chadd says that climbing with anger is dangerous but climbing with lust is safe. Duh, everyone knows that.

She tells her boyfriend that she thinks she may have too many rage hormones inside her or something and her boyfriend totally relates because he thinks about killing his mom all the time. Yikes. He then shows her a map detailing his plans to drive through California, sell a few songs in LA and then end up in Austin and he wants to bring his sweet tail with him. She seems pretty psyched to skip town with her boyfriend who shares her rage issues. Also, this plan sounds really solid. Especially the part where they’re relying on him selling a few songs while in LA to fund the trip.

Dad’s hand is all broken and in a splint so how will he write software and make bowls now?!

Dad photographs some of his wonderful bowls to make himself feel better.


Mom chooses to self medicate with alcohol instead.

Hilary gets home and her parents are in her room. Her dad says that if she touches one more person in this house that he’ll call the cops. She’s all “and tell them what?” The dad is all “I hope you never find out.” Her reaction shows that she’s a sociopath- “maybe I’ll tell them it was self defense… maybe I’ll say you attacked me… maybe I’ll say you tried to rape me.” Her dad is like “holy shit, our daughter is a monster” and rightfully so.

Hilary asks her brother to deliver a letter to her boyfriend because she plans to go to California with him and get away. The brother is all “you can’t do that” because a drunk 12 year old is smarter than her. He delivers the letter anyway because presumably he doesn’t want his shitty sister around anymore.

She sneaks out in the middle of the night and looks for her boyfriend at the abandoned rollercoaster but he’s not there. Chadd thinks it would be amazing if the boyfriend is cheating on her at their romantic rollercoaster spot but alas, he’s not. He’s late because his mom’s date beat him up and he wants to go back and kill them both. Of course his girlfriend has rage issues and is all “yeah!”

She goes home and her dad is awake and on the stairs stroking his broken hand angrily. She is all “sorry, just went for a walk.” Her dad is all “at 2am?!?” She complains that she was cooped up all day and needed some air and hello, that’s because you’re grounded, girl! She backs away from them and picks up a phone and starts swinging it around and then hits her mom and smashes the mirror over the fireplace.


Then she grabs a butcher knife and threatens everyone as she runs to her room. Cops swarm the place.

She has gone from anger to abuse to attempted murder in just a month or so. It’s a very accelerated pace.

The parents quickly start telling the cops that they don’t want her to be arrested (WHY?!) but it turns out little brother called the cops and she gets arrested while the parents make more excuses for her murderous rage.


Being in jail is not fun, she’s bumming pretty hard. The lady jailer is costumed so badly that her pants have given her a complete front butt and I feel bad. Chadd- “this lady was probably excited to be cast in a movie and then told all of her friends.” Ugh, yes. Why did they do that to this woman?

Hilary asks to call her parents but she actually calls her boyfriend and he’s all “don’t worry, I’ll bust you out if I have to.” Yeah, 16 year old shitty boyfriend, I believe you.


She sits in her cell and looks at his yearbook photo where he busted out the original duckface. It’s crazy that we’re supposed to think that this boy is bad and cool.

The court says that she can go live with her aunt while the trial goes on because home is too scary right now and the parents are all “no, it’s fine.” IT IS NOT FINE. These parents are in incredible denial. Chadd thinks this movie is very nuanced because the parents are sad and Hilary is remorseful. He has a very low bar for what he considers nuanced but I kind of see what he means.


Mom goes over to her mom’s to clean and help out and the old lady continues to be mean and then actually slaps her. This mom gets hit by all generations in her family.

The aunt has a heart to heart with her about her mom and how their mom was very mean and strict so they went the other direction. Hilary is all “why can’t this just happen to someone else??” whine whine whine.

Her mom calls her and is all “remember how close we were? You’re the only one I can talk to.” Um, your daughter should not be your friend first. This mom is making me crazy. Hilary hangs up on her so she calls back and the aunt hangs up on her. Mom drinks.


Little Brother tells Hilary that their mom keeps drinking and dad keeps fighting and that everything sucks. She’s all “you shouldn’t have called the cops.” Yes, you clearly take responsibility for your actions, girl. He says that she had a knife and she casually says “I never would have used it” with a real teenager huff. She does not get that she threatened her family with a knife. He wants her to take him with her to California. Just what two stupid teenagers on the run need- a 12 year old alcoholic tagging along. She tries to explain to him that it won’t work.

Mom gets super wasted on scotch and makes a weird, lumpy pizza while wasted. There is no way this would cook through so I can’t wait to see it coming out of the oven but everyone says they won’t show us that part. She drives this pizza all the way over to her sister’s to bring it to her daughter. She has a drunken meltdown that is sad while Hilary Swank runs out of there, as is her way. How small are these suburbs that she gets everywhere so fast on foot?


Uh oh, she runs to her boyfriend’s house and he’s not home (the boyfriend’s house has giant strands of silver shiny things hanging on the porch- Chadd thinks he lives in the future). She runs to the abandoned rollercoaster but he’s up there WITH ANOTHER GIRL so we call get our dream of him cheating in their rollercoaster. Hilary is horrified but runs away. Also, it’s snowing and there is snow everywhere so this rollercoaster spot seems problematic, especially given how they’re all in winter clothes and giant coats.

The aunt comes over and tells mom that she is reminding her of their mother with her alcoholism and everything. She’s all “if I’m so bad then why are my kids so great??!” but that seems like a bad thing to say while one is in court and one is wasted at 12. She goes up to see what little brother is up to and he’s in bed wasted with a bottle of vodka that has spilled.


He clearly wants his mom to know that he has a problem but she pretends not to see it. He comes stumbling down the stairs and now everyone knows.

The dad goes downstairs to work on more friggin salad bowls and says that he knew the kid was wasted at Christmas and one other time last year but didn’t want to say anything. These parents are like noparents I’ve ever seen in my life. No one talks about anything- it’s the worst.

They fight and say that their marriage has been shitty since they had their kids because she let the kids run her life and he hid away in the basement making these bowls. He’s literally surrounded by hundreds of bowls which makes sense if he’s been making them for 15 years. He turns the light off and goes upstairs leaving mom in the dark. Chadd- “Good luck getting out of my labirynth of bowls!”

Hilary sees her boyfriend and he’s all “It was just my ex!” She asks if he had sex with her and he’s all “it meant nothing” which translates to “yes.” She gets angry and he’s all “hey, I’m just being honest.” Ugh, that’s the worst way to try to excuse your own bad behavior. It’s right up there with “I’m sorry you’re upset.”

Mom looks at the family photo Hilary Swank smashed and the epicenter of the shatter is over the mom’s face.

They get to counseling and it’s all very brief and lame. Her dad is all “I love your mother very much” and Hilary is all “you wanted mom to have an abortion” and WHY DOES SHE KNOW THAT?! Carla- “mom probably got soused and told her one day.” Yeah, probably. He says he wasn’t ready and just wanted to wait. Kelly- “how old are they supposed to be?? How long did he want to wait?” I look it up and he was 50 when this was filmed so yeah, how long did he want to wait?


Everyone cries and it seems to be wrapped up with a bow.


6 weeks later Hilary goes to see her cheating boyfriend and he’s all ready to leave town and tells him that she wants to stay because things are going well. He gets super pissed and raises his hand like he’s going to slap her and she cowers. Chadd- “he has much yellower teeth than someone on tv should have.”

THE END. I guess that settles that? The rage problem, alcoholism and denial are all okay now I assume.


One thought on “Terror in the Family.

  1. Pingback: My Year in Movies, 2013 | The Sense of Right Alliance

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