Status: Unknown Proves Lifetime’s Relationship Status With The Internet Is ‘It’s Complicated’
Did Lifetime get stood up by the Internet at prom or something? Why else would the channel try to ruin the Internet's reputation in practically every movie it airs? I don't think the Internet needs its name dragged through the mud anymore than it already has been. Yet Lifetime keeps giving us movies where technology leads to bullying, bad dates and/or murder. In Status: Unknown it's that last one. But this one isn't as black and white, because while the Internet is used by bad guys to make their crimes possible, it's also used by good guys to solve those crimes. WHICH IS IT, LIFETIME?!
We start the movie with a ten-year high school reunion in Baton Rouge where unfortunately nobody dances to “Time After Time.” We're introduced to Karen (Stephanie Honore), who doesn't want to go to the reunion without her husband Paul (Griff Furst), who seems a little too eager to get her out of the house so he can “work.” In Lifetime movies, when a man says he has to “work,” it means he has to work… on sleeping with his mistress.
Karen eventually decides to go, and it's there that she runs into a couple of old friends, Cynthia (Tenaj L. Jackson) and Jessica. Jessica is played by Stacey Oristano, whom I immediately recognized as Truly from Bunheads. Why are you in this movie, Stacey? Why aren't you trying to get Bunheads uncanceled? I just think everyone involved in Bunheads should be working 24/7 to get Bunheads back.
Karen and Jessica, who lives in D.C., keep in touch through a cutting-edge social media montage featuring some website that looks a lot like Facebook except it's yellow, so it's DIFFERENT, okay?! Jessica's a social media manager for an airline, so she spends a lot of time online, something her roommate Cynthia doesn't approve of as a print journalist and a stand-in for Lifetime itself. Every word out of her mouth involves scolding Jessica for going online.
But it's the Internet that helps Jessica realize that something's wrong with Karen. First she sees her post the status “What happens when the trust is gone?” That's something I'm pretty sure I've read verbatim at least 30 times on Facebook. And I'm sure when people commented “What happened?” Karen was just like, “I don't want to talk about it.” Then she changes her relationship status to “it's complicated,” something I didn't think anyone did unironically.
But things just get weirder from there. Karen posts that she's leaving Baton Rouge for Hawaii and posts a photo from the plane. Only problem? The location still says Baton Rouge, and Karen had conveniently told Jessica she's afraid of flying. Be sure to tell all your acquaintances about your phobias just in case you're ever murdered and they have to solve the mystery via social media.
While she's conveniently visiting Baton Rouge with Cynthia (seriously, Lifetime should just change its name to the Coincidence Channel), Jessica decides to scope out Karen's house. That's where she sees Karen's husband Paul dragging something wrapped in tarp out to the shed. They both do that “What are you doing? No what are you doing?” thing, and Jessica leaves convinced that Paul murdered Karen and hid her in the shed. She obviously doesn't realize how early in the movie it is.
Jessica discovers that Paul is working for Karen's company with his girlfriend from high school, Rebecca (Hilty Bowen), whom he also happens to be sleeping with. Rebecca looks a lot like Karen, so this is where things got confusing for me. Every character in every Lifetime movie should have a totally different hair color so I can keep track, even if that means an inordinate amount of characters would look like they were attending an '80s punk concert.
It's about this time that Jessica and Cynthia run into Diana (Brea Grant), who thankfully has bleached blonde hair, which is very helpful. She claims to be Karen's BFF and says she bought her plane ticket and she's definitely, for sure, without a doubt in Hawaii, probably because she and Paul have been having marriage troubles. As we know, marriage troubles in Lifetime movies lead to murder 100% of the time. Okay, unless it's in a Christmas movie. Then it just leads to Santa bringing them together.
Jessica then makes the worst mistake you can make in a Lifetime movie and goes to a parking garage. HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO SAY THIS? Never go into a parking garage, especially if you're embroiled in any sort of “I'm suspicious of that guy over there” scandal. Obviously she nearly gets run over by a car — on purpose, not just because someone sucks at driving.
At this point I should mention that Jessica is hooking up with a guy from high school named Josh, who's played by Stephen Colletti in his second Lifetime movie. I guess he got really good at acting on Laguna Beach and decided to pursue it. ZING! Josh helps Jessica break into Paul's house, where she discovers the tarp in the shed contains something other than a body, but Paul has Karen's ID in his house. Just when Paul returns home, Josh saves her by pretending to have a flat tire. Jessica is so appreciative she sleeps with him later.
But remember, the Internet is evil and will ruin your life, so obviously Jessica leaves her laptop open at the perfect angle to capture her having sex, and she wakes up to see that someone's posted photos of the act on her company's social media accounts. Only the clothed ones, though. This is a basic cable villain, after all. Cynthia arrives to tell them that, through her investigative journalist skillz, she discovered that Rebecca changed her SAT scores by hacking, so it must be her!
Wrong again. Soon after bleached blonde Diana shows up again to frantically admit that Paul told her to buy the plane ticket, Jessica puts it together that she was the killer when she notices that she's not in any of Karen's wedding photos, even though she claimed to be a bridesmaid. Thank God for social media. Or don't, because it's evil. WHICH IS IT?
Jessica and Josh rush to save Cynthia, who's over at Diana's house. It's there that she discovers Diana is… how you say… crazy? She claims to have gotten engaged to Paul when they were only kids, and she's also glued her face into photos with him. Wow, so she's crazy and unoriginal. Oh, and she's also storing mistress Rebecca in the trunk of her car. No biggie.
As Josh and Jessica are driving to save Cynthia, they get pulled over by a cop for speeding. Jessica tries to explain their situation, but then admits, “It's never not gonna sound crazy.” You don't have to tell me; I recap these things every week. Luckily they arrive at Diana's house just in time for Diana to stab Josh in the back. Jessica runs to him and asks if he's okay. Yeah, of course he's okay. Who isn't okay when they've just been STABBED IN THE BACK?! Jessica and Cynthia fight off Diana, who runs away to burn Paul's house down while he and Rebecca are in it. Before she lights the match, though, she makes sure to wrap a string wedding ring around Paul's finger… but she puts it on his right hand. Do they not teach these things in villain school?
Jessica leaves to chase after Diana in her car, and Cynthia hangs back like, “Sure, I'll just wait here at the murderer's house with your wounded boyfriend. That's cool.” Jessica and Diana end up in the woods, where Diana declares she's going to kill Jessica and forge a suicide note online. Online suicide note, you say? Anyone else get flashbacks to non-Lifetime-Lifetime-movie Cyber Bully? (“I can't get the cap off!”) Luckily Jessica grabbed Cynthia's phone, so she's able to call her own phone, whose ring tone is Cynthia saying “Stop right there! Put down the phone!” (Remember Cynthia wants Jessica to stop using technology.) This distracts Diana so that Jessica can use the phone again to knock Diana over the head. SYMBOLISM. So technology is bad, but it can also save you from crazy murderers. How do I know whether to throw all my electronics out the window if you're this ambiguous, Lifetime?
Josh ends up okay, and Diana admits to killing Karen, whose body the cops find in a lake. However, somehow she says she only has 25 years with good behavior. Who does she tell this to, you ask? Just Paul, Karen's husband, who visits her in prison and gives away the fact that he was in on it the whole time. He pretended to be in love with Diana so she would kill Karen and take the fall, and he would be free to drive off with his mistress Rebecca and live happily ever after… until 25 years from now, when I'm expecting a sequel. I'm watching you, Lifetime.