Bet you didn’t expect “Starving in Suburbia,” a Lifetime movie about the dangerous online world of thinspiration websites and anorexia, to turn into a weird, twisty pseudo-horror movie, did you?
That’s a Lifetime movie for ya. And while this one was actually quite good — some really interesting filmmaking choices and storytelling devices, an excellent leading lady in Laura Slade Wiggins — it took a turn for the weird toward the end.
If you’re tuning in for campy fun, you’ll have to wait until the second half of the film, when the movie gets pretty heavy handed with its horror movie tropes and becomes increasingly dark (like, literally — how much blue filter is too much blue filter?). The campy dialogue we love (and look for in a Lifetime movie) wasn’t really there — sure, a couple of overly explanatory interactions gave off that familiar, low-budget vibe — but things got kind of weird after the midway point.
Wiggins plays Hannah, a teenage dancer sucked into the pro-Ana underbelly of the Internet, whose family is pretty normal, except for her dad is super intense about her wrestler brother’s diet.
Turns out (major spoiler alert, but why the heck have you read this far if you didn’t want to be spoiled?) her brother was on the thinspiration train long before Hannah, and even started sending her anonymous text messages encouraging her disordered eating.
The family didn’t find out until he collapsed mid-wrestling meet that he was actually hiding his anorexia behind his “healthy” eating. His heart gave out and he lost oxygen to his brain, leaving him braindead and his family faced with the difficult task of pulling the plug.
But even before the big reveal, Hannah’s spiral into anorexia was portrayed less as an obsession an more like she was a possessed girl from a horror movie. Then the whole brother twist happened and it turned into an ultra-dramatic Lifetime movie like we were expecting all along.
That’s not a bad thing, by the way. The fact that the movie was so tonally mixed just adds to its Lifetime-y appeal. Plus, since Wiggins is actually a good actress, she pulled off the lesson-learny part of the movie without making you roll your eyes too much. This thinspiration stuff really is scary, so kudos to Wiggins for doing such a great job, and to the filmmakers for not forgetting that Lifetime movies need to have some sort of guilty pleasure fun aspects to land among the Lifetime classics.
What did you think of “Starving in Suburbia”? Tweet @Zap2it with your thoughts.