Three Month Reveal
When Greg Kent (Cameron Bancroft - The Wedding March) and his wife split there was a huge and painful custody battle over his daughter Rachel (Tiera Skovbye - My Daughter's Disgrace) who ended up staying with her mum. But 3 months ago Rachel moved in with her father and her step-mother, Cindy (Josie Davis - Backstabbed), along with her half sister, Addy (Ali Skovbye - Campfire Kiss), when her mother reportedly had a serious drug problem. Unfortunately things get messy when Cindy finds Rachel on the floor of where she works having been attacked and her best friend murdered leading to major press coverage. Whilst Cindy wants to protect Rachel from all the press and Det. Pam Cherfils' (Lucia Walters) questioning, she begins to suspect that Rachel may not be as innocent as she makes out as one minute she plays victim and the next she loves the attention whilst also turning nasty towards her.
So first things first and "Secrets of My Stepdaughter", which is also known as "A Murder Upstairs", is based on a true story which I believe is the Lululemon murder. But whilst based on a true story this initially feels like a pretty standard drama, although a well worked one at that. As such on a simple level we have this crime at a store where there is a murder and the detective doesn't believe the story which Rachel has given as there are inconsistencies. We also have the step mum who whilst wanting to protect her stepdaughter becomes suspicious due to Rachel showing there are various sides to her personality as one minute she is playing victim and the next she turns violent. As such we quickly begin to suspect that Rachel is not what she seems and when she turns psycho it isn't much of a surprise, that isn't a spoiler, it comes too early on in the movie.
But there is another side to "Secrets of My Stepdaughter" as we have Greg who feels that he let his daughter down when she went to live with her mum and so out of that sense of guilt will do what ever it takes to protect her. Now as he is a businessman he on one hand will use his contacts to make things difficult for the police, especially Det. Pam Cherfils as she feels that Rachel is getting away with murder. But we also see how he is willing to lie to cover for her over stolen clothes as he doesn't want to let her down again but of course in doing so is doing just that. But this side also nicely leads to stress between Greg and Cindy who feels he is doing wrong by covering for Rachel whilst Det. Cherfils also sees a chink in the family set up.
It is also worth mentioning that both Josie Davis and Cameron Bancroft deliver strong performances delivering the fear and the protectiveness of their characters. At the same time Tiera Skovbye does a really nice job of playing the volatile nature of her character with the split second violent outbursts being quite frightening. And yes the actresses playing sisters in "Secrets of My Stepdaughter" are related in real life which adds some thing to the movie as they are natural around each other.
What this all boils down to is that "Secrets of My Stepdaughter" is actually surprisingly good as there are some nice additional layers to what initially feels like a routine made for TV dramatization of a true story. It also features strong performances from the cast with a lot less of the forced sort of acting which many expect from a made for TV movie.