So, we may have just realized you can watch old Lifetime made for TV movies on both the Lifetime website and most streaming services. While browsing these titles, we found this gem from 2014 starring 90210‘s Annie, Pretty Little Liars‘ Toby and Jane the Virgin‘s Michael. The plot is an unholy combo of I Know What You Did Last Summer, 50 First Dates, and My Sweet Audrina and the fashion is 2014tastic. Sit back and enjoy our recap of… THE HAZING SECRET.
This throwback font is our first clue that, despite being set in the 2010s, everything about this story feels like it’s 1990. Theory: a Lifetime exec found this script at the bottom of a storage box, changed maybe three plot points, and rushed it into production.
Our heroine is Megan, or as I can’t not think of her, Shenae Grimes-Beech aka 90210’s Annie. She’s a college student studying psychology, and as such has gone undercover in a sorority to study the effects of peer pressure on young women. You can tell she doesn’t quite belong as she attends a keg party in a crocheted crop top AND oversized army jacket.
This is the sorority’s President, who dresses all the time like Snow White gone wrong in exclusively red and black. Assuming she got voted in due to being a) clearly evil and b) her insane taste in accessories. played by poor man’s Megan Fox. And further proving my 1990 screenplay hypothesis, she has the name of so many 20-year-olds these days, Nancy.
Gwen, the Amanda Seyfried of this mean girls squad, always dresses in orange. Pretty sure this illustrates how she’s literally a pale impersonation of Nancy herself. Even her necklace is a little less ostentatious.
Kim, seen here in blue, was probably the outsider until Shenae came to town. Her gold chains and girlie aesthetic ties her visually to Gwen and Nancy, but the modest cut shows she’s not really that much like them. She’s also The Nice One.
Another important character is Shenae’s boyfriend, played by professional Nice Guy Brett Dier aka Jane the Virgin’s ex-fiance Michael. As on JtV, his fashion choices aren’t much to write home about but show that he’s “down to earth” and “relatable.” Also note here Shenae’s recording everything, an important facet of her character (aside from the ethic-free psychology experimenting side of her).
And guess who Michael’s BFF is? None other than Toby from PLL, aka Trent the psychology grad student, aka please get a haircut oh my god. He’s the sort of dudebro who crashes a sorority party despite being older than everyone else, emphasizes the age gap by wearing a suit and tie, and then sits around pretentiously acting so much better than everyone else. All-around winner.
Michael’s l’il sis Melissa, an 18-year-old freshman, is also at the party because she’s pledging to Phi Kappa Death. Unfortch, she happens to sit next to Kim’s dirtbag BF who sexually harasses her, invoking the ire of the Heathers. Ugh, GET MAD AT MIKE YOU GUYS. Melissa is the victim here. #OvariesBeforeBrovaries
But these three won’t take her “crime” sitting down, so even though hazing isn’t allowed anymore (script change from 1990) they decide to throw this basement sesh for old times sake/to give this movie a title. So they don their ceremonial Kappa Delta Death robes and rope body necklaces (?) and force Melissa into a coffin with her hands tied. Only Shenae is like, “Not cool, you guys!” But I guess her undercover psychology sting operation is more important because she doesn’t stop them.
Aaaand… Melissa dies from choking on her vomit. Nobody tries CPR or calling 911 or anything, that’s how clearly dead she is.
Then PLOT TWIST!
Shenae wakes up and just like Pretty Little Liars season 6B, it’s #5YearsForward and also the Melissa death party was just a dream! Phew.
BUT Shenae has amnesia and can’t remember anything from the past five years. And also her memory wipes itself every night when she goes to sleep. She learns this by watching a recording she made herself yesterday on her tablet, which is filled with vlogs from every day for the past five years.
That is some serious memory storage on that device. Assuming she just used a journal in the original 1990 version.
Despite having no short-term memory, and despite never being real friends with these bitches (see above re: using them for a psychological experiment), Shenae’s apparently still super tight with Kim. #5YearsForward Kim is looking pretty damn good in her fancy city businesslady trench, colorful dress and umbrella.
Either the amnesia or a total commitment to this grunge tomboy look finds Shenae dressing more or less identically to her dream, with a more tummy covering too. minus the crop top. I appreciate she’s wearing flats, as she does for the whole film. When you’re an amnesiac living in The City, it makes sense to walk everywhere rather than re-learning the subway map every 24 hours.
Kim reminds her that the weekend Greek reunion retreat starts later that day, which: even if they graduated five years ago, is kind of soon for a reunion, is it not? Shenae’s not sure she should go, but decides to see what her therapist thinks.
That therapist is none other than Trent/Toby, who apparently started treating her for her memory loss issues five years ago when he was still a grad student, and is still on the case today. He’s also still committed to this greasy ‘do and extremely sinister facial expressions. He explains to Shenae that a) Melissa died on her own, the nightmare was not true and b) Annie lost her memory shortly after Melissa’s death, when she threw herself off the sorority house roof and c) going to the weekend retreat may help her bring back her memories, so she should totally go. Who wouldn’t trust this guy??
So off she goes to this cabin in the middle of literally nowhere. As soon as I saw this lake, I called that before the movie was done someone would drown in it, and SPOILER someone totally does. It’s almost like I’ve seen movies before.
I’m feeling Shenae’s camping look. The hoodie and tee help keep her warm from the lake breezes, while the distressed cut offs give it a boho vibe. Assuming she’s covered in bug spray because that’s a lot of leg.
The whole gang’s here! By which I mean, all of the extras from the dream party and Shenae’s only three friends. Kim’s look is the girlie version of Shenae’s, again reminding us she’s the nice one.
Gwen’s in a tangerine cocktail dress and Nancy’s serving up baby Victoria Grayson. I’m both cases, business as usz.
But the moderately stressful party gets a bit more intense when the four ladies receive basically letters from A.
You know A would have attached this message to a miniature coffin with like, a human finger bone inside, so this ransom note styled communiqué is basically amateur hour. Still, Shenae’s freaked out because it makes her think of her nightmare. The others are mostly unfazed because, if you will recall with Troby said, Melissa died on her own, not as a botched hazing ritual.
Also, Gwen proves that peplums only really belong in the city. A gust of wind and you’re like a human mini-kite.
But the PLL-style threats keep coming in, first as a video sent to all of their phones of pre-death Melissa talking about how much she likes pledging to Phi Kappa Dead, and then in the form of this formal invitation to go to the shed at 6pm. Always a good idea when you’re an amnesiac who may or may not be being currently stalked by a psycho to go to a second location without telling anyone.
And sure enough, when Shenae arrives, Kim’s been strung up in a Phi Delta Die robe and strung into a sort of murder-suicide noose. Shenae saves the day with a nearby ax, just as Nancy and Gwen arrive – having received similar invitations themselves.
Nancy is convinced this series of death threats/attempted murders are a series of “hilarious” “jokes” from the frat boys. As a fashion blogger, I am unable to mention Nancy’s killer bracelet-ring piece here. This so perfectly suits her ruthless Queen Bee persona, like I can picture her using this to slice open some poor minion’s face who dared to wear the same nail polish as her.
Back in the room they’re all sharing, someone’s left them each a Grecian style gown, mask, and body jewellery.
Nancy weirdly blames Shenae for leaving these things and masterminding all the creepy shit, and even when Kim and Shenae are like “#AMNESIA!” Nance won’t back down. That doesn’t stop any of them from putting on these new duds, despite me yelling at them “I BET THE DRESSES ARE POISONED YOU GUYS!!”
But not only are the dresses non-poisoned, they also fit each of them to a T, as is so often the case when strangers buy you form-fitting gowns. It must have taken ages for them to wrangle into these intense body necklaces, too.
Oh and guess who else is at the Greek weekend despite not having belonged to a frat and his sister having died pledging Die Kappa Death? Shenae’s ex-BF Michael who, just like on JtV, is now a cop. Shenae considers telling him about the death threats/attempts, but is dragged away by the Heathers before she can.
Oh and then Kim washes up ashore, totally dead. #CalledIt
Now the plot gets a little (more) unhinged. Nancy accuses Shenae of basically killing everyone.
The movie explains her paranoia as general malice, but how much better would it have been if Nancy found out Shenae only joined the sorority to spy on them and now mistrusts her? They never find out that info, you guys. Why did they even include that info??
ANYWAYS, Nancy then drops a bomb: Melissa DID die in a hazing ritual, but it was Shenae herself who masterminded it. Gwen’s face at this reveal tells us all we need to know about the truthfulness of this accusation.
But Shenae, having no one else to trust or to turn to, believes this intel and records a tearful vlog where she takes the blame. Then Michael steals her tablet, watches the video, becomes insensed this amnesiac hid this info from him for five years, and chases after her murderously – like literally yelling “I will kill you!!!!”
Shenae runs off to Troby’s cabin (FYI he drove up to pick her up after she started panicking) for help, and he reveals that somehow the phones don’t work and there’s no cell phone service. Almost like… this was written in 1990 and they needed a way to avoid the obvious questions of “Why doesn’t anyone use a cell phone?” as well as “How has nobody called the cops by now?”
For those keeping track, Shenae hasn’t slept since she woke up at the start of this movie, so we’re well over 24 hours without sleep. She’s managed this by chugging coffee to keep her memory from getting wiped again. So: lack of sleep, Kim’s death, her own guilt and Michael’s attempted murder of her has got Shenae pretty high strung by now.
Despite evil literally seeping off of him, she agrees to be hypnotized by Troby. I thought for a minute his hypnosis thingie was one of Nancy’s necklaces, but it’s not. How great would it be if it was, though, and he was in league with her or something??
While under hypnosis, Shenae remembers some crucial info. Namely: that yes, the Heathers did totally kill Melissa, as well as that Nancy was wearing this confounding hair comb as it happened. Girl is evil, but she’s got amazing taste in unconventional jewellery.
Oh also, Shenae didn’t try to kill herself five years ago: Nancy pushed her off the roof to keep her from blabbing about Melissa’s murder to the cops. While dressed as Elvira.
Thus armed with info, Shenae heads back out to hopefully be not murdered by Michael. For protection, she grabs the same ax used earlier to save Kim. Because it’s not a Showtime movie without a screencap like this:
Note: I like this sweater on her. Not anyone could make this loose knit work, but as we know from 90210, Shenae has magic boho pixie fashion powers that allow her to pull off even the weirdest things.
Anyway, Troby saves the day, knocking Michael out. But just when it seems we’ve caught the killer/stalker, Troby comes in for a consoling hug only to knock her out via syringe. What, the greasy-haired clearly evil dude was up to no good? WHAT???
Shenae wakes up in, you guessed it, the coffin of doooom.
Having already taken care of Kim, Troby’s got Gwen and Nancy held hostage in the shed. But why? Will we ever learn his reasons?
Of course we do, this is a Lifetime movie. It seems he’s brought Shenae here in this scenario as a last-ditch psychological experiment to get her memory back. Dude is committed to this case but also: this is why maybe a more experienced psychiatrist may have been more helpful for her 365 x 5 days ago.
And then PLOT TWIST!! He doesn’t only want her to regain her memories as a professional accomplishment for him: he wants her to get her memory back because he’s been IN LOVE WITH HER THIS WHOLE TIME!
To save her friends/herself, clever Shenae pretends she got her memory back and that she loves him, hugging him long enough to distract him so that Michael (who’s now conscious AND not bad anymore guys, that was just a murderous misunderstanding) can kill him.
So finally, and about twenty-four hours too late, the medics and cops arrive. Shenae does truly have her memory back now, so Troby’s plan did wind up working.
Bafflingly, she ends the movie arm-in-arm with Michael who was literally trying to murder her ten minutes ago. You guys, has she lost her short-term memories of earlier this day???? And how do we know her newly-restored memories are here to stay? Girl still hasn’t had a nap. I think we may need a sequel, you guys.