Wicked Wednesday: Don’t Look Behind You (1999)

We continue into week two of Lois Duncan month with yet another made-for-TV movie. This one was made the year after I’ve Been Waiting For You, but looks about eight years older, and is a lot more shit.

Don’t Look Behind You is actually a pretty decent novel. It’s about a girl’s family forced into Witness Protection due to her father’s work with the FBI. But ultimately (like many of Duncan’s novel) it’s about a teenager learning the harsh realities of the world. Particularly that her actions have actual consequences.

Unfortunately, this little bit of Fox Family TV is trash fire that throws all that out the window. The book’s ending (kinda spoiler) is not exactly a “happy” one. It’s a realistic one. Here? Well, there’s nothing the father of a white family can’t do!

Jeff Corrigan works in the offices of a shady businessman who is smuggling weapons in drugs in Mexico. While trying to leave work with a hidden floppy disc of information, he’s caught by his boss Eric Loftin. He discovers that Jeff is wearing a wire and is talking to the FBI. The FBI agents swoop in to save the day, but Jeff is shot in the shoulder.

Loftin’s crew will do anything to make sure that Jeff can’t testify against him in court. This seems slightly irrelevant. Wouldn’t the FBI have all of Jeff’s/Loftin’s conversation recorded if Jeff was on a wire? How does technology work? How do courts work?

Anyway, Jeff’s family (now estranged) are herded together and taken to the bureau where they learn about Jeff’s heroics. He and his wife Liz had separated months ago, with Jeff claiming that his FBI contact, Ellie, was his girlfriend.

But since the family are at risk, they tell them that they must stay under FBI supervision. This means that Jeff’s daughter April can’t go to the prom. This is obviously much more upsetting than someone trying to kill her father.

The girl really doesn’t have a concept of reality. Loftin escapes during his prison transfer. And for some reason, she thinks its still a good idea to try calling her boyfriend from her house.

Loftin’s Russian/German/British?/vaguely Eastern European hackers manage to trace the call. They tap April’s boyfriend’s phone, able to trace any future calls from April.

Of course April is silly enough to continue to try contacting her boyfriend, and her family are attacked at a hotel. Because of the attack and Loftin’s escape, the FBI put the Corrigans into Witness Protection (or Witness Relocation – whatever).

The Corrigans move to their new town and see their new home. It’s of course a cute mid-Century modern home with lots of the original features. But there is some dust, so it’s apparently a hell hole.

Mr and Mrs Corrigan reignite their passion. April pines for her boyfriend who would only be cute in the 90s. Oh and there’s a son who serves no purpose.

But one night April tries to run away, and calls her boyfriend when she gets back to her house. Which, again, if the family were put into Witness Relocation, surely their house would have been sold and not sitting there for April to return to, but WHATEVER.

Loftin and his cronies pick up April’s call to her bf and realise she’s off on her own. They use April’s stupidity against her family, luring them and Ellie to the Corrigans’ home. But thankfully Ellie shoots Loftin. Not before Jeff can’t show off a little bit. Then the family decide to hang out back at their home!

Hooray! Everything is happy. Despite the fact that if there was one supplier, Loftin was just a link in a giant chain. I give the Corrigans about one week before they’re all murdered in their beds. But hey ho. They’re going to Europe for a two-week holiday!

This has to be one of the most irritating made-for-TV movies I have ever seen. In fact, it’s hands-down the worst. It’s not only cheese and poorly written, but it’s an insult to its original material.

Unfortunately, since the film decided to shift the focus from April to Jeff, I sort of don’t care what happens at the end of the movie. The girl is given no character arc. No redemption or lessons learned. She’s just a brat that gets whatever she wants. Oh, I guess she had to cut her hair.

But the movie is so hellbent on convincing you that Jeff is a great guy. That Jeff ultimately did the right thing. In reality, this should be much more ambiguous. Maybe Patrick Duffy had a clause in his contract that he needed to be the hero at all times. Something stupid needs to explain it.

Don’t Look Behind You could definitely a “so bad it’s fun” sort of film. If you haven’t read the book, it could certainly be seen that way. When you get irritated enough to go all MST3K on it, it’s at least worth giving credit for that. It has bad line-delivery, outlandish plots, outlandish plot holes, a bad script and cheap sets.

This is a piece of crap, but hopefully this is as bad as it gets.

Unnecessary fun fact: baddie Loftin was played by German actor Dominic Raacke, who was in Cannibal Ferox!

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