Review: ‘A Vow to Kill’

Julianne Phillips, a goldilocked bride in peril, and Richard Grieco, a charismatic groom up to no good, hide away on a woodsy isolated island on a honeymoon turned deadly in USA's "A Vow to Kill."

Julianne Phillips, a goldilocked bride in peril, and Richard Grieco, a charismatic groom up to no good, hide away on a woodsy isolated island on a honeymoon turned deadly in USA’s “A Vow to Kill.”

Right up USA’s B-movie alley, production benefits from the attractive casting of the blond, fluffy-haired Phillips (“Sisters”) and the dark, insidious Grieco (“21 Jump Street”).

As a public sector lawyer and daughter of a rich media giant (Gordon Pinsent) , Phillips is the smitten pawn in her husband’s clever extortion scheme, which includes bondage photos that the frolicking lovers shoot of one another while engaged in playful sex (at least in the wife’s eyes).

Kidnap hell breaks out when the photos and accompanying ransom note are messengered to the bride’s adoring father by a mysterious woman we barely see. She is the kidnapper’s wife, it turns out, who is unaccountably identified much too late in the movie to make any dramatic sense.

The frantic search for the couple on a remote Northwestern island is led by a private detective (the dogged Peter MacNeill) using all the satellite savvy of a communications/computer nerd (the affable Tom Cavanagh).

Physically if not emotionally, Grieco and Phillips manage to register blips on the tube even when they haven’t anything to say to each other, which is most of the time. The lovers’ romantic dialogue sounds as hollow as lines on a Hallmark card.

The twist in this oft-told tale is that the kidnap victim has no idea she’s being kidnapped until it’s almost too late for her to save her own life. But Phillips is no pussycat when she does wise up. She plays it smart and lays low, compelled to have congress with her vile husband through clenched teeth, among other heroics.

Director Harry S. Longstreet, who co-wrote the script with his wife, Renee (also the show’s producer), and Sean Silas, manages to maintain suspenseful pacing while making a movie that is centered on only Grieco and Phillips in their faraway island fairyland.

Their “Hansel and Gretel” cabin and thick green forests are flavorfully captured by production designer Gerry Holmes and cinematographer Francois Protat.

A Vow to Kill

(Thurs. (5), 9-11 p.m., USA)


Filmed in Toronto by Power Pictures Corp. in association with Wilshire Court Prods. Executive producer, Julian Marks; producer, Renee Longstreet; director, Harry S. Longstreet; writers, Sean Silas, Renee Longstreet, Harry S. Longstreet.


Camera, Francois Protat; editor, Lauren Schaffer; production designer, Gerry Holmes; art director, Alistair MacRae; costume design, Kei Yano; sound, Thomas Hidderley; music, John M. Keane.


Cast: Richard Grieco, Julianne Phillips, Gordon Pinsent, Peter MacNeill, Tom Cavanagh, Nicole Oliver.
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