This teen murder story, based on a real-life, mid-’80s incident in Orinda, and adapted from a Rolling Stone article, is grippingly told, rippling with social undercurrents.
Co-starring Kellie Martin and Tori Spelling, the production, directed by William A. Graham, succinctly establishes its upper-middle-class environment with opening visual signals. The community appears too good to be true — and it is.
Angela Delvecchio (Martin) is a teen outsider attempting to break into the swirl of campus insiders. She adores the pretty and popular Stacy Lookwood (Spelling) and will do anything to bask in her circle.
Martin effectively captures her character’s idealism and insecurity. Although not bad looking, she’s not the creamy, magazine cover girl who dominates life on this campus.
Her otherwise sociable mother (a sharp, understated perf by Valerie Harper) is devoutly religious and her amiable dad (Andy Romano) is mired in tinkering with his cars.
Nevertheless, Angela’s determined to succeed, challenged by her smarmy high school principal (veteran Terry O’Quinn) and the warming injunctions of her priest (Eugene Roche).
None of this plays like a cliche, thanks to co-exec producer Dan Bronson’s flavorful script and textured performances, including nicely developed supporting characters such as Jill Anderson’s clear-headed, decent student; Kathryn Morris’ black-leathered iconoclast; and Jamie Hull as a luscious beauty who comes to her senses after it’s too late.
Spelling’s mean-spirited queen bee, her sexy bitchiness serving as a prelude to her own disaster, is the linchpin of the movie. Her stabbing death at the hands of the compulsive, emotional Angela, who’s convinced she will be foolishly exposed by the girl she so much wanted to emulate, is tightly staged under a blur of front porch lights.
In the background, the community’s success and winner ethic is made to look as guilty as the forlorn Angela.