Writer Pamela K. Long has assembled a formulaic tale about a Southern girl who, accused as a child of killing her mom and baby sister, is now 18 and seeking the real killer. Except for Kellie Martin’s perf as the desperate girl, this unlikely drama is tough to buy.
Billie (Martin), sent to juve hall when she was 10 after the deaths from a fire that she survived, recalls the figure of an unidentified man in the burning house before she was rescued. With everyone thinking she’s guilty, Billie escapes and starts her search aided by young, friendly police detective Matt (Antonio Sabato Jr.), who believes her and helps hide her.
It’s a Southern town in which a powerful man, Jack Devereaux (Ken Howard), always has his way with people. His wife (Cindy Pickett) yields to him; his son, Clay (Reed Diamond), bows to him. Billie heard her single mom talk about the Devereaux mansion, and thinks it figures in the secret concerning the fire.
The unlikely team of Billie and Matt fumbles along while Matt’s boss (Bruce Weitz) plays tough. Just who torched Billie’s home years ago is supposed to be the point, but the plot’s blunted by blind alleys and obvious characters. Martin manages to create moments of concern with her earnest perf, and Allison Porter, as the younger Billie, does a solid job.
Sabato is good-looking and unconvincing, and Weitz plays too broadly. Howard moves flatly through his role, and Diamond tries hard to be debonair. Gordon Clapp as Father Paul, a non-inhaling smoker, is unlikely, while Pickett doesn’t get a chance to create much of a character. Veteran character actor Red West, as the man who rescued Billie from that fire, makes the most of a scene that helps unlock the mystery, and Diana Taylor is good as a sympathetic guard.
Daniel Lerner directs without much punch. Patrick Williams furnishes an overbearing score, and designer Gary New uses the Nashville locations with imagination. Michael Gershman’s camerawork is realistic and interesting, while Victor DuBois’ editing hands the vidpic some of its energy.