2 March 2018 | Ed-Shullivan
Poor Laura, If she thinks nobody cares if she's alive, try missing a couple of car payments
Life and family is all about keeping it in perspective. You see, Laura Raeburn (Tina Ivlev) felt neglected by her mother Carolyn Raeburn (Christina Cox) and stepfather Alex (Matt Corboy) so she took a 180 degree turn in her approach to her young life and decided to be around horses that were stabled at a woman named Marty Fowler's (Paula Trickey) horse ranch.
This made for TV Lifetime film did not waste any time getting into the crux of the story which evolves around Marty Fowler and her burly husband Joel who are brainwashing several young teenage girls that their existing lives stink and if they choose to live on Marty's ranch they can live a life they choose (or so they think) riding horses and working their tails off cleaning stalls and maintaining the ranch without pay to the Fowler's direct benefit of free labour. It also does not take Carolyn very long to figure out that Marty is brainwashing these young girls into a cult like atmosphere.
The film is an over the top dramatization in which a mom is pitted against her 16 year old daughter by a mind control female rancher and her burly husband that can only lead to disappointment for all parties ending up in the criminal courts which is exactly what happens. On top of the cult like captivity Laura has been subjected to, it puts an absolute strain on Carolyn and Alex's marriage.
Carolyn Raeburn was a hard working mother and her daughter Laura, who just received a convertible BMW for her 16th birthday feels neglected in her five bedroom home. In almost all families there is disagreement between teenagers and their parents on what their young adolescent children want to do as most children are unaware of risks and only think about immediate rewards and their own personal satisfaction and/or despair.
I honestly felt uncomfortable watching this made for TV movie as my parents were pretty strict with us growing up, and I in turn made sure my own children knew what was acceptable and what was not acceptable. I do understand that there is a percentage of teenagers who either run afoul of the law, acquire a drug or alcohol dependency at a young age, or just revolt against their parents for no apparent reason. What I do agree with in this film is that a child's mind is very vulnerable, ca be easily influenced and even the very best parents could end up with a "problem child". In this case Carolyn and and Alex's daughter Laura was easily influenced by Marty and Joel Fowler especially since Marty had Laura's mind and body controlled 24 hours a day on her horse ranch.
There have been many documentaries and dramatic films released on the existence of large cults and the sheer desperation parents have in trying to break their children not only physically from the cult situation, but to restore their children's mind and sense of family that was once their norm.
Rather than parents taking the situation into their own hands I would have preferred to see the situation being handled by true professionals and/or highly trained mercenaries but emotions run high (maybe too high in this film) and the ending was neither pleasant nor believable. Laura seemed to be represented as a prized animal by both her parents who wanted her back even though they hardly spent time with her before she went to live on Marty and Joel's ranch, and Marty and Joel treated Laura as one of their livestock which they fed and housed but in return, they expected Laura to work for her keep each and every day on their ranch without compensation.