Photo by Lifetime

Photo by Lifetime

By Leyda Quast, Live Wire Staff Writer

If there’s ever a time to brag about being a student or alumni of Manchester Community College, it’s right now, when you can say that a motion picture was filmed in part at MCC in 2015. “The Murder Pact” (a/k/a “Tell-Tale Lies”) put our campus in a whole new light as a fictional prestigious university, Camden College, where a few students will do anything to keep their bright futures intact.

Screenwriter John Doolan and director Colin Theys created this stylish modern thriller of murder, guilt and madness. If you already read Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Tell-Tale Heart” you’ll know that committing murder and burying the victim’s body under the floorboards of your house are both bad ideas. Not only would your freedom be in jeopardy, but also your sanity. (Besides, what about the unmistakable odor of death?)

In “The Murder Pact,” four rich socialites apparently never read Poe’s classic tale, and believe that throwing money at a problem will make it go away. Problem is, when that plan fails, only one deadly option is clear.

The film, set in an unnamed wealthy New England coastal town, stars Beau Mirchoff (“Awkward”), Alexa PenaVega (“Spy Kids”), Madeleine Dauer (“The Cobblestone Corridor”), Renee Olstead (“The Secret Life of the American Teenager”), Michael J. Willett (“United States of Tara”), Sara Kapner (“Hollywood Arms”) and Sean Patrick Thomas (“Cruel Intentions”), among others.

Will (Mirchoff) is a handsome model, a profession his father isn’t thrilled about, especially when Will is supposed to take over his successful company someday. Will is engaged to Camille (PenaVega), an aspiring Broadway performer, but that hasn’t stopped him from sleeping with other girls, including those “outside his circle,” like Heidi (Dauer). But Camille, who isn’t as rich, is working on her financial security with marrying Will someday, choosing to tolerate his indiscretions.

Camille heads to a party after her failed audition where her friend Annabel (Olstead), an aspiring ballet dancer, is still dealing with so-called friends making fun of her weight “problem.” Heidi’s a little drunk and accepts a party drug from Will’s friend, rower and drug dealer, Rick (Willett), and her roommate Lisa (Kapner) tries to intervene. Heidi spots Will and follows him to the roof, followed by his friends. She wants to talk to Will alone but he turns her down, instead pushing her into Rick as his birthday present. What a jerk.

Things go from bad to worse, and Heidi ends up plummeting to her death. Most would say that this was an accident, but Will, Rick, Camille and Annabel panic when they find out that Lisa witnessed the incident, and she has photos. Rick suggests that Will murder Lisa “to add to his body count.” They convince each other that it’s their only way out and, with their murder pact intact, they invite Lisa to the mansion to “make a deal.” Everyone has a price but Lisa loses.

Strange things start to happen within the brat-pack that lead them to accuse each other of snitching. The script is filled with coincidences about Lisa’s camera, laptop, photos and texts that shouldn’t be attributed to a dead person, until they start second-guessing the steps they took to cover their tracks.

Photo by Lifetime

Photo by Lifetime

When Will’s father unexpectedly visits him, look for the sinister portrait on Will’s wall of a man’s face painted red and black around his eyes. Will has a birth defect in one of his eyes and the painting seems to depict Will’s self-hatred for not being “normal” and his evil nature despite aristocratic appearances. He hides it from the world with a colored contact lens and Camille acts as if it doesn’t bother her when he’s not wearing it in bed. She has to because Will is her ticket to fame.

Check out the many scenes inside MCC with its ultra-modern architecture from the Arts, Sciences and Technology Tower, plus outside in The Village.

Only a few things stood out as bumps in the script: It’s strange that Lisa didn’t show much emotion about her roommate’s death; she simply stood outside with her camera, looking around for anyone who might have seen something. And it’s unlikely that Rick would’ve gotten away with swallowing a handful of pills in the locker room with three cops behind him conducting locker searches.

The movie soundtrack by Matthew Llewellyn is impressive. Check out the music score during the scene when Lisa is drugged and tries running away. You can almost hear a heart beating in Llewellyn’s composition and a few others. “Deadly Romance” is the song Camille sings during her audition and is also featured in its full glory during the masquerade ball dance. Those smoky vocals are by Spelles, who sounds like Florence and the Machine.

“The Murder Pact” was filmed entirely in Connecticut and produced by Rocky Hill-based Synthetic Cinema International. It was originally titled “Tell-Tale Lies” but Lifetime renamed it.

Watch “The Murder Pact” on Vudu, iTunes and Google Play. It is also being regularly replayed on Lifetime and will be shown at MCC in the auditorium next month.

This film is definitely worth watching so giving away the rest of the plot won’t happen here. By the way, if you want to see more of PenaVega she’s currently competing in this season of “Dancing with the Stars.”