The Grim Sleeper (Review)

The Grim Sleeper

Grim Sleeper
Written by Teena Booth and Robert Nathan
Directed by Stanley M. Brooks

Grim Sleeper Lifetime
Lifetime puts out a lot of ridiculous crap as original movies, expertly giving the world scandal-fueled exploitative drama for close to 25 years. But occasionally, they turn out something decent, something that tells a story that should be told and that covers a host of class and racial issues that aren’t talked about much on television. One thing I have noticed is Lifetime has been increasing the amount of African-American based television movies, though for the most part those are largely all-black casts. The target demographic is welcome, because it’s ignored far too often by far too many. The Grim Sleeper features a mix of white and black stars, because the (true) story covered involved people both white and black.

In 2008, it became apparent that a serial killer had been preying on women in the LA area. The victims were almost exclusively black women, shot, raped, and dumped in abandoned alleys. A journalist named Christine Pelisek helped piece together that the man was out there, and through her work also discovered links dating back to the 1980s. It soon became apparent that the police knew about the slayings, and the murders dating back decades, and weren’t planning on informing the community of what was going on.
Grim Sleeper Lifetime
Pelisek said “screw that!” and soon it was a headline feature in the LA Weekly (you can read the original article here, and read the interview with the only known survivor here.) The community was less than impressed that the LAPD had chosen to keep this under wraps, and drama happened.

The Grim Sleeper fictionalizes lead up to the publication of the story and the eventual arrest of the alleged suspect (who has yet to go to trial!), but many events are based on fact. Several of the characters are closely based on real victims, Christine Pelisek is a real person, and the true-life aspect helps give the story the grounding to be more effective.
Grim Sleeper Lifetime

Christine Pelisek (Dreama Walker) – Bright-eyed young newspaper fact-checker at the LA Weekly who stumbles upon the story of a lifetime and helps alert a community to a dangerous presence. A strong willed investigator who won’t rest until she’s figured out the truth.
Margette (Macy Gray) – Survivor of an attack by the mysterious killer later dubbed the Grim Sleeper, Margette and Christine spend lots of time together as Margette tries to help the investigation by locating a house the killer stopped at.
Detective Bill Simms (Michael O’Neill) – Lead detective on the murder cases and the guy who puts together the link to the old unsolved cases. Wants to keep this under wraps so the killer doesn’t disappear again. Faces a lot of flack for what turns out to be a wrong decision. Doesn’t like Christine butting in on his investigation, but begins to learn to work with her.
Melayna Jefferson (Dinora Walcott) – Adoptive sister of one of the victims, she feels guilt because she left her sister out in the streets when she had attitude and that was the last she saw of her. Becomes one of the leading members of the relatives and a friend of Christine.
Jasper Morales (Brendan Fletcher) – Worker at the city morgue, whose list of unsolved murder cases helps put Christine on the road to her discovery. Is crushing on her, but Christine is too focused on journalism to have time for anything.
Detective Gerry Claymar (Ernie Hudson) – Detective Claymar shows up about halfway through the film (just as Jasper disappears from the film) and helps balance out the police parts of the story. Despite Ernie Hudson doing his best, this role is the weakest of the major characters just because there isn’t enough time left to give him his due.

Grim Sleeper Lifetime
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