Have you ever thought about picking up a handsome stranger who shows up at your church picnic? No, not a handsome stranger who's visiting his dear aunt who goes to your church, just some dude who is staring you down at the park (in the dead of fall when it is way too cold to be having a picnic).
If you said "yes," you haven't seen Gospel of Deceit, a Lifetime movie from 2006. Within the first 15 minutes of the movie, a successful preacher and his wife have met a leather- and jean-jacketed young man, played softball with him, invited him to dinner, hired him on as their "handyman," and given him the keys to their church so he can sleep in the basement. What could go wrong?
EVERYTHING, of course. The preacher's wife, Emily, soon finds herself having dreams about the sexy stranger (not surprising, because she goes to bed wearing a silk nightie, way too titillating for a non-slut on Lifetime). And who could blame her for having impure thoughts? Once he's installed as their handyman, he's always doing manly things like fixing her car, and even though none of the trees have leaves and you can see the actors' breath, he takes off his tight black t-shirt to wipe the imaginary sweat from his six-pack abs.
If this isn't enough to convince you he's a sexy handyman of doom, you should know that he's played by Corey Sevier. A spitting image of Mac from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Corey also starred in the Lifetime classic Student Seduction as the student who tries to seduce -- then tells everyone he was seduced by -- his science teacher, played by Elizabeth Berkley. (Yes, he was also Timmy in the Animal Planet version of The New Lassie, which scandalously used a French-Canadian Lassie.) The object of Corey's obsession in Gospel of Deceit, Alexandra Paul, is also a Lifetime movie veteran, known for her unwavering portrayal of annoying, yet determined moms who know nothing about their children's lives in such teen-gone-wrong movies as The Boy She Met Online and Betrayed at 17. It's so refreshing to see her break free from her usual Lifetime movie role and instead play a stereotypical Lifetime woman with an asshole husband who doesn't understand her!
Maybe it's because he's a preacher, but Ted, Emily's husband, is especially good at being an asshole. Emily is trying to help him with his new TV career, but he hates her meddling into his business matters. While Emily gets belittled by Ted, Corey continues to saunter around in jeans and a solid color T-shirt, and to make Emily even hornier, her quilting circle keeps gossiping about him. So she goes to the church in the middle of the night -- yes, the one Corey lives in -- to pray that she'll stop having dreams about getting dry-humped in her nightie on the living room floor.
Unfortunately, Corey and a sexy saxophone soundtrack are there waiting for her. When he throatily asks her why she prays, she says it makes her feel love, and that it's more fulfilling than other kinds of love she's felt. "Maybe it's meant to fulfill your soul," Corey says, getting closer, "and leave the other kind of fulfilling to your husband... or lover." Emily kisses him passionately, and soon they're in his church basement bed, saxophone trilling and his back rippling. The next day, Emily can hardly look her parishioners in the face as she hands out hymnals....
But then that very night she's back on top of Corey, breathing heavily in a completely different nightie. She's gotta quit this! But Corey says he loves her, and that he doesn't find fucking a preacher's wife in the church basement immoral. "People can pick the wrong people to be with!" Corey yells as Emily starts to walk out the door.
But it turns out that the wrong person is Corey. In fact, as soon as Emily leaves, he gets a mysterious call on his cell. "Just relax and hold up your end, I'll get the money!!" he says. Corey has Emily meet him at a bar that only a guy with a leather jacket would know about. Emily hustles past the pool table in horror, but before she can finish complaining about the venue, Corey tells her he needs $50,000. When she refuses, he threatens to blackmail her, then tells her that he's a convict. "Why are you acting this way?" she whimpers. "MAYBE THIS IS THE WAY I AM, DID YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THAT?!" he screams, then winks.
But things are about to get worse. In the next scene, Emily takes her hands off the wheel of her car while praying and almost gets hit by a truck. But that's not even what I mean by "worse." I mean the scene that contains one of the most awesome Lifetime movie twists in the history of television: Corey tells Emily that he knows her deep, dark secret -- that she once had an incest baby with her father. And... HE IS THAT INCEST BABY!
I was too busy laughing to really see Emily's reaction, other than that she runs away yelling, "Noooo!!" as we all would. Naturally, she's soon stealing money from the church collection to give to her son/lover, but everyone just assumes Corey stole it, along with the family sedan. Still, Emily goes insane and -- why not? -- goes out into the front yard completely naked and starts babbling about Adam and Eve.
It turns out that Ted met her in an insane asylum after she gave birth to her "Incest Baby" and tried to commit suicide. She was so pretty, Ted never asked her why she had slit her wrists, so it comes as a shock to him when she admits, naked on the front lawn, that she has an IB and that IB is Corey. Oh, and they're fucking. Ted is disgusted, and leaves her on the lawn to sob.
The next morning Emily wakes up in the hospital. "Why am I here?" she asks. "Well, you're crazy," the nurse does not say. Instead, the only reason she offers is, "Your vitals were a little erratic, but you're OK now." (She doesn't seem to think it's odd that someone who simply had "erratic vitals" wouldn't remember the previous evening.) Oh, and guess what? Emily's pregnant!!
I know what you're thinking. It's what everyone who has ever watched this jewel in Lifetime Movie Network's "Tainted Love Tuesdays" crown thought at this moment: DOUBLE-INCEST BABY!! But the fact that this baby is most likely a DIB is never mentioned in the film. Too hot for censors, or just a really bad script? Either way, I spent the next 20 minutes yelling, "Isn't ANYBODY going to mention that this woman is carrying a double-incest baby? Get that crazy lady a paternity test and/or abortion immediately!!"
Alas, a woman getting an abortion in a Lifetime movie is even less likely than a low-income woman getting non-biased advice about her ladyparts in a red state (ha!). Emily happily carries around her probably-DIB, except for one more brush with almost-suicide via the last non-safety razor in America. But instead of killing herself, she simply shaves her legs and gets to cleaning Corey's old room under the church. There, she finds a note that indicates that someone had paid him to show up to that fateful picnic where everyone was wearing five layers of clothing in an attempt to not show how freezing it was outside.
When Emily confronts Corey, there's yet another twist! He's not her IB after all! He's just some random dude her husband hired to sully her name so he could divorce her without repercussions! Emily seems more smug that greatly, greatly relieved that she didn't have sex with her IB. But she just can't believe her husband knew about her IB and would set her up to have sex with a handsome grifter!
Corey gives her back the money he forced her to steal from the church, and she brings it to Ted and tells him that Corey was all, 'yo, your husband hired me to have hot sex with you and then tell you I was your Incest Baby.' Ted denies everything, then says that God told him the baby was his. Problem solved! Except...Ted secretly wants Emily dead! Man, he could have saved a lot of trouble with this murder plan in the first place.
So Ted meets up with Corey at the crowded leather-jacket-only bar (where no one will notice an immaculately dressed preacher), and I'm still a little let down that the baby is definitely not a DI -- or even IB, and that no one seems to know where the real IB is. Ted offers Corey 50 grand to help him murder Emily, and Corey agrees. Meanwhile, Emily is finding out from their family doctor that her husband had a vasectomy without telling her two years ago (yes, just like in My Stepson, My Lover). Ruh-roh!
At this point, it's not entirely clear why: a) Corey would give Emily back the thousands of dollars she stole for him, then agree to help murder her for only $50,000. (I kept expecting him to exclaim, "$50,000! I can live for a year on that kinda money!!"), or b) Ted would even hire Corey to help kill her at all, since the chosen method of murder is poison in her tea.
In the movie's penultimate scene, Ted puts poison in her tea and then gives it to her in bed, after telling her she should stay home from church that day. Then Corey sneaks in downstairs... to make sure she drank it? To smother her while she sleeps? We'll never know, because it turns out that Corey and Emily are in cahoots.
I'm sorry to report that instead of someone getting knocked down the stairs, or even some more sex in a nightie, Emily and Corey confront her husband during his first sermon in front of a live television audience. Ted has a congregation that's more hootin' and hollerin' than any Caucasian could hope for, and they gasp and shout appropriately when Emily accuses Ted of murder and Corey plays them a recording of his conversation with Ted in the leather bar.
Ted, not going down like that, grabs a gun from a nearby state trooper and shoots Corey in the chest. He then holds it up to Emily's head. Perhaps it's the non-DIB in her belly, but Emily stands her guard. She's finally able to disarm Ted with the immortal words: "You were right about one thing, Ted, there's no crashing God's party."
After Ted has put down the gun, everyone crowds around outside the church while Corey receives a Band-Aid for his gunshot wound. Before the cops can take him away (for violating his parole?), he and Emily share an emotional scene. Luckily for him, she's not pissed that he spent their last 10 interactions screaming at her, threatening her, and pretending to be her IB. She just wants to know why he didn't run away! "For you, and our baby." He says. "You taught me something about love and faith... I wish I could be more like you." They make out like illicit lovers who don't use protection -- and who are NOT related, thank you very much! -- in front of the entire congregation. Then the cops haul him away.
True love, Lifetime style... I just hope there's a sequel! One that doesn't involve their daughter finding forbidden love on the Internet.