A young woman falls victim to human trafficking in Lifetime’s Girl in Room 13, which features the final performance of Anne Heche, who died following a car accident in August. The late actor’s presence elevates what might otherwise be one of the network’s routine “woman in peril” movies.
Larissa Dias and Anne Heche star in Lifetime’s ripped-from-the-headlines movie
Girl in Room 13 stars Larissa Dias as the just-out-of-rehab Grace and Heche as her mother Janie. Several years ago, Grace got hooked on opioids following a diving accident. But she’s clean now, and determined to live her life on the straight and narrow.
With a new job at her brother’s restaurant and a place of her own, Grace seems to have turned her life around. But then her friend and co-worker asks her to do a favor that throws her back into the path of a sinister figure from her past. When she meets up with Richie (Max Montesi), he kidnaps her. His goal? To prostitute her and then sell her to a human trafficker.
When Grace vanishes, almost everyone assumes she slipped back into her life of drugs. But Janie is convinced something is seriously wrong, and she embarks on a frantic quest to find her daughter
‘Girl In Room 13’ draws attention to human trafficking
This Lifetime flick, which is directed by Elisabeth Röhm, draws attention to the all-too-real problem of human trafficking. Unsurprisingly, it focuses on the headline-grabbing issues of sex trafficking rather than labor trafficking, even though the latter is more widespread worldwide, according to Polaris Project, which runs the U.S. National Human Trafficking Hotline (and which teamed up with Lifetime for a PSA with the movie’s cast and director). But the movie does take care to bust certain myths about who gets trafficked and how it happens.
Notably, Grace’s nightmare begins not when she’s snatched off the street by someone in a creepy white van, but when she’s taken advantage of by someone she knows and trusts. That mirrors reality: Many traffickers target romantic partners and family members, not strangers, according to the Polaris Project. And when Janie goes to the police for help, she’s brushed off by a detective who thinks Grace is just another junkie. Because her daughter is not a perfect victim, people are all too willing to write her off. Even Grace’s stepfather thinks she’s gone missing of her own accord.
Anne Heche channels Janie’s pain over her daughter’s disappearance
Girl In Room 13 toggles between grim scenes of Grace’s captivity and her mother’s increasingly desperate search for her daughter. The former play out about how you would expect. A greasy Richie abuses Grace, feeds her drugs, and forces her to commit petty crimes and, eventually, have sex with other men. Though she makes efforts to telegraph her plight to people she encounters, no one steps in to help.
Heche – who was open about her own experiences with sexual abuse – is compelling as a mother trying to find out what happened to her daughter. Her fear, frustration, and rage are palpable and elevate the movie above the standard Lifetime fare. Girl In Room 13 is worth watching for her performance alone.
Girl In Room 13 airs Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
How to get help: If you or someone you know has been sexually abused, text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741 for free and confidential support.
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