Caught in His Web: Cyberbully Stalks Teens in Lifetime's Latest Thriller

Caught in His WebLifetime’s latest Saturday night thriller is a cautionary tale about the dangers of technology. Inspired by actual events, Caught in His Web tells the horrifying story of three high school students (Malia Baker, Alison Thorton, Emma Tremblay) who are each ensnared by a creepy cyberbully who coerces them into sharing nude photos, then harasses, stalks, and blackmails them. Garcelle Beauvais (The Magicians) costars as a police detective who helps the girls identify and turn the tables on their harasser.

In a recent Zoom panel, the cast spoke at length about the film and the dangers that young people are exposed to through their smartphones and social media. As the parent of two teens, Beauvais feels the film sends an important message.

“One of the reasons why it was so important not only to be a part of [this movie] but to get the word out is because it can happen,” she told SciFi Vision, “and I'm always trying to use things as cautionary tales for my boys.  I always say don't ever give your personal information to anyone, but obviously these girls did, and they just got targeted.”

Caught in His WebWhile her your costars are cautious social media users, they are keenly aware of the dangers of technology. “I had friends in high school who had their photos shared,” said Thornton (Dare Me). “I feel like it's something that is really common nowadays.  Sending a picture is like currency…So, I think that it's a really important message.”

Baker (The Baby-Sitters Club) agreed. “I feel like especially being a young girl in today's society, you have to normalize [that] this can happen, and if you take pictures, it's inevitable for that to happen. I feel like this movie just dives deep into it on a great level, and it's really important, and I'm glad that we're able to share the message.

“It's terrifying,” Tremblay (Supergirl) echoed, “because it's totally real and happens, and I was just lucky enough to be aware of it as I grew up and just avoided that danger.

The cast spoke at length about their online experiences, and the young stars raved about working with Beauvais, an industry veteran who makes her Lifetime debut with this film. Read the transcript below.

Caught in His Web
 premieres tonight on Lifetime at 8p/7c. Check your cable guide for encores on Sunday and beyond.

Zoom Conference
Caught in His Web
Garcelle Beauvais, Emma Tremblay, Malia Baker, and Alison Thorton

January 10, 2022

SCIFI VISION:  Garcelle, as a parent – I think you have teenagers at home – and the rest of the cast, all [of] you are young ladies, either high school age or it's not that far behind you; how much were you aware of this type of problem in high schools?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  First of all, I want to say hi to the cast.  I love these girls.

ALL:  Hi.

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  For me, one of the reasons why it was so important not only to be a part of it but to get the word out is because it can happen, and I'm always trying to use things as cautionary tales for my boys.  And I always say don't ever give your personal information to anyone but obviously these girls did, and they just got targeted.  I think this film is really important.

ALISON THORNTON:  Yeah.  I had friends in high school who had their photos shared, unfortunately.  I feel like it's something that is really common nowadays.  Sending a picture is like currency, especially I think in the age of COVID when everyone's separate.  So, I think that it's a really important message.

EMMA TREMBLAY:  I grew up in a house where my parents were very aware of what I was doing online just for my own safety and protection, and I'm just grateful that I had that support system and I never had to experience anything as traumatic as what we go through in this movie…It's terrifying because it's totally real and happens and I was just lucky enough to be aware of it as I grew up and just avoided that danger.

MALIA BAKER:  For sure.  I agree.  I feel like especially being a young girl in today's society, you have to normalize kind of almost connotation of this can happen, and if you take pictures, it's inevitable for that to happen. And I feel like this movie just dives deep into it on a great level, and it's really important, and I'm glad that we're able to share the message.

QUESTION:  Garcelle, I want to ask you first, I feel like this is so relevant in today's world because so many are trapped in crazy things on the internet and social media.  But what made this movie project, one you definitely were game to do?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Well, I had never worked for Lifetime, believe it or not.  I've been in the industry for 100+ years.  So that definitely was an opportunity that I didn’t want to pass.  But like you said, it's such an important thing.  We share so much of our lives on social media that you would think that these young girls could have some privacy when needed, and the fact that if you share one photo, nowadays, people can change things.  They can even do videos and edit them, so it looks like you're doing something.  So, to me, it was really, really important, and having 14-year-old boys, I try to stress to a point where they're like, "Mom, not everybody's bad."  And I'm like, "No, not everybody's bad but there's a lot of people who want to take advantage," and I feel like that's what this movie speaks about.  Even if you're a great kid, great grades, you abide by the rules, this can also happen to you, and I think that's the message too. 

QUESTION:  Garcelle, have you ever come across a sticky situation being on social media, being a public figure in the public eye?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Yeah.  Absolutely.  I think I'm always careful.  Now, I don't post in real-time.  If I go to an event, I will post the next day so I'm not literally at the event when I post, just out of caution.  But I also feel like, for me, when I posed for Playboy, that was a really big deal for me because not a lot of black women get to be on the cover and it was a big deal, and I only shot my top.  I only exposed my top, and I feel like there are pictures out that people have edited that are not me.  So that can – it can ruin a career.  It can ruin your life if certain things are put out there that are not your image or not what you've done, and so it's just scary all around.  Although social media can also be great, but that aspect, I think, is really scary.

QUESTION:  To all of the girls…what did you guys learn personally from Garcelle?  Did you learn anything and take anything away from her?

ALISON THORNTON:  Watching how Garcelle composes herself on set is really inspiring.  I remember we were doing a scene, I can't say what it is because it's a spoiler but there was a note that I was having trouble understanding, and I did a take, and then I did a different take trying to incorporate the note, and then I remember we just had a moment where I spoke to her about it, and then we spoke to Hannah, the director. And she’s so good at being assertive in terms of asking for what you need and clarification and also just being so warm to everyone and so supportive on set.  It made for such a wonderful and open environment to work with which I was very grateful for.

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Aw, thank you.  I love that.  They were so great.  I love all of them equally. 

EMMA TREMBLAY:  I can totally bounce off of what Alison said because I feel the exact same way.  Garcelle made set just so comfortable and, of course, I was like, “Oh, my gosh, I'm working with Garcelle!” And she was just the sweetest, most wonderful woman to work with, and you were all incredible.


MALIA BAKER:  I definitely agree with everything you girls just said.  I'd also say there was this one – there [were] a few days, actually, where the call sheet got messed up and our scenes were all being switched around, and I remember Garcelle had this huge monologue, and she was ready but they changed some of the lines, and she was trying to get it ready but by the time that we were filming, she got them all down. And I think just thinking on my feet and, like you guys said, being assertive, knowing what I want and not being afraid to ask for it.  It's really important on set, and I feel like you can get shuffled into that, “No, it's okay, thank you,” that kind of realm.  So it's great to learn.

QUESTION:  Okay, so when I watched the film, and I'm a parent, all I could think about, and I want everyone's input on this, is that smartphones, not cellphones but smartphones that have internet connectivity, there should be an age limit because it seems to amplify the worst of all of the things that we experience growing up, and kids are notoriously bad at containing themselves and exercising caution with something that easy to use.  I wanted your opinion – Garcelle especially you, and also the cast.  Would there be an age for the younger cast?  Would there be an age acceptable for you to have just a cellphone and not a smartphone and then make the transition when you're more emotionally able to handle the responsibility?

ALISON THORNTON:  I actually think that that's a great idea.  I personally didn’t get a smartphone until I think I was 15.  But yeah, I think what you said is a really great point because I remember even when I was younger, I would send silly photos to my friends on Snapchat and whatnot, and people would screenshot them without me knowing. I remember having someone come to my school and talk about this, actually, and say on an app like Snapchat, you think that what you're sending is gonna disappear in a few seconds and it doesn’t even occur to you that people – like, whenever you send something like that, even if it's a silly photo or something that you wouldn’t want everyone to see, you don't know whose eyes are gonna be on it and even at 13, 14, I, for some reason, that didn’t click in my mind.  So, I think having just a normal cellphone, not a smartphone, maybe is fine just for emergencies if you're taking the bus home or whatever but for me, I think 15 was a good age for me to get my smartphone just for emails and whatnot. 

EMMA TREMBLAY:  Yeah.  For me, I was 12.  It was just when I started walking to school by myself, so my parents were like, okay, now you can have a phone. And I feel like just being introduced to social media and the internet [in] a slower way and just a good environment was really nice.  Just not having that exposure to discover myself, I feel like that’s just really dangerous because there's so much on the internet that is just endless, and it's scary to think that there could be little kids out there seeing things that they shouldn’t be seeing.  It's a scary place.

MALIA BAKER:  Sure.  Yeah.  I agree.  I think it's definitely a debatable topic.  I have a younger sister who's 11, and I was around 11, 12, when I got my first phone, and she has one now, and there was always gonna be that kind of protectiveness I think when she has that. And [with] a lot of the apps nowadays, like Alison said, you can just send things and you don’t know that they're being screenshotted. Or like Emma said, you can discover a lot of things that you shouldn’t necessarily be discovering at that young an age.  But I feel like on the other flip side of it, there's a lot of great things that you can be creative with or just share information that you think is important if you want to use your voice.  Even just looking up photos of puppies.  There are great aspects to it but I think they come hand-in-hand with some of the scarier parts, and I think they're both really important to take into account.

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Yeah.  I agree with everything you guys are saying.  As a parent, it's scary. The minute you hand your kids a phone, whether it's 11, 12, 13, and it's just scary because they have access to everything. You can do the parental codes, and I'm sure you guys can agree that there's ways around those parental codes. (Laughs.) And so I worry.  I worry all the time, and you can't live your life in fear, but I think you can also be aware of some of the pitfalls.  And I hope this is what the movie does.  I am having a screening at my house when this airs with my kids and their friends because I really want the message out there.

QUESTION:  Just curious about the nature of Whoopi's involvement in this.  Obviously, she's talking about issues every day on The View, and she's very invested in what she chooses to deal with subject-wise.  Could any of you who had direct contact with her on this talk about the nature of her involvement?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Unfortunately, because she's so booked and busy, she wasn't on set.  She was working in New York on "The View," of course.  But I think she chooses her projects carefully.  I would assume she has grandchildren, and this was probably a topic that she could connect to and spread the word. 

QUESTION:  Garcelle, you acted as sort of a mentor to the girls when you were making this film.  But do you have any cautionary tales for them about being an actor?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Let me just tell you, these young ladies have their heads on right. They are professional. They are sweet.  They are kind, and I love their relationship.  I don’t know if you guys even knew each other prior to this but I felt like there was an instant kinship between them.  I would say, for me, always show up prepared, and cautionary tales, if something doesn’t feel right to you in your gut, there's probably a reason, and always follow that. 

QUESTION:  Emma, Alison, and Malia, you're three young women dealing in this crazy social media world to begin with, but then you add in that layer that the three of you decided to get into acting at a young age.  Did you have more conversations with people about how the social media world was going to increase for you because of that or did it create more concerns?  Have you put up more firewalls?  How has that ramped up what you were already dealing with as young women anyway?

MALIA BAKER:  Yeah.  I feel like having social media is the automatic go-to, especially when you are more in the public.  It can be terrifying.  I was not a natural social media dealer.  I didn’t have Instagram or Snapchat, and then when I got into acting, they were like, you need to get these things, and I was like, “Oh, great.  That sounds amazing.”  So, it wasn't a natural ease into this whole big world, and I feel like growing up, getting into this industry at a younger age, it is a necessity and as great as it can be, it can also be like Garcelle mentioned earlier, a little scary, posting things in the moment or having your locations on.  There are just certain priorities that need to be taken care of and accountability that needs to be had when we're thinking about all the aspects of this.

EMMA TREMBLAY:  For me, social media was really easy to get into because my parents were with me the whole time and explained everything so well and explained all the dangers and all the positive things. So, for me, yeah, it was a really nice introduction into it and I have a good relationship with social media, and I'm thankful for that because like I've always said, it's a scary place.
ALISON THORNTON:  Yeah.  I would agree with both of you guys on that.  I, like Malia, it wasn't natural for me to be on social media.  I wasn't on it before I was acting, and even now, sometimes it feels like there's this weird pressure to post and to keep people up to date with what I'm doing which I'm still coming to terms with.  Sometimes I do silly things, like I'll post something and then five seconds later be like, "No, I can't post that," and then delete it right away.  So, I'm still navigating social media, but we'll see.

EMMA TREMBLAY:  We all are.


QUESTION:  I know sextortion is an ongoing issue here and I was just wondering, how much of this film, and maybe you can give an example, is based on actual events?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Oh, well, it definitely is based on actual events.  I think what's happening is that we're all learning how to navigate this social media world, and I think with kids, remember when you were a kid?  I think everything was rosy and you were so hopeful and full of life and trusted people. And I think the cautionary tale is not that you can't trust people, especially if you're in high school because you need to make friends, but it's what you share with people. And if someone's asking you to share something inappropriate, it's probably inappropriate to do so. I have two 14-year-old boys and I try to tell them if someone sends you a picture of someone, do not forward that picture to another friend because that's how it all gets started.  So, it's real events but then applied to how modern and how dependent we are on these devices that we hold onto all day. 

QUESTION:  Garcelle, can you talk to us at all about the development, as far as your part of it, the development of the movie?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  When I got the script, I was fascinated.  At first, I thought how does someone get to control your life like that?  And it was really a deep dive into how people hack the information they get, what they do to it, identity theft.  It was a lot in terms of going down that rabbit hole and realizing how much someone can have an effect on your life, someone who's not even in your home, who you don't really have contact with.  So, for me, it's really getting into that mindset that I wanted to understand what the girls were going through but at the same time, I felt like my character was not tech savvy and had to learn a lot as she went along.  So, it was about learning a lot but then letting it go so that it didn’t appear that I had all the answers.  Does that make sense?

QUESTION:  Yes, it does.  Thank you.  And the actor that played the hacker girl that helped out was really good too.

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Yeah.  She was really great.  Morgan was really great.

QUESTION:  Too often, law enforcement doesn’t even take actual rape seriously much less sexual harassment.  What is there about this case even in the story that had the law enforcement taking it seriously?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  Well, I think the fact that my character pushed that along because at first, even when Alison's character went to the precinct to report it, it was brushed aside.  Like, okay, these girls say this guy is coming after them but there wasn't really any concrete proof and especially, I would have to say in the tech world, sometimes a lot of adults, me included, don't know everything that these kids can get into.  So with law enforcement, I feel like until something bad happens, they really can't do anything about it, but I felt like my character at least took it seriously enough and I think it was maybe because of the connection of these young girls to delve a little deeper and see what she could find out and hopefully catch this guy.

QUESTION:  Have you ever been inspired by anything, bad interactions you've had online, to look further into who the heck is this idiot?

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  No, I just block and delete. [laughs] I don’t have that much time. But I just think it's unfortunate that somebody who you don’t even know, not a real interaction with, can really ruin your life, and I think that's a cautionary tale for all of us, really, whether you're young or old.

QUESTION:  If you all were going to a high school or junior high school to speak to the students in reference to the fact that this film has come out, what is the message that you would like to relate to the young people that would hear you speak?

ALISON THORNTON:  That's a really good question.  I think that, personally, what I would say is my biggest takeaway from shooting the movie is just pay attention to the power that people, especially women in this case, can have when they believe each other and when they support each other.  I think that a lot of times today, there's this culture of being a savage and being cold and not necessarily being nice to each other, and I think that this movie is really empowering because of shows the opposite effect of that and how there's way more power united and how you can actually take down predators and you can go to such intense lengths when you believe people and support them.

MALIA BAKER:  I agree with Alison on hundred percent. You said it perfectly.  And I feel like this film has such in-your-face messaging. Nothing is filtered in a sense that you need to look really, really hard for the underlying meaning of the film.  It's there and being united and having young women especially being united on this front, there's amazing moments in the movie where you see that happening. And I feel like, going forward with this film and with other ones in general, it's just really empowering to see it, especially coming from the same perspective on the world as I think a lot of young people watching this movie will feel.

EMMA TREMBLAY:  I personally love what Alison said and what I was thinking is my favorite part of the film is just the fact that these girls are so much stronger together and the way that they form their team is so beautiful and fun to watch, and I'm so glad that I got to work with Malia and Alison as my two classmates.  They were incredible.  And then Garcelle as well.  We were just a great team.  We were a great team together.

GARCELLE BEAUVAIS:  We were a great team.  I agree with everything these young girls have said but I also feel like it can happen to anyone.  I think that's what I would say in my conversation with the students is that it can happen to anyone.  Just be careful.

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