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Bella Thorne stars in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, our Sunday TV movie pick

Imagine your teenager is fighting depression, and he is suicidal, and his alleged friend does nothing to alert anyone to the fact and actually encourages him to commit suicide.

That’s what happens as Bella Thorne plays the villain in the chilling film, Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, our Sunday TV movie pick on Lifetime.

What is the film based on?

This film is based on true events. A teen suicide, spurred by inaction and apathy, relayed by a volley of suspect and unkind text messages, is the crime dramatically retold in this film.

The antagonist, Michelle Carter, is portrayed by Bella Thorne, and Austin P. Mckenzie is cast as the ill-fated Conrad Roy III.

The toxic text suicide case, as it was dubbed, happened in Massachusetts. The trial ended with Michelle Carter being found guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the death of Conrad Roy III.

County Juvenile Court Judge Lawrence Moniz said, “This court has found that Carter’s actions and failure to act where it was her self-created duty to Roy since she put him in that toxic environment constituted reckless conduct…The court finds that the conduct caused the death of Mr. Roy.”

The real-life suicide was a horrific chain of events. Roy had killed himself on July 13, 2014, while sitting in his truck in a nearby town.  He had been texting messages to Carter, who never alerted anyone about his suicidal behavior.

Carter was convicted and sentenced to 2.5 years in the Bristol County House of Correction, with 15 months to be served and the rest suspended, followed by five years of probation, for her role in Roy’s death.

What happens in the film?

Based on real-life events, court testimony, and authentic texts, Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill reenacts the turbulent tragic teen romance of Michelle Carter (Bella Thorne) and Conrad Roy (Austin P. Mckenzie) that sent warning signals across the country. The case proved that a discoverable trail of texting could make someone a responsible party in a crime or a death.

Bella Thorne plays Michelle, not a true friend to Conrad, as we find out. Pic credit: Lifetime
Bella Thorne plays Michelle, who was not a true friend to Conrad, as we find out. Pic credit: Lifetime

During a family vacation, Conrad, who suffers from social anxiety and has a hard time connecting with people, finds what he thinks is a kindred spirit in Michelle, who we learn has issues of her own.

Both are depicted as having suicidal tendencies, and they turn to each other for friendship and support.

Bella Thorne and Austin P. Mckenzie star in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, based on true events. Pic credit: Lifetime
Bella Thorne and Austin P. Mckenzie star in Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill, based on true events. Pic credit: Lifetime

Using text messaging as a way to further their relationship, the two communicate, and their toxic relationship of dependency blossoms over time. Their relationship progresses to the point of sickness as Conrad expresses being overwhelmed with sadness and thoughts of suicide, and Michelle callously encourages his train of thought instead of getting him help.

Michelle actually encourages and guides Conrad on how to take his own life.

This film is a cautionary tale of just how impactful human connections, both good and bad, can be, and it shows how to look for disturbing behaviors that signal someone needs help.

Conrad & Michelle: If Words Could Kill premieres on September 23 at 8 pm EST/PST on Lifetime

April Neale
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