Directed by: Larry Peerce
Starring: Ashley Peldon (Catherine), Mel Harris (Jill), Dwight Schultz (Rob), Sam Gifaldi (Eric), Mariette Hartley (Therapist), Rosanna DeSoto (Doris)
Country: USA; Effed Up American Movies
Genres: Based on a True Story, Siblings-Family, Old-Young, Misery-Depressing-Mental Illness, Domestic Abuse, Childhood, Violence Against Animals
Plot – Spoilers:
A pastor and his wife who’ve been childless for years, adopt siblings, Catherine and Eric. Early on, it’s obvious that Eric takes his cues from Cat, even looking to her for approval while raising his little hand to ask a question.
This is a TV movie, and the parents act like a tv couple trying to make their new kids feel at home. While Eric is easy to handle, Cat gets harder with each passing day, often having violent outbursts that belie her age. She’s also cruel to her brother and animals and you wouldn’t be alone if you thought this was another of those TV movies following the evil step-mother/adopted kid tropes. Except, this is kind of real and based on the case of Beth Thomas.
The Real Catherine:
Beth Thomas eventually made it and is now a nurse. Her therapist, Connell Watkins, with her controversial techniques (as featured here), got into trouble when a child under her care died. Beth testified on her behalf, but Watkins eventually served prison time.
A documentary featuring the young Beth Thomas was made a couple years earlier.