Marla Grayson is a court-appointed guardian. On the outside, she’s everything you’d ever want for someone in that role: kind, consistent, empathetic and a vocal advocate for the vulnerable.
But Marla’s apparent advocacy is a cover for something more sinister: She’s a clever woman who’s made a living swindling the elderly. All she has to do is call up a dirty doctor, get him to fax over some paperwork saying that his patient is senile, dangerous and suffering from dementia. Then, Marla phones the immoral director at the nearby assisted living facility, and he opens up a room for Marla’s newest client. Against their will of course.
Turns out, kidnapping the elderly under the guise of “protection” is a lucrative business. And everything goes smoothly until Marla goes too far, picking on a Mrs. Jennifer Peterson—a woman with no family and tons of money.
At first, Mrs. Peterson is the easiest, most profitable client Marla’s ever had. But looks can be deceiving. And when Marla stumbles upon Mrs. Peterson’s diamond collection she learns that Mrs. Peterson has her own set of evil friends in high places.
And none of them are too keen on Marla.
There’s really only one person in this entire film that fights for his elderly mother’s freedom. He doesn’t handle anything well, but he deeply cares about his mom and wants her to be free from Marla’s grasp.
Marla and her girlfriend, Fran, flirt, make out and kiss often. In one scene, it’s implied that they have a sexual encounter, although the camera pans away before any clothes come off or anything drastic happens. Marla and Fran also shower together. This scene isn’t particularly sexual and only shows the women from the shoulders up. Marla works out in a sports bra and leggings.
A naked man, backside exposed, is found nearly dead on the side of the road.
A news anchor reports that a doctor was found dead in her office. A woman is nearly suffocated by a plastic bag, and she nearly dies after her car crashes into a lake. A mob boss tells Marla that he once cut off a woman’s fingers with a bread knife. He sends his “employees” to beat up a woman and leave her in her home, unconscious.
Marla comments that her captor is “lying in a pool of his own urine” after she drugs him. Men and women alike are electrically shocked with Tasers, punched and threatened with guns. A few people are shot and killed. We hear that a man died in a fire. A man punches a guard and is wrestled to the ground. Mrs. Peterson tries to choke Marla after Marla threatens her life.
Marla and an outraged man share a few heated words, and he says that he hopes she is raped and killed. She, in return, crudely tells him that if he ever spits on her or touches her again that she’ll emasculate him.
God’s name is misused five times, once paired with “d–n.” Jesus’ name is misused once as well. The f-word is used nearly 50 times; the s-word is used about five times. The c-word is used once, and we hear crude references to the male anatomy (in a violent threat) as well. Other profanity includes multiple utterances each of “b–ch,” “a–,” “a–hole,” “h—” and “d–n.”
Marla learns that a very powerful man is a drug lord who uses women as drug mules to smuggle his product.
Mrs. Peterson, along with many elderly men and women, are often drugged against their will. A few people are tranquilized. Marla drinks hard liquor and vapes.
While on the outside Marla might look like a kind, compassionate caretaker, she’s truly evil. Marla preys on the vulnerable and the elderly. She constantly lies, breaks the law, practices extortion and twists any story to make it suit her needs. She also makes the lives of hundreds of elderly men and women miserable, going so far as to make them uncomfortable and inflict pain on them to get what she wants.
And it seems that Marla had a really messed up childhood. Although the film doesn’t go into detail, Marla calls her mother a sociopath and makes it clear that she’d never try to save her mother’s life if it was threatened.
However, Marla isn’t the only guilty party involved here. Turns out there are a lot of evil people that are willing to bend the truth to make a few bucks, such as doctors, managers, business owners and caregivers.
There’s also an irony to the movie. Marla is convinced that men are evil. She says it many times. But she never seems to understand that she, too, is an evil person.
Elderly patients die in nursing home facilities without ever getting to see their children or family again, thanks to Marla. We hear that a woman stole the identity of a child who died from polio.
I Care a Lot is an R-rated, Netflix original. And I mean it when I use the word “original.” Every performance is compelling and convincing. But there’s a level of evil depicted in this story that you can feel in your bones.
This psychological thriller bombards viewers with a ton of profane language, violence and a complete disregard for any sense of morality. It’s literally the opposite of a family-friendly flick.
So what’s the point here?
Amid this weirdly compelling story of gross immorality, I think a cautionary message is perhaps intended. The story disturbingly communicates how easily wicked people can take advantage of the poor and vulnerable at will, and get away with it. Still, the film seems to suggest that such evil people will eventually reap what they sow: you can’t escape consequences for your choices forever. And one day, perhaps when you least expect it, “your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23, ESV).
It’s a sobering message. And one that’s a lot easier to access via Scripture than sitting through two hours of breathtaking wickedness onscreen.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).