"Absorbing Crime Documentary"
What You Need To Know:
AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR is an absorbing documentary with a moral worldview. Police, friends and family do whatever they can to find out what happened to their loved ones. Scenes of a loving mother and father are depicted, and a woman is willing to fight for her marriage and family. Heaven, forgiveness and prayer are also discussed. The murders aren’t extolled in any way. The family is simply trying to tell their daughter’s story. Some foul language, miscellaneous immorality and discussion about the three murders in AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR warrant extreme caution.
A Netflix original documentary, AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR follows the disappearance of Shanann Watts and her two daughters, Bella and Celeste. On the night of August 13, 2018 Shanann arrived home at 2 a.m., and it was the last time she was seen alive.
The following morning, Shanann received multiple calls and texts from her friend, Nickole Atkinson, who dropped her off early that morning after returning from a work conference in Phoenix, Arizona. Atkinson was concerned after not hearing back and went to the house to see if anything was wrong before calling the police.
When the police arrived, they waited for Shanann’s husband, Chris, to arrive home so they could enter. Chris acted like he had no idea what happened to his wife and daughters. Everything in the house was in pristine condition and seemed too good to be true. Shanann’s phone and wedding ring were left at the house, along with her car, to make it look like she had left with her children.
A few days pass as Chris keeps up the façade, doing media interviews, which blew up and made national news. However, unknown to Chris, the co-worker he was having an affair with comes forward to the police about their relationship, causing police to now believe Chris had a motive to kill his family so he can start fresh with this new woman.
Just days after the disappearance of Shanann and her two daughters, Chris is brought into the police department for questioning and a polygraph test. Chris had been dead set on his story of what happened, or didn’t, for the last few days. However, when Chris learns he failed the polygraph test, he begins to succumb and asks for his father to be with him.
Upon his father’s arrival to the room, Chris confesses to murdering his wife. At first, he claims Shanann murdered their children, but eventually he confesses to killing them as well.
AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR is an absorbing documentary. It’s told in a different way than most crime documentaries, but feels extremely personal like you’re right in the middle of the story. Real police footage along with Facebook videos and text messages between Chris, Shanann and one of her friends paints the picture of what seems to be a happy family slowly falling apart due to one person’s selfishness. Although no footage of the dead bodies is shown, it’s nauseating to hear how far Chris was willing to go to start a new life.
AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR has a moral worldview of police, friends and family willing to do whatever it takes to find out what happened to their loved ones. Scenes of a loving mother and father are depicted as well as a woman trying to fight for her marriage and family. Heaven, forgiveness and prayer are discussed, and the murders aren’t extolled in any way. The family is simply trying to tell their daughter’s story. However, AMERICAN MURDER: THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR contains some foul language, conversations about the three murders and miscellaneous immorality. So, Movieguide® advises extreme caution, especially for younger viewers.