Film Review: Netflix`s “American Murder: The Family Next Door” (2022)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

We tend to believe that people are genuinely nice, generous and kind-hearted human beings. Two souls meeting each other, deeply falling in love and building a union to last for the rest of their lives is like a fairy tale one’s meant to live happily ever after. Neighbors pass around in awe when the joy comes out of the house. Social media pages are filled with happy moments of the family growing together. The little we knew was just the tip of the iceberg that soon the entire world will come to know – what we admired and were in envy of turns into a bloody crime scene next door.

“American Murder: The Family Next Door” is a true-crime documentary directed by Jenny Popplewell that reconstructs the moments before the disappearance of Shannan Watts and her two beautiful daughters, Celeste and Bella. With bodycam footage from police officers, the film offers chilling moments that will lead to a devastating revelation. In the meantime, it shows the effect of social media on Shannan’s family, when she was painted as a narcissist and controlling wife because Chris himself painted her that way.

What appears to be a nice man with genuine kindness on TV begging his wife and children to return home because the house is not complete without them, you begin to feel for him. Why not though? He wants his family back and make it right with his pregnant wife. However, why the police conducts an investigation and tries to solve the piece of the puzzle that Shannan Watts was buried in a shallow grave at Chris’ workplace, while his daughters who considered their daddy a hero, see him turn into a bloody murderer by staffing their dead bodies into twenty-foot-high oil tanks on the property.

Just to prepare you, it’s not an easy walk to take. Get ready to be outraged, insanely mad and perhaps shocked and shaken to the core. It’s a true-crime story you will wish you had never heard about. But it’s a perfect example of what really lies behind a good-looking face, pretentious smile and happy face – a monster who’s built a façade to fool others and keep to himself who he really is until he let’s the true nature comes out. It’s brilliant storytelling and eloquently narrated – because it’s nothing except the American Murder of the family next door that wanted nothing but to live a much longer life. Sadly, it was cut short because one husband and father, instead of asking for a divorce, commits a vicious crime and could not stop even at the moment, when his daughter pleaded – No, Daddy. But her hero would not care less, because of the role switch that made him decide to become the life taker of his wife and children instead.

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