On a Monday morning in August of 2018 Shanann Watts and her two daughters simply upped and vanished. A concerned friend called the police as pregnant Shanann has missed a doctor's appointment. A frantic husband rushes home and soon the missing woman and her children become headline news. American Murder The Family Next Door, is their story.
There's a lot to unpack in this documentary. Putting aside the actual story, the entire program is put together with videos that Shanann took, social media updates, texts she sent to friends, and bodycam footage from police officers. There are no interviews, fillers, or narration. What you get is an entire timeline created exclusively from existing material. The result is that you really get an up-close and personal look at every aspect of this horrific crime.
And it is horrific. Make no mistake about it. The murder of pregnant Shanann Watts and her two girls is nothing short of sickening. And seemingly all because Chris Watts was having an affair and wanted a new life.
The really interesting aspect of this story is how the police unraveled the story in just three days. From the initial search of the house, which took place just hours after she was murdered, to the very quick request that Chris take a polygraph, the Colorado police did a remarkable job of getting to the bottom of what happened. And because there were cameras in the interview suite, we get to watch as his story chops and changes. Even to the extent where he initially claimed that Shanann murdered their daughters before he killed her out of rage.
It was all bull and the police knew it. Eventually, he told the truth, pled guilty and was sentenced to three life terms in prison. I've watched countless true crime documentaries but none chilled me as much as American Murder. His detailing of how he murdered his family will make your blood run cold. There is little consolation in his guilty plea or that he will die in prison.
American Murder The Family Next Door is heartbreaking, emotional, and haunting. It will stay with you if only because Shanann, Bella and Celeste Watts deserved so much more.