These were absolutely horrific murders.
Chris Watts, a Colorado husband and father, killed his pregnant wife and their two precious, little girls. American Murder tells the story of the unravelling of lies; lies about the murder, and lies about the marriage.
What makes this presentation uniquely fascinating is that most of what you see is from cameras attached to police uniforms and interview footage from the precinct. There are also plenty of family videos, social media posts and texts are shared as well. All of this gives the viewer an unedited glimpse not only into the dynamic of this marriage and family, but how Mr. Watts handled the attention he was getting as authorities searched for his family.
This is not a re-enactment..this is an actual, how it happened, account of what unfolded from the moment Shannan’s friend called police to the soul-gripping scene where Chris Watts quietly confesses his guilt to his grief stricken father. This is a compilation of all the behind-the-scenes stuff we imagine takes place, but are never able to witness. In fact the very first scene of cops arriving at the Watts’ home includes footage of a “concerned” Chris Watts arriving from work and helping cops search his own house for his family.
What pulls you into this film is not the actual crime, you already know what happened, but the story itself which eventually leads to so many questions like was Chris Watts insane?
There is much to consider between the lines as well such as how do men really feel about fatherhood? When Shannan reveals she is pregnant for the third time, what was going through Chris’ mind as she video taped his reaction- most likely for her facebook page? And speaking of social media, if you pay close attention, you get a sense of the outsized role it can play in people’s lives. At one point during Christmas, Shannan directs her husband as if she was a producer of a movie; the obsessively filmed and choreographed nature of family events is a constant, and uncomfortable, theme.
For those of you who have (or will) see it, I would love to hear your thoughts on all of the above.
I always feel a wee bit better if I can honestly say that I think someone committed a crime because their head wasn’t right or they were on drugs. The most disturbing issue in this case is that Chris Watts seemed like a totally normal guy who made a decision to kill for reasons that might certainly explain a mid-life crisis or even filing for divorce..but never murders like this. It is the equivalent of burning down your house because the toaster broke, and this documentary leaves you trying to understand how this man, who seemingly had it all, set everything on fire.