A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
At the end, disturbing statistics about how many women are murdered by their current or ex-partner each day.
Positive Role Models
Documentary explores the disappearance of a woman and her two daughters and the terrible events that followed.
Violence & Scariness
While not visually graphic, documentary goes into detail about what happened to a missing woman and her two kids and how they were murdered.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
In texts from Shanann to her friends and spouse, she discusses her desires for sex, and discusses how she and her partner are no longer having sex.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Some profanity, spoken and in text exchanges. "F--king," "s--t," "crap," "bitchy," "damn," "ass." Talk about sex through texts.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Talk of how a man and the woman he was having an affair with went out for drinks.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that American Murder: The Family Next Door is a true-crime documentary about the disappearance of a woman and her two daughters and the horrific discoveries that followed. As the title implies, the documentary explores how and why a seemingly happy woman and her two young kids were murdered. While not visually graphic, the documentary goes into detail about what happened to a missing woman and her two kids and how they were killed. The story is told through source material such as police camera footage, social media posts and videos, texts, and police interrogation room cameras. In texts, the woman discusses her sex life with her best friend, her desires for sex, and the lack of sex from her husband. Some profanity, spoken and in text, including "f--k." The story and disturbing nature of these murders and how they are presented makes this best for mature teens and adults. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
From a production standpoint, this documentary is very good. Told through raw (sometimes painfully so) footage like social media posts, police cameras, and texts, the horrific account of the disappearance of a Colorado woman and her two kids and the process of uncovering what really happened unfolds like a well-paced mystery story. The events and the backstory of the people involved are balanced, and the direct events of the disappearances, the discoveries, the trial, and the aftermath reveal how these murders were covered by the national media as well as the appalling participation in the case by many on social media.
The problem with American Murder: The Family Next Door is that this wasn't a mystery. A woman and two kids were senselessly murdered, and while there's a disturbing statistic at the end of the movie ("In America, three women are killed by their current or ex-partner every day."), the experience of watching this feels voyeuristic and downright creepy. Text exchanges in which the murdered woman discusses her sex life or lack thereof start to feel gratuitous. The spectacle of the story outweighs any attempt at substantive discussion about what might be done to prevent murders like these from happening. It leads one to wonder why cable channels and streaming services seem to prefer putting out far more sensationalized "documentaries" about Hitler, Ted Bundy, and incomprehensible acts of abhorrent criminality from deranged minds as opposed to documentaries on Mother Teresa, Civil Rights icons, and affirming acts of human decency and selflessness. Viewers are likely to leave this documentary feeling unsettled and disturbed.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.