Chris Watts: Confessions of a Killer (2020 Lifetime)
Cast: Sean Kleier, Ashley Williams, Brooke Smith
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
When Chris Watts (Sean Kleier) tearfully pleaded to television cameras for the safe return of his missing pregnant wife Shanann (Ashley Williams) and their two young daughters, dark secrets loomed just beneath the surface.
A “Ripped from the Headlines” series. The movie toggles between phone videos recorded by Shanann Watts. (The missing woman) and Chris dealing with the aftermath.
Chris Watts makes does an interview on camera and then comes inside and sits on his stairs. His pregnant wife and daughters are missing, and he is surprisingly calm and collected. He is brought in for questioning, and the abducted young girl from The Silence of the Lambs is running his lie detector test, her name is Tammy. She tells him that it would be stupid to take a lie detector test if he had anything to do with their disappearance
Shanann is well connected to social media, a brand ambassador for Strive, and seems very excited to be having a new baby. She makes a father’s day video for her husband and tells him that she feels blessed and is looking forward to their third child together. Then they go on a date, and Shanna is wearing the most confusing outfit. (Cut off sleeves and a tank top with grommets.) Chris is into it, and they go home to have a sexy time. It is interrupted by their children.
The movie is depicting Chris as emasculated and frustrated. He puts his angst into working out and getting in shape. Chris works out with his shirt off and pops pills/protein shakes. (It is less sexy and more roid ragey.) He claims he is separated from his wife, and Shanann left for North Carolina to spend time with her family. He flirts with his co-worker and then goes home and watches porn on TV. Then he starts hooking up with his co-worker and taking her out on dates.
Since Shanann is well connected, she installs an app on her phone to get alerts for any charges to the joint account. She knows that Chris is up to something and expresses her concerns to her family and Chris. The relationship with the co-worker, Nikki, is heating up. She sends him pictures in lingerie, and they are spending a lot of time together… in bed. Nikki suddenly gets a conscience and calls off the relationship. She doesn’t want to be responsible for breaking up a family. (He wins her back with a pathetic bouquet.) They go camping together, and he googles “When to tell someone you love them” The answer must be now because he tells Nikki he loves her and they make out.
Chris visits Shanann in North Carolina and acts like nothing is wrong. (Even though it is VERY tense in their family.) They go to the beach, and Shanann brings it up again. She misses him and wants them to get back to where they were before she left. She also asks him point-blank if he wants this baby and realizes that he doesn’t want another baby. Chris asks for more time to think things over. (But he wants to spend time with Nikki.)
The lie detector commences, and Tammy hooks him up to the machine. She starts to ask him questions about Shanann’s disappearance. As the items are being ticked off, we get shots from the first half of the movie. Afterward, Tammy tells him that she knows he is lying and asks him to tell the truth.
Next, we see Shannan getting dropped off at her house by a friend at 2 in the morning. The friend calls the police the next day for a wellness check. The viewer watches via police bodycam footage reenactments. Shanann’s car, phone, and wedding ring are all in the house, which is concerning. Chris acts strangely and doesn’t seem as concerned as the friend who is freaking out. The neighbor tells the police that he has security footage of Chris leaving the house at 5 am.
News reporters interview Chris and Nikki sees the footage. She is suspicious of him now too.
Back in police custody, Chris admits to having an affair. Detectives reveal that they didn’t ask him about Nikki, because they already knew about her. She called the police and told them everything she knows. Tammy exits the investigating room and talks to Chris’ father, who accuses Shannan of running off and not being a good person. Then she goes back into the room and is more aggressive in her questioning. Tammy offers theories and is confused as to why Chris hasn’t even cried one. Since they are getting nowhere, Chris is allowed to talk to his father in the interrogation room.
Chris admits everything to his father. Well, the story he goes with first. He claims that Shannan was strangling his kids, and he killed her to stop her. He directs to the police to where he dumped the bodies. (In a water tank.) Tammy and detectives still don’t think he is telling the whole truth. The question him one more time.
The movie depicts the night of the murders. Chris and Shannan fight over his affair. Shannan threatens to keep the kids away from him and tell everyone he knows what he did. He strangles her in a rage; red lights fill the room. The strangulation lasts a long time and it is uncomfortable to watch. (This depiction is a fabrication of the writers and is not in line with Chris Watt’s confession.) He then drives Shannan’s body with the girls crying in the truck. He kills his daughters and throws them in the tank. (We thankfully don’t get reenactments of this. Just a tight shot on Chris recalling what he did and saying he wishes he could take it back, but he can’t.)
Chris is currently serving five life sentences without the possibility of parole for the murder of Shanann Watts, Bella Watts, Celeste Watts, and Nico Lee Watts.
Minority Report: Nikki
I’m surprised to see Hallmark Vet Ashley Williams take on a darker movie. Good for her!
The Watts family murders occurred on the early morning of August 13, 2018, in Frederick, Colorado, US. While being interviewed by police, Christopher Lee Watts admitted to killing his pregnant wife, Shan’ann Cathryn Watts, by strangulation.
I thought this movie was well produced and acted, but I am disappointed that Shanann Watt’s family was not involved with this production.
“Lambert says the family was caught off guard by previews for the movie at home over the holidays.
“It’s been hard for them because they’ve been seeing those depictions, those advertisements, during the holiday season,” said Lambert. “And they want people to know that at least from the trailers they’ve seen; it’s not an accurate portrayal of their daughter, of their grandchildren, or even of Chris Watts himself.”
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime