Is There a Killer in My Family? (2020 Lifetime)
Cast: Anna Hopkins, Christopher Jacot, Alex Paxton-Beesley, Erin Agostino
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
True-crime author, Carly, and her husband Kevin take a much-needed vacation at Carly’s family’s historic mansion on Crawford Island. Kevin thinks the vacation will be a chance for them to reconnect, but Carly plans to research the mysterious unsolved murder of Dina Crawford, the subject of her next book. As she starts to unravel the truth, Carly begins to feel like she might be the next victim on this storied island.
Surprise! A woman is running and screaming for her life at the beginning of the movie. What is different this time is that she is in a nightgown and carrying a lantern! The location is a sleeping boating town with an Island named Crawford Island. (Like Joan Crawford? Well, actually, it is Dina Crawford who was murdered, but I’m pretending it is Joan Crawford. Legend has it; a shadowy figure strangled her to death.)
New Yorkers, Carly, and her husband Kevin are on their first vacation in a long time. Carly is having trouble unplugging and disconnecting and will be staying on the secluded Crawford Island in the ornate Crawford Manor. (Which is 100% haunted.) Carly writes true-crime thrillers, and Kevin is an actor. Carly is interested in the Crawford family because she is loosely related AND is interested in the cold case murder of Joan Crawford.
Kevin is upset he has been dupped into a work trip. Carly apologizes and pours him some wine they toast to Crawford Island. In the middle of the night, Carly begins to have nightmares about being attacked and awakens to wind howling. When she goes to investigate a banding sound, she steps on glass from a broken window, except none of the windows are broken.
Back on the mainland Carly meets the local librarian Mrs. Parmer who gives her lots of articles and books on the Crawford family. She looks a lot like Dina Crawford. Kevin catches Carly doing research a goes off on her. He wants her to stop writing true crime because the last family Carly wrote about attacked her with a crowbar. Things keep getting out of hand. The argument is interrupted by a superfan who stalked their location and wants an autograph. Kevin is enraged!
Another person who is pissed at Carly for researching the town is Kathy Bellak. She owns a store in town, and her mother knew Dina Crawford. After getting yelled at by Kathy, Carly runs into a nerdy-looking redhead named Lauren. Lauren lives on the neighboring island and tells her she will see Carly again, which means she will KILL HER. (Obviously.)
Kevin goes back to the city for an acting teaching job interview. Carly finds some old love letters; only they aren’t from Dina’s husband. They are from Carly’s great grandfather. As she reads the messages alone in Crawford Manor, Carly sees someone on the island and chances after them through the dark woods with a flashlight. (No lantern this time!) Disturbed, Carly goes to bed and has more terrible dreams about getting attacked. When she wakes up, she sees a picture of Dina Crawford turned upsidedown.
Lauren comes over to check on Carly in the morning. She noticed hearing some screams through the night and wanted to do a wellness check. Lauren invites herself in for coffee and tells Carly that she saw a woman wandering around Crawford Island in a white nightgown. They go to investigate the island but are interrupted by Kevin coming back. When Carly runs to Kevin to have him join them, Lauren disappears.
Kevin’s interview didn’t go well. It didn’t happen at all. His contact and the meeting didn’t exist. Someone is messing with them.
The mystery unravels when Carly learns that Dina was pregnant with her grandfather’s baby. Carly is sure that John Crawford killed his wife.
All that doesn’t matter really because Lauren has been living on the island in the guest house and is Ashley Norris. (The daughter of one of the subjects in Carly’s true crime novels.) Lauren/Ashley pulls out a knife, and Carly runs away. Lauren/Ashley calmly puts away the knife, grabs a gun then follows Carly into the main house.
Carly and Kevin hide in a closet. Lauren/Ashley does her villain monologue and implicates Kevin having an affair with her. Lauren/Ashley manipulated Kevin by pretending to be an acting student and seducing him in the act of revenge. Carly eventually knocks Lauren/Ashley out with a crowbar. (The Irony!) Kevin and Carly run down to the dock, but the boat is gone.
Lauren/Ashley wakes up and goes to the pier. She attacks Kevin and Carly again, but Carly takes her down. As Lauren/Ashley’s body lays lifeless on the ground, all Carly hears are the sounds of crashing waves. She holds injured Kevin in the dark.
Carly finishes solving the mystery. John Crawford swam to the island just like Lauren/Ashley and killed his wife. Carly forgives Kevin and agrees to go on a proper vacation soon.
Minority Report: Mrs. Palmer
The actor who played Kevin, Christopher Jacot, starred in Hallmark’s iconic When Sparks Fly featuring Meghan Markle!
The filming locations and cinematography in the movie were miles and miles ahead of any Lifetime movie I’ve seen so far this year.
Also known as Island of Shadows.
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime
If the murder occurred in 1937 and the current setting is present day Kathy’s mother couldn’t possibly have known Dina. Supposedly Kathy’s mother ran a store and Dina came in to buy a dress and that’s over 80 years ago from today. Somebody was not doing the math.
Where was this movie filmed?
Hi Audrey! Movie was filmed in Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada
This was one of the only times in Lifetime I fully haven’t believed any authorities would buy her “self-defense” story. Should’ve ended the movie in handcuffs.