A Murder to Remember (2020 Lifetime)
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Inspired by Ann Rule’s true crime collection Empty Promises. Javier (Kevin Rodriguez) and Robin Rivera (Maddie Nichols) are celebrating their one-year anniversary on a camping trip. But when Javier ends up dead, Robin finds herself alone in the rough wilderness. She accepts help from another camper, a mysterious stranger named Sam (TC Matherne), and slowly places her life in his hands. But is Sam there to protect Robin? Or does she need protection from him?
A man drives a woman in a truck while promising to make things alright. The walk into a police station and the woman, Robin, reports that her husband has been shot. The man that is with her is named Dam, and he has a nasty cough. Robin tries to explain what happened but is clearly in distress. The Sheriff questions her alone.
As Robin explains, we flashback and see her on a camping trip driving through the woods with her husband, Javier. Javier gifts Robin some toilet paper and a cross necklace. Robin seems more excited for the TP, honestly. They plan to celebrate their first anniversary and dream of their future together. It is cute. They set up camp and don’t even have a tent. The couple doesn’t need it because they have their dreams of the future,
While fishing, Robin takes a nap and when she wakes up, Javier is missing. She wonders through the woods and runs into Sam, whose truck is stuck in the mud. Javier and Robin help him get his vehicle unstuck, and Sam invites them to a secret fishing spot he knows about. They follow Sam in their car and get lost. They decide to make camp on the side of the road with Sam.
When Sam sees a deer, he grabs his shotgun and runs after it. Javier follows, leaving Robin trailing behind. She hears a gunshot and is horrified to find her husband shot and killed. Robin cries next to his body and runs through the woods to escape from Sam.
Back in the present day, Robin’s mother, Celeste, is called to the station. Her mother (played by the reliable Carolyn McCormick) meets Sam and is disturbed by his cough and overprotectiveness. When Robin returns home, he is traumatized and barricades her self in her room. Robin wakes up the next day and asks her mother if it was all a dream. Sadly it was not. Robin has flashbacks to her time in the woods and screams, “Stop it” repeatedly. She has PTSD.
The Sherriff submits Sam to a lie detector test. He passes and is released from police custody. Robin and her mother head back to the station, and Robin makes a statement that she was held captive for five days in the woods after Sam shot her husband. Robin struggles to remember exactly what happened.
Next, we flashback to when Sam and Robin in the woods after the murder. Robin tries to run from Sam but is overpowered by him. He lies and tells her that he works for a secret government program and promises to protect her. Robin recalls this on a lie detector and fails. On their way home, Robin acts extremely paranoid. She thinks someone is following them and is going to kill them. Celeste is very concerned about her daughter and gives her an inspiring speech.
The Sheriff finally looks into Sam’s criminal record and finds a slew of charges. (Why this wasn’t done before the lie detector test, I’ll never know.) She shares the info with Robin and Celeste at Javier’s funeral. (Which seems like bad timing.)
Javier’s parents visit Robin and demand to know how their son died. Robin tells them that he was murdered, and she is having trouble remembering the details. They blame her for the murder, and she accepts that responsibility. Robin gives Ana back the necklace that Javier gave her. (The toilet paper she kept for herself.)
Robin finally gets herself into a therapy session to help with her memory. As she falls deep into a sense memory recall, the movie flashes back to the woods. Sam forces Robin to strip naked by a lake and wash her husband’s blood off her body while he watches. He holds Robin at knifepoint and tells her that he wants to be with her. He kisses her and then rapes her. The abuse continues over and over at his makeshift campsite in the middle of the woods. It is alarming.
The therapist determines that Robin suffered from Stockholm Syndrome and had a long road to recovery. The Sheriff knows she has her work cut out for her and says that she at least has the truth on her side. Sam also has some help; he hires a prominent shot lawyer and maintains his innocence.
Sam stalks Robin, and she decides not to testify against him. Three months later and no trial. Celeste encourages her daughter to go back to work and start her life again. Robin even plans on going to nursing school. Sam won’t let Robin forget about him and confronts her in an alley. He tells her that her memories are wrong, and he claims to love her still.
The Sheriff puts Robin and Celeste in a motel with an armed police car. She promises to keep them safe and encourages Robin to testify. Celeste tells her daughter, “Take your power back, baby!” (It s great.) The Sheriff arrests Robin and finds a shrine Sam made for Robin.
Robin does take her power back. She visits Javier’s grave and says that she is scared to testify but will fight for him and herself. She puts Sam in jail for the rest of his life.
Ann Rule was a true crime author and New York Times Bestseller. Thirty-Five New York Times Best-Sellers. Her books docus on true crime stories and she dedicated her life to advocating for victims. She passed away in 2015.
This movie was directed by Robin Givens, which is very cool. She is perfect for the Lifetime brand and nailed the genre.
Minority Report: Javier, Emiliano, Ana, Ed, Sheriff’s secretary,
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*Photo Credit: © 2020 Lifetime
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