Murdaugh Murders: The Movie – Part 1 (2023 Lifetime)
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Director: Greg Beeman
Writer: Michael Vickerman
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Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Murdaugh Murders: The Movie follows the twisted true story of Alex Murdaugh played by award-winning actor Bill Pullman, who was found guilty in the double homicide of his wife, Maggie and his son, Paul. For over 100 years, the wealthy and powerful Murdaugh Family were a local dynasty in the South Carolina low country, where they oversaw the prosecution of all criminal cases in the state’s 14th circuit district. But behind all the power, black ties, and fancy dresses Alex had many secrets… Even with all of Alex’s influence, he couldn’t prevent The Murdaugh Family’s legacy from being tarnished after Paul was involved in a boating accident that left a young girl dead. While Maggie was consumed with what was happening with Paul, Alex was hiding his addiction to opioids and stealing insurance settlements from his own clients to fund his habit and the family’s lavish lifestyle. Then in June 2021, Maggie and Paul were found murdered and eyes began to turn to Alex. The bizarre story continued when Alex was nearly shot in the head and his indiscretions and lies began to surface, leading to the eventual unraveling of Alex Murdaugh’s once charmed life.
Obviously, this is based on a well-known and highly documented true crime story.
The movie wastes no time depicting the murders of Paul Murdaugh and his mother, Margaret Murdaugh, who were shot at close range by a shotgun. Alex Murdaugh, played here by Bill Pullman, finds the bodies and calls the police. He is quickly arrested and thrown in a jail cell as the title card fades in.
The movie cuts to three years earlier, at a gala in Charleston, SC, where Alex Murdaugh is the toast of the town (in everyone’s eyes except his father’s). They are from a long line of wealthy lawyers and are an influential family in town. Maggie Murdaugh is the envy of the other women, and Paul Murdaugh gets a brand-new car for a present.
Alex Murdaugh works in a downtown office and pops Oxycontin on his way to work for fun! He takes the easy cases at work and is an embarrassment to his father. Even so, Alex Murdaugh seems to have his way in court by schmoozing with the judge. He also throws his weight around to get Paul out of trouble when drunk driving.
The pill addiction is pretty serious, and Alex Murdaugh owns some shady characters’ money to keep his habit going. His son Paul finds some bills in his dad’s office and blackmails his father with the information. The father and son come to an understanding that they also love going shooting together with insane-looking guns.
The family has money troubles, and Alex Murdaugh steals from his client. Maggie notices checks are bouncing and asks her husband about it over some fried chicken, which their know-it-all housekeeper Gloria makes. The marriage is tense and loveless.
Gloria, the housekeeper, has an accident on the front steps and falls, hitting her head. Maggie finds her and calls 911. The police interview Alex Murdaugh, and he tells them that Gloria told him she tripped over one of the dogs, which was a terrible accident. Maggie is the only family member to visit Gloria in the hospital before she dies.
At Gloria’s funeral, Alex Murdaugh tells her son Tony to sue his insurance and NOT him. He promises to care for them because Gloria means a lot to the family. Maggie thinks it is strange of her husband to give that advice, especially since there is no autopsy or investigation into Gloria’s death. Alex creates a shady bank account to put the money from Gloria’s settlement- all 4.3 million dollars.
Paul borrows his father’s boat and goes out with his friends for a night of drinking. His friends offer to take the boat home instead, but Paul insists on drunk driving- and driving recklessly. The accident is with a bridge, and Mallory Beach ends up missing and later is presumed dead. Paul doesn’t seem the least bit remorseful.
At the hospital, Alex Murdaugh tries to narrate the story he wants to tell, making it so other kids take the fall for his son’s mistakes. He starts a rumor that Connor is the boat’s driver. Later, Alex Murdaugh sits in on Paul’s questioning by the police detectives. Paul’s blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit the night of the accident. It doesn’t matter because Alex Murdaugh pulls strings to make it disappear. Paul gets leniency from the court and a slap on the wrist.
The evidence proves that Paul was driving, and Alex Murdaugh’s dad is pissed that he can’t even cover up his son’s accident correctly—the judgment and pressure cause Alex Murdaugh to take even more pills. He takes out his aggression on a sidepiece, and when she fights back, he has Maggie patch up his wounds.
The boat accident case goes to trial, and Paul pleads not guilty. Public opinion has changed, and the Murdoch family is seen for who they are for the first time- nepotism at its worst. Alex Murdaugh blames his son and beats him up for ruining the family’s reputation.
Maggie does some typical Lifetime Movie snooping, but this time, the female isn’t the protagonist; she is the soon-to-be victim. She isn’t the only one onto Alex Murdaugh. Gloria’s sons hire a lawyer and learn that a settlement was awarded to them months ago, but they never received it.
After 27 years together, Maggie decides she has had enough. She packs a bag and tells her husband she wants to head to the beach house. Alex Murdaugh tries to stop her, and she considers staying if he tells her the truth. However, it isn’t something that Alex Murdaugh is capable of. Maggie takes herself and Paul to get away from the madness.
Everything is catching up with Alex Murdaugh. The money he owes, the money he has stolen, the pills, and his father is on his deathbed. He asks Paul and Maggie to join him. for dinner, and it is then, says the movie, he plots to kill his family for insurance money.
In the final moments of part one, the movie recreates the scene of the murder in detail. It is difficult to watch, knowing that it happened. It is violent and bloody. It gave me the heebie jeebies.
Side Note/Stray Thoughts
Is it wrong that I thought the craziest thing about this movie was Alex Murdaugh taking all those pills WITHOUT WATER?!?!
I’m not sure if knowing the case beforehand is helpful for viewing this movie. It might be more shocking to go in blind.
Numbers of Kills: 🔪🔪🔪🔪🔪 (5 knives)
Enjoyment Level (1-5 scale)
🍷🍷🍷🍷 (4 Glasses of Wine)
Should you watch it?
Pour it up! (Give it a shot)
Put a Cork in It (Skip It)
What did you think of the movie? Let me know in the comments or on social media @LifetimeUncorked & @patrickmiguel
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*Photo Credit: © 2023 Lifetime® | A+E Networks®