'Her Secret Family Killer' takes a long, unsystematic route to give you a lackluster murder mystery
On Sarah’s birthday, her best friend Victoria gives her a genetic testing kit as a gift, so she can learn more about her family’s lineage but then Victoria ends up dead. So who's the killer?
This review contains major spoilers for the Lifetime movie 'Her Secret Family Killer'
Sarah (Brooke Nevin) and Will (Darin Brooks) lost their parents to a freak accident several years ago. The void they left could never be fulfilled. Now, years since the accident, Will and Sarah are living seemingly normal lives - managing a family-run homemade ice cream store, getting together for birthdays, celebrating the smallest of accomplishments surrounded by family. But the brother-sister duo wishes they had their parents around.
On one such birthday, Sarah receives a genetic testing kit from her closest friend Victoria (Carmen Moreno). The kit is supposed to bring her closer to those she has lost and find out more about her genealogy. But that same night, Victoria is tragically murdered by asphyxiation and left in the woods. Her body cannot be found anywhere and the police have almost given up hope. Victoria's detective husband Roger (Matt Shevin) doesn't seem like he has his head in the game - he is too close to the case to be investigating it.
With the case going cold, Roger happens to find a clue linking the killer's DNA to the genealogy test that Sarah did. And now they must race against time to find the real identity of the killer before he goes on a rampage. But it is already too late as there are more people killed in the pursuit of Victoria's killer, who always seems to be one step ahead of them.
Early on, Will plants the idea in Sarah's mind that Roger might have something to do with the murder. But somehow, suspicion against Will is insurmountable - he starts acting out of character, is quickly agitated, has her earring on the floor of his bathroom. All things point out to the possibility that Will has murdered her - not the possibility that he could be having an affair with his sister's best friend who, everyone knew, was in an unhappy marriage with Roger.
Now with evidence against Will, Roger can arrest him and wrongly hold him in a correctional facility. And somehow, Roger is the only detective at the police station to work the case - like the authorities thought nothing wrong with having the supposedly grieving husband work the case.
The movie feels convoluted by taking a long route to get to the point. The sheer number of red herrings is enough to turn you off. Apart from Will, Lyle (Devin Crittenden) is another cousin the movie tries hard to frame, but it is more than just evidence that he is a red herring.
As it turns out, Sarah and all the relatives murdered and/ or threatened, were a part of Roger's elaborate plan to successfully eradicate a cheating wife and blame it on the lover. Played by Matt Shevin, Roger is the most empty-headed portrayal of a killer you have seen on television. Shevin may have tried to amp up the coldness of a killer but what he ended up doing was playing a vacuous carcass of one.
Watching the Lisa France directorial or 'DNA Killer' as it was previously titled, is like watching a really vexed 17-year-old work out a puzzle. Brooke Nevin as Sarah is more exasperated that she has to go through this ordeal than being scared for her life. We reckon too many red herrings, an obvious plotline and an oblivious protagonist is not the best mix for a murder mystery.
The movie premiered on Lifetime on February 16 at 8/7c