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This post deals with graphic descriptions of violence and will not be suitable for all readers.
Most true crime documentaries follow a familiar trope.
In the opening minutes, a detective, or a reporter, or a family member of the victim, speaks straight to the camera.
They talk about the case with a level of detachment and reflection that only comes from time and distance.
They've had time to grieve and process what happened to their loved one. The detective has gone over the facts time and time again. The reporter knows the story like the back of their hand.
WATCH: The trailer for Netflix's American Murder: The Family Next Door. Post continues below...
The unimaginable crime happened five, 10, 30 years ago and they've had time to distance themselves from the fresh horror of it all.
Netflix's newest true crime offering, American Murder: The Family Next Door, is different.
It uses police bodycam footage, recordings from the interview room, and snippets from Facebook to plunge us straight into the middle of the Watts family murders.
The documentary begins with the police arriving at the home of Chris and Shanann Watts and their two young daughters, Celeste and Bella, in Frederick, Colorado, on the morning of August 13, 2018.
Nickole Atkinson, a friend of Shanann, had called the police as she hadn't heard from her and she was concerned for her welfare.
Through bodycam footage, we see the police and Nickole and her partner peering through the windows of the house, looking for any signs of distress.
They're just about to open the garage when Chris arrives home. He jogs into the garage and opens the front door.
While the police and the friends search the house, Chris casually answers their questions.
He says the girls' blankies are gone, and they'd never sleep without them. He seems as confused as Nickole when they discover Shanann's phone sitting on the bannister at the top of the stairs.