Lifetime Film Review: Her Secret Family Killer (dir by Lisa France)


DNA Tests are all the rage right now.

Right now, everyone is taking them.  Most of them seem to be hoping that they’ll find something really unexpected and cool in their background, like that they’re descended from Tecumseh or somebody.  Personally, I’d love to discover that I am related to Rutherford B. Hayes, seeing as how he was the greatest president who ever lived.  Of course, then you have other people who are just hoping that a DNA test will somehow make them seem less generic.  “I’m 1.2% North African,” they’ll tell you, in-between posting Taylor Swift memes on twitter.

That said, everyone should approach DNA tests with caution.  First off, if you’ve ever taken a DNA test, that means that the government now has access to your DNA and can probably use it to clone a race of super soldiers or something.  That’s definitely one thing to consider.  There’s also the possibility that being goaded into taking a DNA test could end whatever hope you have of ever being elected President.  That’s another thing you have to consider.  And finally, there’s the possibility that your DNA will turn up on the dead body of your best friend!  Agck!

That’s exactly what happens to Sarah (Brooke Nevin) in Her Secret Family Killer.  Her best friend Victoria (Carmen Moreno) gives her a DNA test for her birthday.  Despite the protestations of Lyle (Devin Crittenden), who says that DNA tests are the first step towards dictatorship, Sarah gets the test done.  Later, Victoria disappears.  Sarah, while out on her morning run, just happens to stumble across Victoria’s dead body.  The police test the DNA that was on Victoria’s body and just guess whose DNA shows up.

That’s right!  Sarah’s!

But, surely, Sarah couldn’t be the murderer.  It must just be someone who shares Sarah’s DNA, like a family member.  So, which of Sarah’s relatives is the murderer?  Or, could it be that there’s something else going on?  I mean, seriously, when you’ve got DNA traveling all over the place, who knows who might be able to get their hands on it….

The best Lifetime films always strike at a secret fear that many people have but aren’t always willing to express.  Her Secret Family Killer is all about the fear that one of your relatives might be murderers and you might not know it.  I mean, it’s definitely possible.  Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, the Grim Sleeper, the Baseline Killer, the D.C. snipers, they all had families and they all had relatives who were probably shocked when cousin Ted ended up in jail, accused with murdering people across the country.  I mean, who knows what type of monsters you might have hiding in your family tree?  People take DNA tests assuming that they’ll discover they’re related to someone great.  What if you take your DNA test and discover that your great-uncle is the BTK Killer?  It could happen.

Anyway, Her Secret Family Killer is another entertaining Lifetime thriller.  Brooke Nevin has appeared in a few of these and she does a good job of embracing the melodrama, which is pretty much the key to making a good Lifetime film.  If nothing else, watching the film will make you think twice before sending your DNA off to strangers and that’s probably a good thing.

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