A Family Torn Apart (1993)

TV Movie  |   |  Crime, Drama, Horror  |  21 November 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.6/10 from 287 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

A teenage boy finds his mother and father murdered in their home but as the story goes on he reveals he knows more than he is letting on.



(book), (teleplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Hannigan
Daniel Hannigan
Maureen Hannigan
Joe Hannigan
Barbara Forester
Det. Stockman
Tim Kelleher ...
Det. Cahill
Ken Pierson
Tom Kelley
Larry Black ...
D.A. Norman Crowley
Liz Kelley
Kathy Larson ...
Lisa Kensington (as Catherine Larson)
Rosemary Newcott ...
Child Services Caseworker
Chris McKenzie ...
Brian - age 6


When young Brian Harrigan's adopted parents are found lying murdered in the basement, it's Brian's adopted brother Daniel that becomes the main suspect, based on the testimony of Brian and Daniel's kid brother Chris. But was it really Daniel he saw? As police investigation makes headway, slowly but surely an abysmal family drama unfolds. Written by sarah

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's no escape when the enemy is family See more »


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Release Date:

21 November 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Sudden Fury  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Operator: Hello. 911. What is your emergency? Hello? I'm sorry I can't hear you.
Brian: I think my parents are dead.
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User Reviews

Tense, gripping, well-executed mini-movie that rises above its tabloid trappings.
17 February 2002 | by (Los Angeles, California) – See all my reviews

There are precious few TV movies that remain indelibly etched in one's mind. After awhile they all seem to be the same routine stuff -- capitalizing on the same lurid titles, based on the same sordid headlines. But 1993's "A Family Torn Apart" stands apart from the rest of those violent-edged movies we usually witness. Superbly acted by young actors Neil Patrick Harris and Johnny Galecki who play half-brothers, this stark drama makes quite an impact, rising far above its potentially sensationalistic trappings. With taut, believable characters, knowing direction and a gripping storyline, we are presented with an "A" class bit of storytelling.

Both Harris (from "Doogie Houser") and Galecki (from "Roseanne") grab the opportunity to shed their earnest, amiable TV typecasts for once and immerse themselves completely into the minds of these two poor unfortunates. And as we witness, via family flashbacks, the harrowing pressure-cooker situations Brian and Daniel are forced to live under, we understand the "why" and the "how" of this tragic family occurrence.

John M. Jackson and Linda Kelsey give remarkable performances as ill-fated

Joe and Maureen Hannigan. By outward appearances, they appear to be stable, dedicated, church-going parents who have earned the respect of their flag-waving community by participating in selfless civic endeavors. But behind closed doors we get to see an entirely darker side.

Extremely strict, overbearing, eccentric and subject to religious fanaticism (she, in particular, shows warning signs of manic mental illness), their demands for perfection make life increasingly unbearable for quiet honor student Brian (Harris) and troubled, delinquent foster son Daniel (Galecki), especially as the latter gets into more and more trouble. And then one day, the parents are found savagely murdered in their home. Was it a random act of violence? Or did one of the boys go off the deep end and do it?

Bleak, depressing and often disturbing, "A Family Torn Apart" may cover familiar ground, but it covers it much better than most. Well, well above average. And like a bad accident, it's hard to look away from it.

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