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14 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

And she was once the star of "Chinatown" and "Network".......

Author: James Hitchcock from Tunbridge Wells, England
31 December 2010

I am not familiar with the facts of the case upon which "Escape from Harm" is supposedly based, but given the normal track record of both Hollywood and the American television industry in dealing with allegedly true stories it is a fair assumption that they bore little resemblance to the story told here. The central character is Anna Morse, the mother of three young daughters, who has recently left her violent husband and moved into a new house. At first it seems that her new next door neighbours Garret and Donna James are friendly and caring, but it quickly becomes clear that they are nothing of the sort. In fact, they are a couple of psychopaths who kidnap Anna's two youngest daughters and then disappear. The rest of the film deals with Anna's increasingly desperate attempts to find her missing children.

The film overall suffers from a common fault with TV movies, emotional over-simplification. The story is presented from Anna's viewpoint as a simple tale of "plucky mom searches for missing kids" and ignores the complexities of the situation, even potentially interesting ones. I wanted to know just why Anna and her mother Ellen appear not only to be estranged from one another but to come from quite different social backgrounds. Anna, as played by Nicolette Sheridan, seems to be from a typical blue-collar working-class background whereas Faye Dunaway's Ellen appears bourgeois and genteel. If the cause of their estrangement was a rebellion on Anna's part against her mother's middle-class values, his is never made clear.

I would also have been more interested in the film had it tried to explain just why the Jameses (especially Garret, by far the stronger character) acted as they did, but unfortunately it simply takes the view that they are evil nut jobs, and as evil nut jobs are simply a malign force of nature they don't have motivations which can be rationally explained.

I watched this movie when it was recently shown on British television, largely because of the presence of Faye Dunaway, but in many ways it illustrates how her career has gone downhill since her heyday. I am unsure whether the cause of this decline is the oft-made assertion that Hollywood does not provide enough leading roles for older women (although this doesn't seem to have held back her contemporary Meryl Streep) or whether Dunaway is correct in her belief that her career as a leading lady was permanently damaged by the failure of "Mommy Dearest" in 1981, but it seems indisputable that since the eighties she has been unable to command roles of the quality that she could in the late sixties and seventies. Watching this dull, pedestrian TV movie it was difficult to believe that she was once the star of major films as good as "Bonnie and Clyde", "Chinatown" and "Network". 4/10

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17 out of 23 people found the following review useful:

Incredible Movie, Incredible Reality

Author: Jennie ( from Delaware, USA
15 December 2002

I truly enjoyed this movie. It's absolutely unbelievable that this actually happened! As you sit watching the movie, you place yourself in the characters' places and wondering what you would do if this terrible story was happening to you. There's only so much that the police can do ... there's only so much that anyone can do. You never know who's living next-door. You can never tell who's psychotic or who has a few screws loose, and that's scary. This is a definite must-see for any diehard Lifetime viewer.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Dramatized but still very disturbing

Author: gasmaskproductionsbooks from Canada
7 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anna has three children and really loves them, but she's barely able to afford to take care of them, plus her domineering b!tch of a mother and an abusive ex-husband. When she moves into a new town she meets her charismatic next-door neighbors, Garrett and Donna.

Garrett and Donna begin spending more and more time with the three children, until one day Anna's worst nightmares come true... Sally and Billie have been kidnapped, and only Laura remains. Donna and Garrett turn out to be not so charming as Anna thought, and in truth they're master con artists... and what happened to their real daughter, Meghan? With the help of a caring police lieutenant and a friend from her mom's diner, Anna stops at nothing to find her children.

The People Next-Door is very disturbing, although highly dramatized. Garrett is downright creepy, the actor did a very good job at portraying such a corrupt man. I loved the 1990's-style soundtrack, movies today need soundtrack like this.

I really enjoyed this movie, for a Lifetime movie it was very well-done and a big improvement on some of the ones that have recently come out (2013).

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