If you scroll through motivational speakers and videos on social media or look for “ways of living a healthy life,” you might have come across the fifteen-minute-long videos of “Dhar Mann Studios.” The reason we are talking about the videos is that “Engaged to be Murdered” seems like an extended video of the same. Imagine an elite household where there is a handsome man who takes over the family business, a beautiful widowed mother (who obviously has toxic attachment issues with her son), and an uncle, either paternal or maternal (who can be distant too). This sums up the lead actor’s family background. Now add a young, independent, and successful woman from a broken middle-class family as the love interest of the son of the family. Initially, everyone would hate her because the lead character (the son) would have an ex-girlfriend who was loved by all. Eventually, everyone will discover how good the woman (the new girlfriend) is, and then the typical fairytale will end. But the director, Keegan Connor Tracy, wanted an open-ended film, and thus we see the ex-girlfriend fantasizing over her marriage, which highlights that there might be an impending danger. The film vehemently fails to create an impact. The character build-up falls flat, and it is mostly like watching a Christmas themed movie with a failed dark twist. Nonetheless, here is everything you need to know about the storyline and the ending.
Welcome To The Family
The film opens by introducing us to Mrs. Amanda Finley (Sarah-Jane Redmond), a widowed woman whose husband owns a million-dollar company. Her son Jack (Madison Smith) was away for eleven months in Singapore, where he was heading their company. Mrs. Finley’s brother, Victor (Mark Humphrey), is also an integral part of the company. The sister-brother duo seemed excited and pretty tensed about Jack, who is rumored to be dating a girl from their office. We are also introduced to Amanda’s house help, who says that she will always be with her.
Soon we are introduced to Jack and his girlfriend, Olivia (Erin Boyes). Not to mention, Amanda disapproves of her immediately and thinks of her as a threat. We rediscover Amanda as a toxic and overprotective maternal figure, as her son admits in one of his conversations with his uncle, Victor. Jack says that ever since his father died, Amanda has been treating him like a teenager and is obsessing over him growing up to be able to make his own decisions. Amanda did not even try to hide her feelings for Olivia on the occasions that they met.
Olivia was in two minds about meeting her future mother-in-law the way she did. Jack brought her home as a surprise and announced that they wanted to be married. Obviously, any overprotective mother would not approve. However, Olivia seemed to be a nice woman who would try her best to win over her in-laws. Unfortunately, the audience knew that Olivia would not be able to put the bell on the cat. Amanda met her close friend Caroline (Tanis Dolman), who was also the mother of Jack’s ex-girlfriend Rachel (Veronica Cormier). Amanda tried to pursue Caroline to let their children meet and give them a chance to reconcile their relationship and showed concern about Olivia and her interests. Caroline seemed to be a sensible person, she advised Amanda not to meddle in her son’s personal life. But she kept updating her daughter Rachel about every little gossip she found out from Amanda. Amanda was so disillusioned that she hired a private investigator to monitor every move of Olivia, to set her up and break her relationship with Jack.
Murder Motives And Danger
From the first day that Olivia moved into her apartment, she felt that there was someone who was invading her privacy. On numerous occasions, she thought someone was there. She was startled by one of the tenants, who was seeing himself out of the apartment. Olivia discovered that about a million dollars were being embezzled from Jack’s company, and she kept digging into it. Soon, someone breaks into her apartment in the wee hours and transfers data from her phone. Olivia, although she did not see anybody, felt violated and informed Jack about the same. However, one fine night, Olivia was attacked by an intruder who tried to choke her to death. Fortunately, she was taken to the hospital and was under treatment. But only one attack and one instance of a near-death experience would not justify the title of the film, right? So, the audience is presented with someone who tried to poison Olivia by injecting a foreign drug into her saline bag. However, the nurse on duty found it, and Olivia escaped death for a second time.
As the investigation began, Olivia obviously suspected her would-be mother-in-law, Amanda, and asked the investigating officer to look into her. Olivia was shown footage of the night, and there she discovered that the entity was wearing a scarf that she knew Amanda had. As the officer called Amanda in and showed her the video footage of someone breaking into Olivia’s room at the hospital, she discovered the scarf that made Olivia suspicious. As the officer leaves, Olivia tells Jack about the suspicious transactions and asks him to look into the matter immediately.
Amanda was the prime suspect, but she was out because there was no concrete evidence against her. Her friend Caroline came to visit her. Caroline seemed to be worried about everything that was going on with Amanda. But soon, we discover Caroline sliding the scarf (that was identified as Amanda’s) into Amanda’s bag. As Amanda confronts her, Caroline confesses that she tried to poison Olivia because they both wanted Jack and Rachel to have a second chance. Amanda was scared and said she would never want Olivia dead just because she disapproved of her. As Amanda went ahead to call the police, Caroline grabbed her from behind, and they got into a fight. Fortunately, the house help arrives and pushes Caroline down the stairs, saving Amanda’s life.
Olivia And Her Secrets
Olivia seemed to be a decent girl who was distant from her family. On her first meeting with Amanda, she said that she was an only child. But later, the private investigator found that she was secretly meeting a boy. He clicked numerous pictures of them together. Amanda thought sending the pictures over to Jack was a great decision, for that would break them apart. But while Jack confronted Olivia, she said that the man was her younger brother and a drug addict. Thus, Olivia’s family cut him off. However, her brother, who has now been sober for over a year, was trying to reconcile with his sister. Jack offered him a job at his company. The private investigator seemed like a much-needed intervention to fix Olivia’s family.
‘Engaged To Be Murdered’ Ending: Unsatisfactory Twist
Before the photographs of Olivia and her brother got to Jack, he was informed by Rachel about the private investigator. Jack was furious at his mother, but as soon as he discovered the truth about Olivia’s secret, he was relieved. In the meantime, Amanda and Caroline had their fight, and the duo (Jack and Olivia) rushed towards Amanda’s house. The mother and son reconcile their relationship, and Amanda apologizes to Olivia for secretly spying on her. Victor comes in and congratulates Olivia for drawing attention to the fund embezzlement, and the family finally seems to be happy with Jack’s choice of life partner. Soon, Jack takes Olivia to meet Rachel. Rachel seemed genuinely sorry for what her mother had done and congratulated the couple on their forthcoming wedding. This could have been the end of the film; however, the director planned otherwise.
We watch the camera focus on timid legs that did a happy walk as they entered a room and stood in front of what appeared to be a wedding gown. As the camera then focuses on wedding rings. You may think it’s Olivia, but as the camera zooms out, we see Rachel. She seemed to be obsessed with Jack and was planning to ruin the wedding. The film ends, leaving the audience in sheer disappointment.
This could be an interesting twist if there had been a little more digging into Rachel’s character before. As it is not a series, introducing someone so late into the movie adds dissatisfaction instead of interest. Also, by the end of the film, we are sure that people who are close to the Finley family are all going through certain mental issues that they do not address. The film seemed to lack any potential to unleash darker motives. Rachel’s introduction at the end appeared to be the final failed attempt to create a dark love story.