I love Unsolved Mysteries. I love the original episodes (Robert Stack is my MAN), the podcast, the Netflix reboot… All of it. I love it.
When I learnt that the show had turned some of its segments into TV movies, it was Christmas and my birthday all in one. Even better? They’re free on one of FilmRise’s YouTube channels. Typically I’d save this for Made for TV March, but I’ll be damned if I wait a year to watch these!
Voice from the Grave tells the sort-of true story of a young singer and nurse named Terry. One night she’s brutally murdered by an unseen man. The death is traumatic, and while it happens, one of her coworkers sees visions of the act. This coworker, Renee, soon finds herself at the centre of a series of unexplained events.
Following Terry’s death, Renee sees further visions of what happened that night. They unsettle both her and her husband, Bill. One day, she eventually sees the killer’s face and realises the killer is Adam, who works at the same hospital as Renee, Terry and Bill.
Renee accidentally gives away that she knows that Terry is the killer. He’s astounded that she knows but tries his best to make her look incompetent and ‘crazy’.
Through Renee, Terry conveys a message to Bill that she wants the couple to go to the police. Bill seems certain that his wife is mentally sound, but is clearly reluctant to let other people judge her for it.
Eventually, they decide to the police. Detective Stachula isn’t entirely convinced by their story until Renee reveals a vital clue kept from the public: Terry wasn’t sexually assaulted during the crime. He looks into Adam and learns that the man both had a rap sheet and lived close to Terry.
When Renee reveals another important clue, it’s up to the police to handle it in a way that will get Adam prison time. But can they do it? Will Adam walk free or will Renee’s story and Terry’s words mean more?
This case reminded me of Arne Cheyenne Johnson case in some ways. Can the spiritual world provide compelling evidence in a court of law? It turns out it can.
The movie itself is okay. What sets it apart is the fact that it’s based on a truly unusual and unexplained case. It remains mostly faithful to the facts of the case. What really happened that led to ‘Renee’ knowing the facts of ‘Terry’s’ murder?
Sometimes the film tries to utilise a faux documentary style where some of the characters speak to the camera as if being interviewed. It’s used too infrequently that it’s jarring and not at all successful.
There were changes made from the original story, perhaps to protect the people involved, but more than likely to just get a white cast. Victim Teresita Basa was originally from the Philippines, as was Remy Chua, who helped solve the case. It was a shame that their stories were whitewashed. Many of the details, however, remained the same. Allan Showery moonlighted as a TV repair man and was eventually caught thanks to the tips from Remy Chua.
There are books that cover this case, and they’re probably (hopefully) a bit more faithful to the true story than this film. TV movies ultimately have to be entertaining, which therein lies the problem of making someone’s pain and grief “entertainment”.