“The Neighbor in the Window,” Lifetime’s newest “ripped from the headlines” movie shows just how hellish one’s life can become when a neighbor invades your space – both figuratively and literally.
Warning: Spoilers below.
The film follows Karen (Jamie-Lynn Sigler) as she and her family relocate to Washington for her husband’s new job. She falls in love with her new home, a beautiful house with large, impressive windows. However, this new dream life quickly morphs into a nightmare when the looming presence of her neighbor, Lisa (Jenn Lyon), is all that cascades into those large panes of glass.
At first, Lisa seems like a promising friend. But soon, Karen begins catching her in bizarre lies and copycat behavior. Karen confides in Lisa that she lost a baby, so Lisa immediately makes up a story that she also lost a child – even buying an identical version of the necklace Karen wears to commemorate her lost child. Lisa lies about various health conditions, claiming she had lupus and cancer. She even copies Karen’s car, her clothes and her desire to become a real estate agent.
Then, when Karen grows uncomfortable with Lisa’s behavior, Lisa’s tactics escalate. Lisa phones in false complaints that Karen is neglecting her son in an attempt to have him removed from her care. She even files for a restraining order against Karen that means Karen can't even hang out in her own backyard without violating it.
In the most dramatic move of all, she falsely accuses Karen of trying to mow her down with her car. This leads to a trial where Karen could have been convicted with attempted murder due to Lisa’s lies and fabricated victimization. Instead, it results in her acquittal.
This chilling tale, which airs Feb. 8 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime, is based on the 2010 psychological novel “False Victim,” by Kathie Truitt. While the book is presented as fiction, Truitt told Oxygen.com that nearly everything that happened to the book’s protagonist is exactly what happened to her.
Her author website states that the real-life events — becoming “the victim of a crazy neighbor lady that stalked them [her family] for 4 years” — forced her family to move to another country for their safety.
Truitt, like the actual victim in both the film and book, said her neighbor made up strange lies and copied her before falsely accusing Truitt of neglecting her son and later of trying to kill her. Truitt said she was charged with attempted murder and later acquitted, just like in the dramatization. Truitt told Oxygen.com that she genuinely thought she would end up in prison during the scary ordeal.
“She [her neighbor] lied better than I told the truth and I didn't believe I was going to get out of it,” Truitt told Oxygen.com.
Still, prison time was less frightening than the prospect of losing her son.
“The fact she tried to take my child is one thing that I don’t think I’ll ever get over,” she recalled.
Truitt said that while there are some incidental differences in the movie, most of the events are entirely based in reality.
If anything, the real back story was even more dramatic than the film and book, Truitt said.
“I focused on the most dramatic events," she said. "But in real life, there was something happening every day. There was no break.” The neighbor would often call the police to make up stories that Truitt attacked her, Truitt said.
“Other people thought I was jealous of her because she was pretty until they saw what was happening and then that changed,” Truitt, who was crowned Miss Missouri in 1996, told Oxygen.com. In the movie, Lisa’s husband accuses Karen – who was once homecoming queen – of causing friction between the neighbors because of her jealousy of Lisa’s good looks.
The identity of the real Lisa – or Lynn, her name in the book – has not been disclosed. But Truitt said she wasn't the first to fall victim to her stalking and strange behavior.
“I learned then that there had been other people who had left the neighborhood who were her victim and when the book came out I heard from other people who have seen her in action," the author said.
Truitt said that, to the best of her knowledge, the real Lisa has not been charged with perjury or any other crime related to this case.
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