‘Under The Bridge’ True Story Explained: Did Warren Glowatski Kill Reena Virk?


Created by Quinn Shepherd, Under the Bridge, Hulu’s latest crime series, documents the real-life case that shook the entire Vancouver Island and became the news of national interest because people had never seen or heard something of that sort. The series is based on the real-life murder case of Reena Virk (Vrittika Gupta), though there are certain creative liberties taken by the makers in order to dramatize the narrative and make it more intriguing. The series is based on the novel written by Rebecca Godfrey and the crime was so gruesome that the writer felt compelled to write about and understands how it could have happened in a civil society.

Kelly Ellard (Izzy J.) and Warren Glowatski (Javon Wanna Walton) were the prime accused in the case, and they were supported by a few other girls from the former’s batch. Firstly, it is necessary to understand what happened with Reena Virk and why she became a target on November 14th, 1997. Reena’s family had migrated to Canada from India, and she had a hard time mingling with the students in her school. She also had to face a lot of racism at the hands of her white colleagues. I don’t believe in stereotyping, but I do believe in the law of majoritarianism. People always have the defense that not all white people are bad, and I wholly agree with this viewpoint. But the fact remains that it’s very rare that a white person would have to face racism at the hands of another community. Yes, I agree that humans have a tendency to be condescending towards anyone who does not resemble them.

Now, by resemblance, I don’t mean the way a person looks; it also extends to what your belief system is, which god you worship, what attire you wear, and what cultural heritage you come from. Words like diversity and inclusiveness look good in history and civics books. But when it comes to real life, the state of things is quite different, and I must add that it is far from ideal. That girl had to face so much because she was of a certain race, and just think about the impact that would have had on that tender mind after that. In Rebecca Godfrey’s novel, she mentioned how the teenager resorted to all sorts of coping mechanisms because she just didn’t feel welcomed, and in fact, she was made to feel like her existence was a big mistake. Ellard, together with other girls, found baseless reasons to accuse Reena of being a snitch, a gossip monger, and a thief. The poor girl was murdered under the CraigFlower Bridge, and her dead body was found by the authorities eight days later. Just writing these words sends shivers down my spine, and I can’t even imagine what would have happened to Reena’s parents, Manjit and Suman Virk after they learned about the incident. Just think about a family that moves out of their native land in search of a better life and gets treated in this manner. I can’t even say that I understand how they would have felt and how they would have endured all that pain and found a reason to carry on with their lives. 

On that fateful day, the girls started assaulting Reena, and soon, she realized that her life was in danger. She tried to escape, but the girls caught her and brought her back under the bridge. 17-year-old Warren Glowatski came out of nowhere and started thrashing the poor girl. We say that because he was not a part of the group, according to reports that were available online. He had no direct motive to come and join the girls and thrash Reena, but he did, and there were a lot of theories after that that tried to explain why he would have done so. Warren had a difficult childhood, and it could be said that he derived a lot of sadistic pleasure from kicking and slapping Reena. He was so apathetic in his approach that the next day, he just walked casually and got his trousers washed, as there was Reena’s blood on them. Ellard wanted to show the world how cool she was and what she was capable of doing. And so she stood there emphatically, holding a cigarette in her mouth while pushing Reena’s head inside the water body with her leg. When, after eight days, the body was found, and confessions were made, the entire society went into a state of shock. This crime proved that there was something really wrong with the way those children were being brought up. Maybe it was past traumas, maybe it was what they saw around them, or maybe it was any other reason, but teenagers showing such violent behavior were unheard of. 

Glowatski got a life sentence of 7 years after which he was eligible to ask the court to grant him parole, as at the time he committed the crime, he was a minor. Glowatski was released in 2010, and what is to be noticed here is that Manjit and Suman didn’t challenge the parole, and they even wished Glowatski the best in his future endeavors. After many mistrials, Ellard was finally convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 7 years. She got her parole in 2017, changed her name, and later had kids, too. Manjit Virk wrote a book to express what he felt when he heard about his daughter’s demise and how his world got shattered overnight for no rhyme or reason. His book is called Reena: A Father’s Story and it makes us privy to his narrative and how the family endured those turbulent times. It would be quite interesting to see how the Hulu series, Under the Bridge, executes the story and if it is able to recreate the entire scenario in an equally impactful way. By looking at the trailer, I can safely say that the series seems to have a lot of potential, and I believe the makers would have done an exceptional job of shedding light on the case that shook Canadian society.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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