Review by James Lindorf
There are a handful of things that are distinctly American. Baseball and apple pie are the most cited elements, but there is another more sinister phenomenon that helps define America, the serial killer. The U.S. is credited with having had over 3,200 serial killers throughout history. The country in second place is England, with a staggering 166. Zodiac, Green River, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, Richard Ramirez have all demanded the country’s attention but perhaps none more than Ted Bundy. The “golden age of serial killers” ran from 1970 to the early ’90s, and Bundy was its king. As far as we know, Bundy began his killing spree in the early 70s, if not before, and was executed in 1989. Since then, there have been at least nine movies made about the charismatic killer. The latest iteration Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman, will be released by Dark Star Pictures on VOD and DVD in the U.S. on September 3rd.
While they didn’t end up distributing the film “American Boogeyman,” screams Lifetime movie or Investigation Discovery mini-series. In this version, Bundy (Chad Michael Murray) is treated as a specter roaming the highways from the Pacific Northwest to Florida. Instead, most of the focus is centered on detective Kathleen McChesney (Holland Roden), the lone female officer working out of the Seattle Police Department, and rookie FBI profiler Robert Ressler (Jake Hays). The chase would launch McChesney’s career into a new orbit that would end with her being named the executive assistant director for Law Enforcement Services. The highest rank ever held by a woman in the FBI. The production values are low, but the writing has its moments. Still, it cant be classified higher than rough around the edges and suffers from a lack of commitment.
It appears that director Daniel Farrands wanted to make an investigation-heavy film but was unwilling to focus entirely on the cops. Instead, it is a 60-40 split with us frequently watching Bundy select his next potential victim. Murray, best known as a teenage heartthrob on “One Tree Hill,” is surprisingly good as Bundy. He has the looks and charm to play a perfect Bundy, but it is in the moments when a victim gets away and his frustrations bubble to the surface that he shines. In those moments, he reminded me of fan-favorite actor Michael Shannon who is known for his intensity. Roden, as Kathleen, brings a fierce no-nonsense attitude when she is leading the team tracking Bundy. For some reason, Murray spends most of the movie with a sizeable 70s era mustache even though Bundy was typically depicted as clean-shaven. That and many other minor changes like giving Kathleen credit for coining the phrase “serial killer” when it was actually Ressler makes you question the integrity of the rest of the film’s claims about these actual events.
It is hard to say who the intended audience for “American Boogeyman” is. It is too nonchalant with the liberties it takes with its story for the ID channel and too violent for Lifetime. However, it isn’t violent enough for gorehounds looking for the depravity of what Bundy did to his victims. Visually, it is too amateurish and too experimental for the average viewer to get lost in the presented story. It will find a home with people who binge every true-crime podcast or love everything serial killers. Still, its inconsistent construction makes “Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman” a 1.5 out of 5.
Genre: Crime, Drama
Original Language: English
Director: Daniel Farrands
Producer: Lucas Jarach
Writer: Daniel Farrands
Release Date: September 3rd
Runtime: 1h 50m
Distributor: Fathom Events
Production Co: Green Light Pictures
Check out interview with director Daniel Farrands and star Holland Roden below.
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