Director – Paul Shapiro (The X-Files, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues)
Starring – Billy Campbell (Ghost Town, Lizzie Borden Took An Ax), Barbara Hershey (Insidious, The Entity), and Kevin Dunn (Transformers, Godzilla)
Release Date – 2003
Rating – 3.5/5
Blu Release – 2.5/5
Tagline – “The Ted Bundy story”
With October in full swing I’ve decided to put the exploitation and sleazy behind me for the time being and focus mainly on the horror to get in the Halloween spirit. I started the month with a little monster mayhem with Mothra and decided to follow it up with some true crime. Several months back Mill Creek Entertainment sent me the 2003 made for TV movie The Stranger Beside Me flick about Ted Bundy.
True crime is something I was really interested in when I was younger but Bundy was one that I just never found interesting. Regardless, the film was sent to me and I feel obligated to check it out. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it for what it was.
**Spoiler Alert**The film follows former cop and true crime author Ann Rule (Hershey) who met a young Ted Bundy while working for a suicide prevention hotline. When several women are found murdered she suspects that Ted may not be as innocent as he claims and over time it is revealed that he is in fact responsible for their deaths. She is tasked with writing a book about the murders and he leverages that with her while trying to convince her that he is innocent. As more and more evidence is piles against him he soon realizes that the hole he finds himself in is one he will never be able to climb out of. **Spoiler Alert**
I went into this one not expecting much but was greeted by a well polished and written crime thriller that was more entertaining than it had the right to be. I may not be interested in Ted Bundy but this film is one that I can highly recommend.
The acting in this one is the low point of the film. I struggled with the casting in this and how the characters felt more like a Hallmark Christmas movie instead of a true crime thriller centered around one of the most notorious serial killers in U.S. history. Bundy was an evil and manipulative man that worked women over in more than one way while soaking in the limelight. However, Campbell’s performance here made him look ignorant and clumsy that is extremely awkward with people. I just didn’t care for the casting here.
The story for this one is extremely interesting and every scene holds the viewer’s attention. As I stated earlier, I’m not 100% on the facts surrounding Bundy but the film is extremely enjoyable. The pacing is smooth but the film does jump around creating a bit of a murky story telling experience.
Finally, if you want blood and gore you wont find it here. The kills do not take place on screen and we do not get to see the aftermath. There is no effects to be seen. Overall, The Stranger Beside Me is a very entertaining film. Honestly, I didn’t expect much from this one and it put me in my place. Check it out now on blu from Mill Creek Entertainment.