This voyeuristic drama about the FBI hunt for Bundy makes his victims indistinguishable and leaves a nasty taste in the mouth
I couldn’t stomach this pointless and dull drama about the FBI hunt for loathsome serial killer Ted Bundy. It comes on the heels of the Zac Efron biopic and Netflix’s documentary series based on prison tape recordings with Bundy, who eventually confessed to murdering more than 30 women (and was suspected by police of killing many more). What this film adds to the Bundy frenzy is a portrait of the serial killer at work: driving around in his VW Beetle stalking and abducting young victims. It’s not that these slickly shot scenes are particularly gruesome, but they do feel cheap and voyeuristic. We watch his unsuspecting young victims, oblivious to what’s coming. Look, he’s behind you!
That said, Chad Michael Murray is a more convincing Bundy than Zac Efron; he plays it bland, dreary and dull, more inadequate. Even his nice-ordinary-guy charm has a skin-crawling quality. The film goes to some lengths to show off Bundy’s predator instincts. In the first murder shown, he uses a prop: hobbling on crutches in a car park pretending to have an injured leg. He makes a show of dropping his car keys. The victim – he preys on kindness – bends down, on her hands and knees to retrieve his keys from under the car. Another time he impersonates a cop to lure a teenager into his car. This is every woman’s worst nightmare. We watch the fear on their faces as they realise what’s happening. Do we really need to see it over and over again? It doesn’t help that the victims are mostly indistinguishable – an interchangeable series of pretty young white brunettes.
Investigating Bundy is cop Kathleen McChesney (Holland Roden) and FBI agent Robert Ressler (Jake Hays), a lightweight duo who stare furrow-eyebrowed at photos of blood-stained mattresses and bashed-in decomposed skulls. Honestly, there is no earthly reason for the existence of this film; it might work for the Bundyphiles but it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth for everyone else.
• Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman is released on 6 December on digital platforms.