‘Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman’—Another Forgettable Trip Down Bundy Lane: Review

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Following his previously dodgy titles The Haunting of Sharon Tate and The Amityville Murders, controversial horror director Daniel Farrand is back and this time he's glamourising the heinous crimes of serial killer Ted Bundy.

Following his previously dodgy titles The Haunting of Sharon Tate and The Amityville Murders, controversial horror director Daniel Farrand is back and this time he’s glamourising the heinous crimes of serial killer Ted Bundy.

★★✰✰✰

Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman is another cinematic exploration (alongside countless other contemporary documentaries and feature-length films) of the notorious American serial killer Ted Bundy. In the opening scenes of Daniel Farrands’ movie, we see two young women having a seemingly normal conversation regarding one’s frustration with their significant other. This eventually leads one of the young women to come across a wandering and murderous Bundy, faking injury and vulnerability on the lookout for his next victim.

From here we are taken on a chronological journey throughout the years of the titular killer’s horrific crimes. Uniquely, Farrands offers the perspective of his crimes from three angles; from the victims, from the FBI agents and authorities going after him and from Ted Bundy himself (played by Chad Michael Murray). The film gives ample time to the FBI investigators chasing Bundy, specifically, Kathleen McChesney (Holland Roden) and Robert Ressler (Jake Hays), exploring the personal connection and motivation of McChesney in catching and bringing Bundy to justice.

Overall, Farrands’ film is dull and relatively unexciting. His attempt to combine the generic dark thriller-horror film formula with the abominable acts of Ted Bundy, which have been over-sensationalised by Hollywood for decades, makes for a run-of-the-mill serial killer film which creatively brings nothing new to the audience.

The lack of thrill within this so-called horror film largely lies with the mediocre acting. This is a shame because the cast is filled with actors such as Lin Shaye and Chad Michael Murray who have given phenomenal performances in other projects in the past. However, to be completely fair to the cast they weren’t given much to work with, as the script is poorly written and borderline cringe. The ability for interactions and conversations to flow naturally was lost at the expense of attempting to dramatize the plot to extremes.


The lack of thrill within this so-called horror film largely lies with the mediocre acting.


Despite this, there were some relatively decent performances. A notable one is that of Kathleen McChesney who is played by Holland Rodden. It was by far the best performance within the cast (but considering the acting throughout the rest of the cast, this isn’t exactly the highest compliment on the planet). The script and actress successfully fleshed out the character’s background so that we could understand her cause, her emotion-fuelled motivation to catch Bundy and why it was so significant to her.

Rodden’s portrayal of McChesney exceeded that of the title character by far. Largely since Murray’s portrayal of Bundy was relatively bland and predictable. Considering the extremes of the man and his personal history, there is potential to extend and explore beyond the traditional Hollywood portrayal and confines of who and what Bundy was. Yet it felt like he played it safe and played a sensationalised version of Bundy we have already seen countless times before.

However, Murray’s part in this film was not the most disappointing. The depiction of Lisa Levy (played by Alexandra Scott) an important person in the story for Bundy was more than disappointing. Scott did not embody the character or the emotions of the individual whatsoever. The performance was lacking, bland and vacant of any sentiment. It made it difficult to sympathise with an individual we should instantly feel so much for.

The Verdict

Overall, the unsatisfying and monotonous portrayal of Bundy only feeds into a humdrum ‘true crime’ horror thriller focusing on the notorious serial killer which has been excessively repeated within recent media. Despite providing several perspectives, Farrands’ film retells Bundy’s unspeakable crimes in a manner that has already been done several times.

Words by Shannon McGuigan


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