Chad Michael Murray plays out the persona of renowned serial killer Ted Bundy well, giving a reasonably good performance in this 2021 film directed by Daniel Farrands. It’s a shame, therefore, that the rest of the movie falls dramatically short of these mid-range standards and is a poor representation of the Bundy case. It’s unfortunate to say, but Murray seems to be the backbone of the rating this film is given.
A character is introduced to us as Kathleen McChesney (Holland Roden); an investigator of the case and a campaigner for the rights of the women slain by Bundy. Her factually-inaccurate involvement is weirdly intriguing, considering the fact she didn’t exist in the real case – this is worsened by the sub-par performance she brings to the screen. It is difficult to get truly involved in the accuracy of the film as there are so many inadequate storylines that are simply not true to what really happened. Furthermore, this film contributes little to what is already known about the events and is too similar to every other movie made about the serial killer’s terrible story.
The camerawork is picturesque, adding to the dramatics and the deep, dark background of the murders. Camera angles are efficient in creating mild jumpscares where needed, and there is some element of surprise in parts. These cannot outweigh the inconsistencies in the movie, however. Simple things, such as Bundy sporting a handlebar moustache or the women living in houses that they really didn’t live in, add to the confusion of the audience. It deters your interest from the factual integrity of the story when there are so many elements that are false. The chronology of the murders is inaccurate, which could easily put off anyone who has read a book about or researched into Bundy. This film strikes me as an attempt at a historical horror classic, but it falls slightly short as a mild, inaccurate thriller.
The major problem for me when watching this was the inclusion of this female detective, the so-called heroine of the story. A scene showing her entering the Chi Omega house and ‘shooting’ at Bundy was distasteful and certainly not true to the real story, which adds to the confusing aura and disorientating feel of the film. I disagree with the reasons behind including this character of authority into a movie that already has an existing plot (the Bundy case) that needed no alterations.
The casting choice for Bundy was accurate, interesting and served a good purpose to the film. It’s unfortunate that Chad Michael Murray’s performance can’t rescue this film from its disappointing outcome.