09th Dec2021

‘Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Chad Michael Murray, Holland Roden, Jake Hays, Lin Shaye, Greeer Grammar, Olivia DeLaurentis, Julianne Collins, Gianna Adams, Dashiell Connery, Anthony De Longis, Asante Jones, Diane Franklin | Written and Directed by Daniel Farrands

Daniel Farrands, writer of 1995’s Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers, continues his recent meander through American “killer” culture with Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman which, once again, tells the story of one of America’s most notorious and charismatic serial killers.

Chad Michael Murray, best known for his roles in One Tree Hill and more recently Riverdale (where he channeled more of a psychotic performance, perfectly setting up his transition to character actor rather than “former teen star”) plays the notorious serial killer alongside horror icon Lin Shaye (Critters, Insidous film series) playing Bundy’s mother; as well as Holland Roden (Teen Wolf) and Jake Hays who makes his feature length film debut.

We all know the Ted Bundy story by now though. Notorious killer, Ted Bundy (Murray), stalks the highways of gritty 1970s America looking for his next victim. Hunting him are FBI agents Kathleen McChesney (Roden) and Robert Ressler (Hays) as they lead the largest manhunt in history to apprehend America’s most infamous serial killer…

In recent years Farrands has turned his hand to numerous infamous stories – starting with 2018’s The Amityville Murders, following that up with writing and directing The Haunting of Sharon Tate in 2019 and directing The Murder of Nicole Brown Simpson the same year. I’m not sure what Farrands obsession with such infamous cases is but it has resulted in films of varying quality (and believability), with Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman easily the best of the bunch – mainly because Farrands plays this story LITERALLY like Bundy is the boogeyman, playing up the horror elements of the story and using the tropes of the genre to make this one stand out from the crowd. Though the crowd of Bundy-related movies is a packed one. Starting with 1986’s The Deliberate Stranger, starring American heartthrob Mark Harmon (NCIS, Summer School) as Bundy there have at LEAST a dozen Bundy films made, even more if you count the myriad of documentaries on the subject – mostly in the past few decades. Including Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and Bundy and the Green River Killer in 2019 and No Man of God as recently as earlier this year!

Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman actually has shades of the former Bill Lustig-directed video nasty Maniac about it. Not only because Bundy shares a room with mannequins in the latter half of the film (with a truly insane fantasy sequence filmed in that room which Farrands uses to show the audience inside the mind of HIS take on Bundy) but also in the way Chad Michael Murray plays to both sides of Bundy’s nature – at once innocent and sweet, yet terrifying and truly evil. In this case the eyes really do have it.

Speaking of Chad Michael Murray, he’s the second “teen heartthrob” to take a stab at Bundy (third if you count how popular Mark Harmon was for his looks back in the 80s), following Zac Efron’s turn as the killer in 2019. However Murray’s take is wholly different from both of those – he plays Bundy as a boogeyman. An almost unfeeling stalk and slash killer, a la cinemas most famous boogeyman, Michael Myers (tying it back to Farrands early work perhaps?) In fact Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman is really very much like a slasher movie – it certainly feels like that’s the template Farrands has used to craft his take on the notorious killer; you only have to ee THAT scene in the sorority to know Farrands has turned his Bundy into a boogeyman. And, for me, it works. We’ve all seen “true story” takes on Bundy, the quasi-accurate takes. Me? I much prefer the more exploitative iterations like this. I don’t know what that says about me but…

As it’s more of an exploitation film, your enjoyment of Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman may vary but, personally, this is probably my favourite version of the familiar story yet. It’s certainly made me more interested in Farrands next film, Aileen Wournos: American Boogeywoman. Though again, I don’t know what that says about me!

**** 4/5

Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman is out now on digital across the UK from The Movie Partnership.

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