One other yr, one other double dose of films dedicated to serial killer Ted Bundy.
For a similar causes that Bundy turned a disturbing supply of fascination earlier than his execution in 1989, Hollywood stays infatuated by the identify and the industrial prospects of Bundy-related titles. Current examples embrace the film “Extraordinarily Depraved, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” starring Zac Efron, and the Netflix docuseries “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.”
When one other one in all these films rolls round, they’re simpler to disregard. After they begin arriving in pairs, it speaks to each the starvation for the equal of serial-killer celebrities and the sheer glut of content material.
So add two extra to the Bundy filmography — which started with Mark Harmon in “The Deliberate Stranger” in 1986 — each of which deal with these in legislation enforcement related to the case: “No Man of God,” which stars Elijah Wooden as FBI profiler Invoice Hagmaier, reverse a chillingly efficient Luke Kirby as Bundy; and “Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman,” with Chad Michael Murray as Bundy and Holland Roden as Kathleen McChesney, the younger Seattle cop pursuing him.
The movies provide a stark distinction in how two films, each comparatively small in scale, can take comparable materials and go in wildly completely different instructions — the primary taking part in like a taut, provocative character examine within the cat-and-mouse sport between the killer and the low-key fed; and the latter representing low-cost exploitation, which presents the killings in a lurid means that provides just about nothing to the story.
“No Man of God” resembles “Mindhunter,” a Netflix collection from director David Fincher that fictionalized the work of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit within the Seventies, who met with varied serial killers looking for to achieve a greater grasp on what motivated them.
That is the duty assigned to Wooden’s Hagmaier, who realizes that Bundy will clam up if he interrogates him, as a substitute participating with him in a way that regularly bought Bundy to disclose and share greater than he in any other case would, through a collection of conversations main as much as his execution.
“American Boogeyman” additionally offers with profiling — McChesney and profiler Robert Ressler (Jake Hays) are each real-life figures — however spends far an excessive amount of time peering over Bundy’s shoulder as he chooses and pursues victims.
As a result of profiling and fashionable criminology had been vastly influenced by this era, there may be an intellectually stimulating facet to all this that “No Man of God” mines. Alex Gibney’s current HBO documentary “Loopy, Not Insane,” about one other Bundy interviewer, psychiatrist Dorothy Otnow Lewis, faucets into the same vein.
Nonetheless, which means doing so in a means that does not romanticize or inadvertently glamorize murderers — as “Extraordinarily Depraved” was accused of doing — which has been a frequent grievance concerning depictions of Bundy, whose attractiveness have lengthy made the function interesting to Hollywood and resulted in admirers who populated the courtroom throughout his trial.
The problem will be particularly problematic in dramatic portrayals, the place, as Vox critic Alissa Wilkinson wrote on the time in regard to Efron’s function, “The digicam always pulls in near Efron’s face, lingering on his portrayal of Bundy when he is most sympathetic and humorous and sort, fairly than dwelling on his actually brutal moments. he is evil, however the digicam positive does not.”
The urge for food for true crime definitely is not ebbing, with sufficient fans that the style has flourished in a TV and film market additional fragmented by streaming. Regardless of a gradual weight-reduction plan of serial-killer-related programming, Bundy stays a very sturdy determine whose story retains being recycled by means of no matter new wrinkle drama and documentary filmmakers can discover.
On condition that, “American Boogeyman” is likely to be dreck, however the title will get one factor proper: This boogeyman is not going away so long as there is a buck to be made off the identify.
“No Man of God” opens in theaters and on demand on Aug. 27.
“Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman” is obtainable on demand and DVD on Sept. 3.