With the recent Netflix film and docu-series, it is only fitting that other other movies on the subject of Ted Bundy make a comeback of their own. One of them making its way back into the sight of the audience is Paul Shapiro’s The Stranger Beside Me.
While working at a crisis center in the 70’s, Ann Rule, unwittingly becomes friends with soon-to-be notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy.
Ted Bundy is one of the most well-known mass murderers in history. The term ‘serial killer’ didn’t even exist until Bundy’s case. This made-for-TV movie does a great job of showing some of what went on during his spree across several states, from his suspicion and arrest to his bail, re-arrest, prison escape, and so on.
While actor Billy Campbell (Enough, Bram Stoker’s Dracula) may not be the heartthrob that Zac Efron is, he does a remarkable job portraying the charming Bundy throughout the film’s 90 minutes. He is every bit as unsuspecting and endearing as I imagine the real Theodore Robert Bundy was to everyone around him.
The Stranger Beside Me is based on a book of the same name by former police officer and crime novelist, Ann Rule. Rule is played by Barbara Hershey (Black Swan), who also does a wonderful job in her role. Writing a book about someone who she was truly close with put the author in an extremely sticky situation, one that I am sure could not have been easy.
The Stranger Beside Me is not an overly graphic film. It was made for television, after all. Even still, I am not sure the story would have benefited anyone if it were to be more explicit in nature. That is not what this, or from what I hear about the new Netflix film, is truly about. Instead, director Paul Shapiro, who, with over 78 television show and movie credits, is a master of the format, was trying to take a deeper look into the man, not the murders themselves.
If you are looking for a detailed account of the Bundy murders, this is not for you. If, instead, you want a more biographical look into one of the most notorious criminals of all time, The Stranger Beside Me is worth your while and makes for a great supplement to the Netflix material.
If you are interested in checking this out, be sure to pick up a copy of the film on Blu-ray this Tuesday, July 9, from Mill Creek Entertainment.
I give this one 3 debonair killers out of 5.