By Rae McEwen,
I am sure by now everyone knows of the highly hyped film following the grim story of Ted Bundy from the perspective girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (also known as Liz Kendall). On Friday the 3rd of May I arrived home from work, got myself settled and switched on the telly fully ready to dive back into the story that I knew so well due to a slightly odd fascination with the inner workings of the minds of serial killers. I hoped the film would not follow the tone set by the trailer and that it would portray the crimes of Ted Bundy as truthfully as possible. Oh how disappointed I was.
At first all seemed well, the cast looked spot on. I was even made to feel horrendously uneasy by just how much Zac Efron looked like Bundy, even down to the small details of dental features. I was pleased that unlike the trailer, that in my opinion carelessly poked fun at the fact that Ted Bundy was a ruthless serial killer, the film had an appropriately dark tone and kept me feeling uncomfortable as the story unfolded – well from what I could understand of the story.
That’s the thing, I myself happen to know the story of Ted Bundy in worryingly great detail and even I couldn’t actually follow what was happening in the storyline. I understand the perspective of the film and that they were trying to create the feeling of uncertainty to put you in the mindset of girlfriend Liz as much as possible, however you can’t make a film about a serial murderer without showing him commit, y’know, serial murder. I was very disappointed to find out that the trailer actually contained more murder scenes than the film itself.
I will say that Zac Efron played the part of Ted Bundy better than I could have expected and my opinion of the film itself should not take away from that as it is difficult to portray a man as complex as Bundy. Although that is possibly the only positive thing I have to say about this film.
The story line moved fast and didn’t explain anything along the way, you were expected to watch while somehow knowing all the information, which for me wasn’t too much of a problem as I could piece together the small pieces of information like dates and locations to identify which crimes and court cases were taking place. However, for someone that perhaps knows nothing or very little of the true story I can imagine watching the film to be one of the most confusing experiences ever.
I feel the film was over hyped and sadly that did not work in its favour as I know I’m not the only person that holds this opinion. It was a good idea but executed poorly and I have never been more disappointed by a film adaption of a crime story. A film about a well known serial killer that you don’t see actually committing a murder until the last twenty minutes of footage just didn’t live up to the expectations I had.
There was so much more they could have put into this film to help the story flow better and be more authentic to the true events. Like Liz finding a suitcase with women’s underwear inside and how although Bundy did portray the perfect boyfriend he had a truly viscous side to him that came out if he ever got angry. Or when he was rearrested in Florida the police didn’t actually tie the cases from California to him as then they didn’t have a central database so crimes taken place across state lines could go unnoticed. They even neglected to show that Bundy actually helped the FBI during his final years in prison with building a profile that they eventually used to arrest the Green River Killer, Gary Ridgway.
To finish this on a more positive note, one detail I did like was the listing of known victims of Ted Bundy before the credits. The victims are all too often forgotten, especially when the number of victims is as high as 30+. That is something we need to remember as well, although the glamourised Hollywood versions of these stories are fun to watch and take digs at, these stories are real and the lives destroyed are real. Did this film do the victims justice? It was a good effort, bless their hearts, but in my opinion no. But, can any film adaption?