Put yourself in the director's shoes for a minute.
You plan to make a film about a serial killer. How do you plan to
make it something that people will watch? You have several options:
1. Impartial documentation of the action.
2. Sensational documentation of the action.
3. Placing it in the context of a plot contrived
for the occasion - perhaps all the clues lead to some revelation
about the man.
4. Psychological insight into what made the killer
what he was.
5. Insight into the relationship between the
killer and society, including elements in society which produce such
This film really didn't go for a "storytelling"
technique or an "insight" technique. From the list above, one would
conclude that it hovered between options one and two. It tried to
show the horror of what it was like to be there as a victim. It
tried to show the horror of Bundy's ultimate electrocution,
including the death-lust of the people who lined the streets
cheering his execution. It was quite sensational - enough so that I
turned away a few times because I just didn't want to watch it.
I wasn't really able to pick much of a point out
of it. If it gives any abiding impression, it is that Bundy was one
of us. His childhood wasn't perfect, but there was no great
aberrance in his life that fueled his murderous rages. He was a
clean-cut guy with little-boy charm and a handsome face. I don't
know why a guy like him committed these crimes. That would be an
interesting subject for a film. It was not, however, the subject of
this film. This story told the facts in chronological order, and if
it suffered from any great weakness, it was a lack of depth.
If the film had a great strength, it was making us
aware that he walked among us. He carried his wrapped victims past
us and we never noticed, because he looked like a college guy moving
into a new apartment. Even after escaping from prison, he walked
among us, and might have stayed out forever if he had been able to
act normal from that point on. He could not. He murdered again,
stalked again, and was imprisoned again. But those who met him were
always astounded to hear of his deeds, because he made love to them,
went to public events with them, chatted with them amiably, was a
loving stepfather to his fiancÚe's daughter, and showed no more
signs of uncontrolled anger than many of us might show.
And perhaps this is really a horror film in the
deepest sense, because the greatest horror of all is that this is a
true story and he was a real man, and if he had came calling on our
daughters, we would have been pleased to see such a polite,
educated, respectful fellow. There was no defense against Bundy,
because there was no advance warning.
The film stops short of extreme gore. The beatings
are portrayed as cruel and ugly, but our vantage point usually
focuses on Bundy's face, not on the victims. It also has a sexual
bondage scene with explicit dialogue, and a graphic portrayal of
death by electrocution. It is certainly not suitable material for
children. Frankly, I'm not sure it was suitable for me, and I don't
want to think about it any more.