Bundy

on September 13, 2002 by Luisa F. Ribeiro
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Despite--or likely because of--the horror, fear and revulsion provoked by serial killers, there is also an honest fascination in their psychological makeup that is ripe for cinematic exploration. In the proper hands, even so gruesome a topic could provide a thoughtful production. "Bundy," by writer-director and serial killer "fan" Michael Bright, ain't it. A look at 1970s serial killer Ted Bundy, who pummeled, raped and strangled to death more than 35 women (and was executed for the murders in 1989), "Bundy" is a schlocky, shallow, unpleasant experience that raises few questions and provides no answers.

Frequently described as charming and bright, Ted Bundy (Michael Reilly Burke) is depicted here as a frustrated geek and bumbling peeping-Tom with a penchant for bow-ties and young girls. Following the more well-known details of Bundy's exploits, the story opens with Bundy flunking out of law school and blithely lying about his affections to his unsuspecting girlfriend Lee (Boti Ann Bliss). Bundy then abruptly and inexplicably begins attacking college-age women on the street, on campus and in their homes. The victims are a nameless and practically faceless procession, apparently provided as fodder only to detail Bundy's increasing brazen rage.

Writer/director Bright, known for his previous black humor films "Freeway" and "Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby" (each of which centered on serial killers), tosses in inappropriate "comic" touches into this grim mix, the most unsettling of which is having Bundy literally carrying out several attacks right under the nose of an indifferent public. The effect is actually more frightening than any of the other more graphic sequences, yet comes across as a sophomoric ploy rather than a provocative statement of how social apathy might have contributed to Bundy's terrible success.

Burke offers little of Bundy's contradictory charm and rage, projecting a petulant smarminess contrasted with a mounting arrogance and fear as Bundy's rampages increase. By the time the inevitable ending arrives (with a brief glimpse of the real Bundy being sentenced to death), one feels nothing for this infamous murderer but a sense of relief that this B-film schlock-fest is over. Starring Michael Reilly Burke and Boti Ann Bliss. Directed by Michael Bright. Written by Stephen Johnston and Michael Bright. Produced by Hamish McAlpine and Michael Muscal. A First Look release. Drama. Rated R for strong violence involving a sexual predator/serial killer, sexuality/nudity and language. Running time: 97 min.

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