Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

Director: Paul Shapiro

Starring: Billy Campbell, Barbara Hershey, Kevin Dunn, Suki Kaiser, Brenda James, Benjamin Ratner, Matthew Bennett, Meghan Black, Aaron Douglas

More info: IMDb

Plot: A remarkably self-deprecating entry in the USA network's off-and-on Ann Rule Presents series of fact-based films, The Stranger Beside Me details how Ann Rule (Hershey), a smart and savvy veteran crime reporter, allowed herself to be bamboozled by baby-faced serial killer Ted Bundy (Campbell). Working side by side with Bundy as a volunteer at a Seattle rape crisis center in 1971, Rule had no clue that the personable and charming young man was responsible for one the most terrifying sex-murder sprees of the 20th century. Even after suspicion fell upon Bundy, Rule was initially willing to give him the benefit of the doubt -- as, alas, were so many law enforcement officials of the era. But once the truth was known, Rule embarked upon her own mea culpa campaign by going after Bundy with every resource at her disposal. Based on Rule's 1983 bestseller of the same name.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? No.

Good flick and much better than average for a made-for-basic-cable movie that can't have nudity or much gore.  The first half focuses on Ted's beginnings and Rule's doubts about his innocence.  The second half (less than half but close enough) shows Ted's continuance to try and persuade her that he's innocent and his exploits in jail and the courtroom.  Some of it is so outrageous I wonder how much truth there is to it but it's very interesting and it's helped by the two strong leads.  If anything it makes you want to delve deeper into reading her book and others on Bundy's long career as a serial killer. I'd indulge except I don't have much time for reading.  It cuts into my movie watching time.

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