Ann Rule Presents: The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

Billy Campbell in Ann Rule Presents: The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

The Killer She Knew

There are 3 reasons why you would want to watch "The Stranger Beside Me"; you may have an interest in notorious crimes or serial killers and so hunt this one out because its focus is on Ted Bundy. You might want to watch "The Stranger Beside Me" because it is by crime writer Ann Rule and based on her own friendship with Bundy. Or like me you watch this because it is a movie and you love movies. And if you watch it because of this you will watch an interesting but not spectacular movie. There is no doubt that "The Stranger Beside Me" is fascinating and Billy Campbell's performances as Ted Bundy is unnerving but it doesn't have you gripped by what is going on.

So I am no expert on Ted Bundy but what "The Stranger Beside Me" does is provide us with a mix of things. Firstly we get to see some of Bundy's various crimes and how he went about picking women up using his charm and his seemingly easy going nature to dupe them to go with him. We also see how Ted enjoyed the notoriety, smiling when he first learns that his initial arrest is nationwide news and the attention he gets playing it up when he ends up in court. How much of this is fact and how much is fiction I don't know but it is interesting.

Barbara Hershey in Ann Rule Presents: The Stranger Beside Me (2003)

But what we also get and what really is the focus of "The Stranger Beside Me" is the relationship between Ann and Ted as they both worked for a crisis call centre. We get to see how as a crime writer who assisted the police she began to suspect that her friend was the man behind all these murders. And we also see how as a writer she was approached to write a book on the murders and how she felt conflicted when it became apparent it is someone she knew who was responsible for all the murders.

The thing about this from purely a movie fans point of view is that whilst interesting "The Stranger Beside Me" never really gets you in its grips. For me that is down to it trying to cover too much in a short time and so never really flows, jumping between events especially early on so it is not easy to follow unless you already know a lot about Bundy.

But it does have one thing going for it and that is Billy Campbell whose performance as Ted Bundy is unsettling especially with the haunted look in his eyes. Aside from Campbell there is also Barbara Hershey as Ann Rule and it is a solid performance but also a forgettable one as is Kevin Dunn as Detective Dick reed.

What this all boils down to is that purely as a movie fan "The Stranger Beside Me" is an interesting movie but a forgettable one which struggles because it feels like it is trying to cover too much. But maybe for those with a greater interest in Ted Bundy it will be more interesting.