On November 9th 1971 accountant John List murdered his wife, 3 children and his mother before leaving home and disappearing. It wasn't till a month later that the bodies of his family were discovered as John had planned the murder and whilst the FBI were brought in to investigate they didn't find John who had moved to Denver, taken up a new identity and remarried. But many years later Police Chief Bob Richland has not given up on the case having been frustrated by the FBI's investigation many years earlier appeals to the producers of America's Most Wanted to feature the John List case despite it being so long ago.
So as you can see "Judgment Day: The John List Story" is the true story of a murder, a planned murder which saw John List evade capture for 18 years. Now in fairness I am sure there must be some people who are well aware of this notorious murder case especially as there are various books written about John List and the murders. But at the same time I am sure there are many who like me were unaware of this horrendous true story and have come to watch "Judgment Day: The John List Story" out of a fascination for true story movies and for those in my position will find this an interesting but slightly lack lustre dramatization.
The trouble is that "Judgment Day: The John List Story" is a movie which skips all over the place taking us from the now to the past then to a few years earlier as it tries to establish John's reasoning for the murder of his family. Now in fairness in doing so it paints this picture of a man who was obsessive thanks to his mother drumming in to him from a young age to have a soul focus, work hard, go to church and cut out evil from his life. We have this portrait of a man constantly on the verge of snapping not in control but desperate to have control and that leads to him having issues with his family. We also learn of money worries as he brought a home he could not afford and a lot more. So in the midst of this jumping narrative it does explain why he eventually snapped and carried out the meticulous murder of his family as well as how he was eventually caught.
But this does make it hard to get into as it has no real flow and it is only that need to know why he killed his family which keeps you watching. It also doesn't help matters that this jumping narrative comes across from different viewpoints and as such we have various characters to contend with. But none of these characters with the exception of John has any depth and unfortunately that means both David Caruso as Chief Bob Richland and Beverly D'Angelo as John's wife Helen List are quite disappointing. Having said that Carroll Baker as John's dominant mother Alma delivers a performance almost as psychotic as that of Robert Blake as John.
What this all boils down to is that "Judgment Day: The John List Story" is an interesting movie but one which struggles to really tell the story due to the way the narrative jumps about, using various characters but never giving them any depth.