Runtime: 91 minutes
Release Date: September 6, 2004
Director: Bill Eagles
Bruce Greenwood, who you might know from big time movies like Double Jeopardy, took some time away from the big screen to film this little known television movie about Ted Bundy. He apparently made it look so exciting that Cary Elwes decided to hop on board as the infamous serial killer himself.
This is usually the part where I do a whole plot outline, but there's really no need for one. This is based on the true story of both Bundy and Gary Ridgway, better known as the Green River Strangler. Ridgway confessed to killing more than 50 women and was convicted of killing nearly 50. He earned his nickname long before confessing to a single murder, and The Riverman tells the story of the police force tasked with finding the connection between a series of murdered women and eventually finding the killer.
Greenwood takes on the role of Robert Keppel, one of the most famous police detectives and criminal profilers in the world. As someone who is way too interested in serial killers, I actually have a copy of his most famous book sitting in my end table right now. Keppel turned to Bundy in the hopes of finding out what makes a serial killer tick and in the hopes of finding a way to catch the Green River Strangler. Believe it or not, those meetings actually did happen, which is what Keppel used in his book.
When I was just a wee little lass and not yet as in love with horror movies as I am today, I remember seeing a picture of Bundy on the cover of a magazine with a headline about his execution. I also remember my mom trying to change the subject when I kept repeatedly asking her about the man on the cover. It was years later when I picked up a copy of The Stranger Beside Me and learned all about his gruesome acts. BTW, I highly recommend all of Ann Rule's books for anyone who likes true crime stuff.
As for The Riverman, it was just kind of “meh” in my book. Greenwood is really the standout. He manages to show the heartbreaking work that Keppel did over the course of his career and how hard he worked to bring down the Green River Strangler. We even get to see the effects that his career had on his family and home life. The later scenes are a little distracting, mainly because the producers decided to cover him in cheap makeup in an attempt to look older than he really was.
While I really wanted to like Elwes as Bundy, there was just something off about his scenes. Though he's a good looking man in real life, he looked pale and a little psychotic in the film. Even while in prison, Bundy remained as sharp as a knife and was still able to trick people in the same way he did on the outside. Elwes seemed to forget he was playing a real man and wanted to just play a psycho killer.
Though The Riverman got some good reviews, I'm still on the hunt for a Ted Bundy story featuring someone who can actually deliver on the Bundy name.