How well do we ever really know people?
The Stranger Beside Me (2003) is based off the book by Ann Rule about her experiences working alongside and being friends with Ted Bundy (you know before she realized he was killing people). So I really, really want to read this book, but unfortunately we do not have it at the library as someone checked it out and never returned it.
We had the movie, but I of course would prefer to read the book first and then watch the film.
However, then I saw the new film on Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked and Incredibly Vile (review pending) and then I really wanted to read the book/watch this film.
So instead of waiting any longer I decided to watch the film.
So while it is a TV movie and didn’t have the same amount of money that the Netflix production did, I preferred this film over the new one.
I’m sure you all know by now that I am not a remake fan.
The starts off with Ted Bundy (Billy Campbell) with the dead body of a woman. We then switch to Ann Rule, previously a cop, now a true crime reporter-is close friends with Ted Bundy and talking to him about how she got this great deal to write a book on this person who has been killing people. He asks about the book and she shares a little about it and the crime, the two reconnecting as they haven’t seen each other in a while-we then flash back.
Ann Rule had met Ted Bundy earlier in her life when they both worked at a crisis counseling center and let me tell you that watching it felt like being in a whirlpool. Here is this guy who they estimate ended up murdering and raping over 100 women actually helping and saving people-and being incredible kind and caring while he did it. Ann has said that she witnessed him saving lives and that she trusted him with her own daughter (she has stated that if her daughter was older she would have set them up, she would have made a play for him if she was younger). He used to walk her to car every night and make sure she got in safely.
The thing I really liked about this film is that it is much more balanced than Extremely Wicked and Incredibly Vile as we are shown how Ann views him-but also we see the horrible things he is doing. From how he emotionally abuses and manipulates his girlfriend to him killing women (it doesn’t show anything but alludes to it.) In fact, watching this showed what it is like to be in an abusive relationship-you see the ugly dark side, while the abuser shows the rest of the world the charismatic side.
So in the beginning, Ann Rule didn’t believe Ted could be the killer as all the good he has seen him do. But as events transpired and she began to believe he is he murderer, the film got darker as well.
One thing that I found really interesting, was that before Elizabeth called in her tip about Ted Bundy, Ann shared it with the police as when she heard about the car and the guy being called Ted he popped in her head-but she didn’t really believe it until much later.
I also liked how this showed how he tried to interject himself into her book and have the story written his way. It reminded me of the way he tried to direct the TV interviews .
I thought it was extremely good-even though some of the acting and costumes might not be as good, the story was great and I really liked how it showed how he could charm and be this friendly guy, while in reality he was a dark and twisted man.
For more films based on a True story, go to I Don’t Understand, I Just Wanna Be Your Friend!: Death of a Cheerleader (1994)
For more serial killers, go to How Much Do You Really Know About Him?: The Stepfather (2009)
For more TV films, go to Lifetime Didn’t Go Psycho Enough: Psycho Mother-in-Law (2019)