Reviewed by Heather Wixson
Starring Kane Hodder, Amy Lyndon
Directed by Michael Feifer
Distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Nothing is scarier than real life. Ed Gein. Ted Bundy. John Wayne Gacy. These are all real people who committed some of the most disturbing crimes ever committed against humanity. Most recently Dennis Rader joined their infamous club. If you haven’t heard of Rader, then B.T.K. gives you a glimpse into what type of monster he was/is.
B.T.K. is a fictional telling of the story behind serial killer Rader (played by Hodder), who terrorized the Midwest with a string of heinous and murderous crimes against women using methods he described as “bind, torture, kill”, which obviously led to him being referred to as The B.T.K. Killer. The film explores the later years of Rader’s rampage up to the point where the authorities finally catch up with him as well as the dual nature of his behavior as he struggled with the violence he inflicted versus his wholesome family and public persona.
For genre fans B.T.K. is far from roller coaster-type horror. The movie does have a lot of horrific aspects because there are a few very gritty scenes with Rader and his victims, but Friday the 13th this is not. B.T.K. feels mostly like an A&E film ramped up with some serious violence. Writer/director Feifer, who has dabbled in the true crime genre before, does a solid, but only average job of moving along the story of Rader. What really saves the movie from being just another average “based on true events” type of project is Kane Hodder’s performance.
Hodder, who had his first taste of acting with Adam Green’s Hatchet and one of Feifer’s earlier works, Ed Gein: The Butcher of Plainfield (review here), was a bit of a revelation in B.T.K. given it was a rare chance for him to top-line a movie without wearing a mask and chasing down hapless teens in the forest. He impressed me with his ability to portray the “everyman” in Rader as well as the vicious, sadistic nature of a man who was tortured by his own deviances. I truly believed that Hodder was this man who teetered on the brink of madness as he balanced his separate existences. I can only hope that his performance in B.T.K. will lead to more roles where he gets to continue to hone his acting skills.
Overall B.T.K. is a decent watch if you enjoy delving into the depths with real serial killers. But if you are looking for something that offers some escapism, then B.T.K. is not the movie for you.
3 out of 5
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