On April 7, 1987, Gary Ridgeway, who a few years earlier had fallen under suspicion of killing some young women in the Seattle area, once again fell under suspicion, and police took DNA samples. While police continued to pursue other leads, these samples would, more than a decade later, lead them back to Ridgeway. The Green River Killer is the most prolific identified serial killer in human history (excluding some who have held office), and his crimes have been the basis of two suspense-film adaptations.

The first one isn’t worth your time. The second, a two-part, made-for-tv film which since 2008 has made frequent appearances on cable TV, holds interest for a certain audience.

It also features a key cameo by genre-TV regular James Marsters.

Title: The Capture of the Green River Killer

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Norma Bailey
Written by John Pielmeier
Based in part on the book by David Reichert

Cast
Tom Cavanagh as Dave Reichert
Amy Davidson as Helen “Hell” Remus
Jessica Harmon as Natalie “Nat” Webley
John Pielmeier as Gary Ridgway
Dan Augusta as Gary Ridgway
Stephen Eric McIntyre as Everett Holloway
Currie Graham as Captain Norwell
Ingrid Rogers as Faye Brooks
Michelle Harrison as Angela Reichert
James Russo as Jeb Dallas
Frank Adamson as Coroner
Bret Anthony as Bram Seton
James Marsters as Ted Bundy

Full Cast and Crew information is available at the imdb.

Available from Amazon Instant Video.

Premise:

Police pursue the elusive Green River Killer over three decades. This adaptation looks at the events through the experiences of real-life people, but also introduces two fictitious girls who stand in for the many people affected by the case.

High Points:

Conceptually, using “Hell” and “Nat” to stand in for the multitude of women menaced and killed by Gary Ridgeway gives the film a human touch. It would be otherwise hard to select two real people, given the abundance of victims and the desperation and anonymity with which many of them lived. The choice allows for suspense, as we do not know the outcome of their encounters in advance.

James Marsters’ cameo as Ted Bundy adds roughly as much to the story as Bundy did to the real-life investigation, but Marsters gives a credible performance as the quintessential psychopathic killer.

Low Point:

We see too little of the killer and, in a film this long, that seems an oversight. We will never know entirely how this lowlife, marked by mediocrity at every turn (save for his skill at the killing of innocent people), managed to elude police for so long. We also can never truly know why he killed—- but we know enough. Given that the actual police procedural here (until the end) is quite dreary and repetitive, we needed to see more of the monster.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 The film has been adapted from existing accounts of a real story, of course, while its principal addition—the two fictitious girls— have stories that resemble those of the teenage friends attacked by the Abbotsford Killer in 1995.

Effects: 4/6 The effects are limited to quick views of murdered victims.

Production: 4/6 The locations don’t, I’ve been told, look consistently like Seattle in the 80s and 90s, but they have been used effectively for the purposes of the story. The filmmakers did a fair job for a made-for-tv production, a lot better than the previous attempt at a film on the same subject, in 2005.

Acting: 5/6 The acting varies. I liked the natural performances of Amy Davidson and Jessica Harmon as “Hell” and “Nat.”

Story: 4/6 This film simplifies the truth. However, the filmmakers manage to get a coherent story out of a chaotic, messy investigation that spanned decades.

Emotional Response: 4/6

Overall: 4/6. In the end, we have an interesting but average thriller/procedural, somewhat chaotic, but with some compelling performances, that shines light on one of the worst mass murderers in history, and a very frustrating investigation. I recommend it to those interested in the genre or subject matter.

In total, The Capture of the Green River Killer receives 28/42.

Additional Comments

The forthcoming months features a lot of SF, fantasy, superheroes, and horrors. Those of you looking for our more obviously “genre” reviews will not be disappointed.