Bob Berdella seems like a nice enough guy even if there is something just a little odd about him. What people don’t know is that he is actually a vicious serial killer who pretty much just targets males. By day he works at a crappy little thrift store that he owns and by night he goes out and convinces unsuspecting victims to come back to his place so they can get drunk and do illegal drugs. He then gets his kicks out of torturing and killing them in his basement and then disposing of their bodies (even selling some of his victims’ skulls at his store). He got away with these acts for years without anyone suspecting a thing until one day when one of his victims managed to escape.
To be honest, I had never even heard of Bob Berdella before I watched this movie. I didn’t know a single thing about him so it is hard for me to say if this film is accurate or not (though when I looked him up on Wikipedia it sounds like the filmmakers kept things pretty close to the actual events). Going into things not being at all familiar with Berdella I thought that the movie was just okay and was really no different than all the other movies about real-life serial killers.
I know a couple of people personally who are really into these types of movies as they have this huge fascination with serial killers. I can take or leave these movies myself. I’ve seen some pretty good ones (“Bundy” is pretty kick ass and “Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer”-which is loosely based on Henry Lee Lucas’ adventures-rules) and ones that just sucked out loud (the horrible “Gacy” and the pretty lousy “Dahmer” immediately come to mind). “Berdella” fell somewhere in the middle for me and while I didn’t hate it I still didn’t really see anything special about it that would make me want to watch it again either.
I think that my biggest problem with the movie is just that I didn’t really care about anything that was going on. We see Berdella work at his sh*tty job, hang out with his creepy redneck pals, get drunk and do drugs, and then take someone to the basement and kill them. The entire movie is basically just these things happening over and over again and it gets old pretty quick. Maybe the filmmakers should have thrown something a little different in from time to time just to keep things from being so redundant.
I also had a hard time liking any of the characters. Berdella was an odd, creepy little guy and even when he isn’t busy torturing and killing someone there is just something unsettling about him. Most of his victims are just as unlikable as they are drug addicts, alcoholics, wife beaters, and just nasty pieces of redneck, white trash garbage with no redeeming qualities in general. I really had a tough time feeling sorry for any of the people he killed and don’t think most viewers will be too broken up about it either.
On the flip side, I did think that Seth Correa was pretty good in the part of Berdella. Even though he is a very unlikable character Correa does a great job in the role and is convincingly skuzzy and creepy at the same time. I think that he is pretty much the main reason the movie isn’t a total wash. He obviously had a good time with the role and as a result he pretty much rules. The scene where he lays down the rules to his final victim (who he calls his “sex slave”) is an effective scene and is incredibly disturbing due to how calm and matter-of-fact Correa is when he delivers his lines.
I like the way that the movie was filmed as well. It had a nice retro feel to it and being a big fan of the 80’s (when the film takes place)I approve. It was also looked a little grainy which was cool as it gave it a nice drive-in, Grindhouse movie vibe to it.
“Berdella” was just so-so in my humble opinion. Just because I wasn’t really into it doesn’t mean that someone else won’t dig it. Serial killer bio pics aren’t really up there on my personal list of favorite horror subgenres, but if they float your boat then I am sure you will enjoy it. Check it out but be aware that it ends pretty abruptly and if you enjoy gore there is very little to be found here. Still, if you’re looking for an okay way to kill an hour and a half you could do a lot worse.