Story: A killer has been stalking the normally tranquil streets of Wichita, Kansas, leaving behind brutal crime scenes, terrified locals, and a desperate police force. After a rash of tragic murders, the killer vanishes and goes dormant for decades, further frustrating law enforcement, who want to get the madman off the streets. But when author Robert Beattie (Maury Chakin) pens a book about the BTK Killer years after the crimes, it awakens the lunatic and he resurfaces. After the killer starts leaving messages for Beattie and the police, Detective Magida (Robert Forster) starts to try to close the net on the psycho. But can he lure out BTK and deliver justice at long last, or will the killer strike once again first?
Entertainment Value: The true crime genre is always popular, so it was no surprise to see several movies made about the BTK Killer, including this made for television production. The Hunt for the BTK Killer is of course going to be of interest to serial killer cinema devotees, but it doesn’t exactly light up the screen, to say the least. I did appreciate that the movie balances between Dennis Rader’s side of the story and the police investigation, as that helps it stand out a bit. Otherwise, this is a passable and solidly made picture, even if it never really hits an effective stride. This is the kind of movie you watch and don’t regret sitting down with, but it leaves little impression after the credits roll. The pace is fine and the cast is good, which helps compensate for some of the more routine elements, so while I am not singing the film’s praises, it is a decent watch. I think fans of true crime and serial killers will be most lured in by The Hunt for the BTK Killer, so for that audience, this one is recommended.
One reason The Hunt for the BTK Killer is so watchable is Gregg Henry, who plays the title role of Dennis Rader. Henry has an uncanny likeness to the real life Rader, which really enhances the entire picture. To me, that helped me get immersed in the narrative, since it was almost like watching a documentary on the topic. His performance is also quite good and he is able to bring Rader’s presence and mannerisms to life. I do wish there was more to like about the rest of the movie however, as Henry as the centerpiece of a BTK Killer movie is so perfect. Even so, he performs well and elevates the film, which is all he could be asked to do. Robert Forster is also on hand and turns in his usual solid work, so fans of his will likely also be interested in checking this one out. The cast also includes Michael Michele, Maury Chakin, and Daniel Kash.