The title Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a bit misleading. Yes, the producers of Netflix's new docuseries about serial killer Ted Bundy have tapes. They have hours and hours of tapes, some of them chilling to make their stomach drop to your ankles. But they are not conversations as much as monologues featuring Bundy-a textbook sociopath willing to lie to anyone about anything-opining on his childhood, the murder cases against him, his disgustingly delusional self-image, and anything else that happened to pop into “/>
January 24 on Netflix
Four-episode documentary series; All four episodes watched for review
Stephen Michaud, who traveled to Florida to interview. in true narcissistic fashion, he sends out a call for "celebrity bio" writers to come and hear And Michaud humored him for a little while, letting Bundy paint an unrealistically sunny portrait of his upbringing moving around the US. eventually settling in Tacoma, Washington. Those looking for new insight into Bundy's childhood will be disappointed with the first episode of Conversations With A Killer as the tales he tells complicate the already conflicting narratives about his life simply by being complete and utter bullshit.
the assumption that Bundy is really talking about himself, and therefore the tapes give us an unprecedented look into his mind and methods. But the problem, again, is that Ted Bundy's word to go on here. If you can not trust a word Ted Bundy says about himself, his statements on "someone's" mental state should be as suspect. Yet, Michaud believed he was gambit to be a success at face value-and so did Berlinger, enough to make a documentary revolving around it. Did they do so because they believed that they were well-suited to our understanding of these inexplicable crimes? Or did they do so, 30 years after its execution, Bundy's name stillsells papers-or green-lights docuseries, as the case may be?
As the series wears on, harder to ignore. Although Berlinger makes the most of Bundy's nauseatingly callous statements, pairing them with grainy '70s-era stock footage and impressionistic horror-movie montage to truly terrifying effect, there's no doubt about it hours' worth of bingeable true-crime TV. And so, by the end of the second episode, Michaud and his tapes have mostly receded into the background, and the psychological thread is lost.
Berlinger fills the remaining runtime with a variety of documentary techniques, some more successful than others. Most successful is putting in the social context of the 1970s and the second-wave feminist movement; Berlinger presents him as a titled white man who lashes out with violence when confronted with his own mediocrity. (Hey what a dedicated Republican who felt that politics were "perfect for him because he [didn’t] have to be real," in the words of one interview subject.) as Conversations With A Killer points out, is the ultimate in toxic masculinity.
The second and third episode of the series, which focuses mostly on the women Bundy killed, is a good job in Seattle (and later in Salt Lake City and the University of Florida) felt on a daily basis during his murderous reign, and the incompetence of investigators who re-traumatized survivors by not believing them. It does so mostly through archival news footage and interviews with reporters and detectives who worked the case, including Kathleen McChesney, one of only four female detectives in King County, Washington at the time of the Bundy murders. Bundles crimes-the word "necrophilia" is only mentioned once-presumably out of respect for the victims.
These episodes can be frustrating at times, but mostly because the investigations were so poorly handled by sexist law enforcement. Where Conversations With A Killer gets truly enraging is in its last episode, which is just as well as the second and third episodes, but with one key difference: Bundy's trial, and defense lawyers. They are a little too pleased with the notoriety. This angle is under-explored, as Bundy giving video interviews, Bundy in his own right, Bundy's previously released death row confessions.
The last episode leans heavily on long, exasperating stretches of video of Bundy, clearly relishing the attention, mugging to the camera as he represents himself in court. It's instructed to see the leeway Bundy got from law enforcement who coded him because he was a middle-class, well-dressed white guy. At one point a judge makes him a good lawyer. Bundy's crimes is disappointingly underdeveloped when the focus shifts to the trial and Bundy's ensuing celebrity. Promises of understanding, and the feeling of being alone, fade away, and all that's left is Bundy, making soulful eye contact with the camera as the interviewees talk about the charisma, and that it looks irresistible to the gaggle of groupies that coalesced during his trial.
Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes does not glorify this despicable man, but it is short of being truly self-aware when it comes to the tricks of all true-crime ethical dilemmas: At what point does documenting a narcissist become giving him a platform? Ted Bundy means that it does not really bring much new information to the table. The most frightening thing about Bundy what his emptiness, his / her ability to become whatever it is most convenient for him at any particular moment. Conversations With A Killer is aware of that void, but is not truly comfortable staring into it-allowing Bundy himself to fill that void with lies.