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This real crime genre has been reaching its saturation point for some time now, and Netflix’s distended new documentary about the serial killer Ted Bundy could make a mark of overload. It isn’t just that Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes is one of an exploitative and dismaying, crass and languishing. What’s more blatant is how thoroughly un-creepy this psychoanalysis of the notoriously “charming” murderer feels. It’s really funny that Netflix felt the necessity to warn it’s viewers not to watch it alone (Are you serious? Since you cannot joke about a serial killer. Can you?)


All this is despite director Joe Berlinger’s arduous efforts to play up the grotesque contrast between Bundy’s upper likability and his 30 murders of women through the Seventies in the Pacific Northwest and later Florida. The final tally of his crime may extend even more.
I am looking for an opportunity to tell the story as best I can,” says Bundy in one of the recorded interviews that stands apart as the documentary’s unique selling point. “ I’m just a normal individual.”


Bundy’s crimes are decades old and in most instances long solved, it’s like a cross-word puzzle with all the answers already evident. The suspicion of a twist and turn is missing around the corner.
What Netflix doesn’t reveal is that Berlinger takes a very long time revealing; Bundy imparts little of substance on the tapes. He’s a tedious narcissist, exalted to get the reporters to keep hanging on his words. But he defends his innocence and refuses to get into his crimes. It’s all about him and his thoughts, not his victims.


Witnessing Conversations with a Killer, you’ll be convinced to conclude that the documentary-making group should itself be in the limits now. Maybe it’s high time to stop feasting on gore and crime-thrillers.

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