Ted Bundy was one of America’s most infamous serial killers, and 30 years after his death the horrific story of his crimes have yet again taken the media by storm. Netflix’s four-part documentary Conversations with a killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes gives viewers a sickening account of his crimes, trial and eventual execution, using a shifting timeline to navigate between the different parts of Bundy’s life. The documentary comes from the perspective of many including journalists, detectives, witnesses, victims, but most shockingly from the killer himself.
In interviews with journalists and a confession just days before his execution, Ted Bundy confessed to over 30 murders, multiple rapes and necrophilia; his victims were mostly young women, particularly brunette college students. The gruesome and savage nature of his crimes is what was most appalling, and after escaping prison twice he was eventually convicted and charged with three separate death sentences. The documentary follows both the crimes he committed and the investigations into them, as well as giving insight into his life and possible causes for his twisted criminal state of mind.
The documentary gives a unique perspective into the crimes, as viewers can actually hear the killer’s description of his crimes and thought processes. Footage of interviews and court hearings, in addition to a well put together series of photographs and camerawork, expertly enhances the narrative and helps viewers to clearly understand the information presented. The documentary directly confronts the truth about Ted Bundy and his story, and ultimately shows that despite extensive psychological analysis, the serial killer had nothing but a monstrous void inside of him which will never be fully understood.
The trailer for the upcoming film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile with Zac Efron, and the documentary have received criticism for their portrayal of Bundy, with claims of them sexualising the criminal. However, it was Bundy’s persona of confidence, charm and charisma, along with his apparent good looks, which allowed him to avoid being caught or suspected, and also allowed him to entice his victims. Therefore, this portrayal although extremely unsettling, is the most realistic way that the documentary and film could have presented him.
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is a documentary which is fascinating, gripping, but most of all terrifying, and gives viewers an important message and warning about being misled by appearances. While I would without a doubt recommend watching it, I warn you: it’s not one to watch alone in the dark.