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Documentary Review: Netflix`s “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” (2019) ★★★★★



© Netflix

How much do we know about serial killers? Did anyone ever try to offer an insight into what happens in their mind and why they are loving human beings for one but monsters to another? Is it because of split personality, hunger for blood, desire to kill, or just a feeling of supremacy over others? “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” directed by Joe Berlinger gives a glimpse into the mind of a sociopath who happened to be a well-educated, having a degree in psychology, serial killer, and the viewer this time will be an acting psychologist who must be ready to assess and analyze everything being offered in this chilling yet most interesting documentaries of all time about Ted Bundy.

All the facts are passed in chronological order, The Ted Bundy Tapes follows the two journalists, Hugh Aynesworth and Stephen Michaud, who were assigned to interview the serial killer on death row, Ted Bundy. Through this interview or the interviews of the survivor, or just listening to his tapes and what he had to tell, the documentary examines the step-by-step events, starting his escape from prison and his recapture, how he would not act normally as any other convicted murderer after setting himself free. What we learn in the end is that he indeed was extremely wicked, shockingly evil, and vile, while his murders were not only heinous, he spared no mercy or compassion for his victims and was too careful to ensure he doesn’t miss any opportunity to make his victims suffer greatly before they lose their life.

In the first televised trial, Ted Bundy appears joyful, happy, and full of himself. He continues pleading guilty and sabotages his own life by entering into a war against the justice system he thought he is smart enough to fool. As we watch him, or listen to his interviews or archival footage, the film never fails to capture his persona and lets the killer to speak for himself in a scary way. Of course, it’s not easy to watch the documentary, but it helps to learn more about his nature and realize that the most horrifying part was that he indeed looked like a sane person who enjoyed killing as if it was the only way for him to inhale fresh air.

Whenever we watch a documentary, we never know what to expect, especially, in this one. Many might say why should we give a platform to a serial killer, making feature or documentaries about them? Why should we give them a voice, when they need to remain as an anonymous individual with no history whatsoever? But the truth is, we must capture history no matter how painful it can be. And Berlinger’s piece is so detailed, informative, and provided an endless number of unseen footages that will help to guide you from one episode to another.

Another interesting fact you will hear in the film is, good or bad, said by Bundy, “We want to be able to say we can identify these dangerous people. And the really scary thing is you can’t identify them. People do not realize that there are potential killers among them. How could anyone live in a society where people they liked, loved, lived with, worked with, and admired could the next day turn out to be the most demonic people imaginable?” Scary, isn’t it? But that’s what reality is all about.

In conclusion, the four episodes of the Ted Bundy Tapes will give you goosebumps, chills, and brutal insights into the mind of the most evil, cruel murderer that gladly committed the most cold-hearted and atrocious killings without hesitation, yet, walked freely on this Earth until he was captured. And the most notable and heartbreaking scenes in the documentary will be the footage of a televised court where Judge Edward D. Cowart addresses Ted Bundy is enough to provide you food for thought when he says, “It is a tragedy for this court to see such a total waste, I think, of humanity that I have experienced in this court. You’re a bright young man. You’d have made a good lawyer. I’d love you to have you practice in front of me. But you went another way, partner.”

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