There’s this old saying that pervades all throughout cinematic history, and really, the history of storytelling in general.
“Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”
Perhaps the best, most recent example of this comes from Netflix‘s newest exclusive offering: Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Despite several reports from various media outlets, and of course, marketing departments, this film isn’t actually as controversial, inflammatory, or unforgivably bad as it’s made out to be. Oh sure, there’s plenty of faux-outrage from the armchair slacktivists on the internet, and others who have bought into the hype, but make no mistake, this is pure marketing at work here, the outrage is almost completely fabricated, and it honestly isn’t anything more than we’ve seen plenty of times in the past with several other similar features, shorts, and shows.
The boom of serial killer movies of the late 1990s and early 2000s (Gacy, Dahmer, Ed Gein, etc.) all offered up basically the same formula, of a loose interpretation from the killer’s perspective, much in the same vein of TV shows like Bates Motel, Hannibal, etc which also presented the killer as a handsome, charismatic main character, and no one made much of a stink about any of these before. The simple fact is, with the internet generation in full effect, it’s easy to market things as controversial and harmful, and that absolutely works to draw more viewers, just like Howard Stern did in the past, with the love it or hate it, you have to see it for yourself approach.
So, as for the show itself. Is it realistic? Of course not. The facts are cherry picked and the “true crime” is very liberally laced into a fictitious narrative for the sake of entertainment. But is it really all that harmful? No more so than anything else. If you try and watch this as an actual, legitimate true-crime story, you’ll likely be either very disappointed, or you’ll just be accepting a lot of falsehoods as truth. That said, if you just watch this as any other fictional story, it’s a fine enough production that’s well shot, well acted, and well put together. It’s not the best thing floating around on Netflix right now by any stretch, but it’s definitely not bad, either.
The Bottom Line:
Overall, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Buddy Tapes is little more than another rehash of the same old serial killer story you’ve seen dozens of times before. There’s nothing really groundbreaking or revolutionary at work here, and it’s mostly just a lot of sizzle from a rather bland steak. Again, it’s not that bad, but it’s not that good, it’s just another something to pass the time while scrolling through your Netflix queue. – 5.0/10
Editor/Staff Writer: Nerd Nation Magazine