With so many Ted Bundy movies on the horizon, not only is it difficult to keep up, but it also raises the question of whether they are really needed.
Over the past few weeks and months we’ve had a trailer for No man of god – which stars the Lord of the Rings alum Elijah Wood as former FBI agent Bill Hagmaier and The wonderful Mrs. Maisel‘s Luke Kirby as Bundy – as well as the announcement that A tree hillChad Michael Murray would portray the notorious killer for a film titled American Boogeyman.
These projects follow on from Joe Berlinger’s Netflix documentary, Conversations with a killer: Ted Bundy’s Tapes and his feature film, Extremely Mean, incredibly bad and vile, with Zac Efron in the lead role. The first was released to mark the 30th anniversary of Bundy’s execution; he was convicted in 1979 and sentenced to death, and is believed to have killed between 30 (the official number) and 100 women, including a young girl of just 12 years old.
The disturbing nature of his crimes coupled with the drama of his capture (he escaped detention twice) fueled a media story that crossed state lines in the 1970s, and his eventual trial became a media show. After his placement on death row, Bundy continued to inspire documentaries, blockbusters and podcasts – the kind of attention he’s known to relish, once telling FBI agents he didn’t care. of what their book about him said “as long as he sells”.
Ethical dilemmas still plague the true genre of crime, and with studios and directors still trying to rehash this particular story, many are starting to wonder if it’s time to leave it alone.
When does the line between insight and exploitation blur? When does legitimate intrigue turn into crass sensationalism?
Zac Efron has previously argued that he has assumed Extremely nasty out of a sense of duty to the victims. But when the old Musical High School poster boy was first released, the film was instantly engulfed in a backlash. The headlines were awash with fears that the project would “glamorize” or “glorify” the historic killer. It was a guess based largely on whether Efron is fun to watch, but it turned out to be entirely part of the movie’s purpose.
For director Joe Berlinger, whose back catalog includes lost paradise (a documentary series that advocated for justice in the West Memphis Three case) the main emphasis was on education and awareness. Having been surprised to learn that his own daughters did not know Bundy, he was inspired to present to a new generation the lessons that can be learned from such a case; namely, that Bundy did not embrace the stereotypes of “strange loner” or “social outcast” that have become synonymous with serial killers.
Extremely nasty decidedly devious depictions of Bundy’s violence, only showing his true nature at the very end once his longtime girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall – in her way, another of his victims – saw him for what ‘it was. For some, this approach compounded the idea that the film was sanitizing or glorifying Bundy. For others, it took the audience on the manipulative journey that plagued them.
In contrast, Netflix Ted Bundy Ribbons has also been criticized, but this time for its inclusion of Bundy’s own disturbing accounts of his actions. Not easy to listen to, any day of the week. But even then, the documentary series still didn’t detail some of the more graphic things it did to its victims – an omission that in itself also sparked disapproval.
It is clear that, whatever the chosen path, there will inevitably be some who will not be happy. Even those with extensive knowledge of the Bundy case, including those producing content about it, cannot agree on the appropriate approach.
The aforementioned project director Elijah Wood recently had a public disagreement with Joe Berlinger about it, after reaching out privately to express concerns that she had discredited her own work as a Bundy while promoting the his.
No man of godAmber Sealey posted this email from Berlinger to Instagram and invited him to see his own movie so they could continue the discussion in person.
In a statement to Variety, Berlinger said: “To promote his film on the rape and murder of women by demolishing my film which was designed to be a victim-centered film on the psychology of betrayal and deception, made with the Full support of victim Liz Kendall, played by Lily Collins, and was supported by other victims of Bundy’s crimes felt intellectually dishonest. ”
While it’s not clear which of Sealey’s interviews he was specifically referring to, she has spoken before (via Refinery29) about the feeling that there was a huge void in Bundy’s narrative despite its many, many on-screen portrayals.
“I was definitely intimidated that there had been so many movies about him,” Sealey said. “And then I thought, if there’s got to be another one, I’m going to make it stand out from the rest of the crowd.
“Personally, I don’t believe any of the movies that have been made so far have really shown the real Bundy. They still glorify him. They make him a male role model – so smart, so charismatic, a master of disguise. I don’t see that. When I watch him, watch interviews and listen to tapes, I see a deeply anxious, needy type of guy – almost like an incel – who just wants praise and wants people to tell him how awesome he is. “
Obviously, there are many different fragments that make up the overall picture of Bundy’s story, and it would be nearly impossible to tick all of the boxes in a single story. While we would say that Berlinger’s documentary and film had their merits, especially as their perspectives complemented each other, there is also something to be said about the anticipation of a woman’s approach to it. story in film form.
As for putting Bundy back on billboards in the future, the jury is out on whether that might be a good thing. But when it comes to real crime, the question should always be: is there more to learn?
No man of god will be released in theaters in August. Ted Bundy’s Tapes is available on Netflix, and Extremely mean, incredibly evil and vile is available NOW.
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