The controversial biopic about Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo, a duo so horrifyingly notorious they serve as their own adjectives, opens here next week. The Globe wonders what kind of shot it has at the box office in these parts, where most of us must be “Homolka’d out” by now, and CTV.ca has some words from the lawyer representing the victims’ families. The movie is being touted as “true crime” (as opposed, we suppose, to horror), but we can’t help but wonder why this is a story that needed to be told on film.
We recognize that it must be difficult for anyone who grew up in southern Ontario in the early nineties to be objective about this story – we quite clearly remember the whole horrible saga, from the disappearance of those poor girls (only a couple of years older than us, and just a few miles down the lake) to the arrest and, finally, conviction of Bernardo. But would we feel as strongly if it had all taken place somewhere in, say, Alabama? If we hadn’t been bombarded with news coverage of his horrifying acts throughout our early adolescence? Probably not. It would probably feel the same as fiction, sad and scary, but distant and safely unreal. That’s probably how it feels wherever else in North America Karla is being released – ooh, look, the girl from That 70′s Show plays a serial killer! But that’s not how it feels here. Here, it feels a little exploitative and violating. We don’t feel right ignoring this film, but neither do we feel good about giving it a lot of attention.
Torontoist doubts we will be able to stomach the movie ourselves, but we will be very interested to see what kind of response it gets, from both critics and local audiences.
Edited to add a link to another creepy Homolka story: It seems that a former friend and colleague of Homolka jumped on the profiteering bandwagon and put a collection of letters between Homolka and Bernardo up for sale on eBay. The listing has been dropped, but (and here’s the creepiest part) the bidding had climbed up over $1600.