Movie Review: ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’

With the release of "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" to Netflix on May 3, Writer Katie Rodriguez provides her take on the most recent iteration of Ted Bundy's life.

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Movie Review: ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Katie Rodriguez, Writer

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Why tell a story that has already been told a million times? Director Joe Berlinger argues that what sets “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” apart from the many other narrations mimicking the reign of terror of one of the most infamous serial killers in modern history, Ted Bundy, is perspective. The movie is meant to depict the unique perspective of Liz Kendall, played by Lily Collins, Bundy’s long-term girlfriend and fiancée. Afterall, it claims to be based on her memoir.

Collins takes on the role with grace, conveying the emotional journey of the blind faith a in significant other overtaken by creeping suspicion and the years of guilt and emotional turmoil that followed his initial arrest. However, Zac Efron, playing Ted Bundy, is undeniably the center of attention throughout the film.

The movie spends a lot of time replicating many of the exact and infamous televised scenes from Bundy’s trials, specifically those that were most heavily in the public eye. Efron does an outstanding job of capturing Bundy, both the charismatic persona he was known for and the deep damage lurking beneath the surface. While, some may argue Efron’s almost frightening resemblance to Bundy in side-by-side comparisons gives positive credit to the film, the focus on such exactly replicated scenes is almost as unfortunate as that name.

The concept of exploring deeper into Bundy’s charming personality, which hid many horrors behind it, by the person who was arguably the most charmed and fooled by it, is a premise with extensive potential. But, Berlinger wastes it by getting to caught up in recreating sensationalized scenes that audiences have already seen, missing the opportunity to delve deeper into Kendall’s tumultuous journey and the torture of discovering a loved one capable of committing such atrocious acts.

That being said, the movie, a Netflix original, is still worth watching, if simply to see Efron’s impressive portrayal of Bundy. However, due to the narrative sequence of the film, I would recommend watching the documentary “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” which is also on Netflix, prior to watching “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” The insight on Bundy’s life and crimes will allow for a better understanding of the movie, as it seems to be based on the idea that those watching are already familiar with the story.