Title – Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
Director – Joe Berlinger (Metallica: Some Kind of Monster)
Cast – Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Brian Geraghty, Jeffrey Donovan, Hayley Joel Osmont, Kaya Scodelario
Plot – The look at the televised trial of convicted murderer Ted Bundy (Efron) and his relationship with both Liz Kendall (Collins) and Carole Anne Boone (Scodelario), both of whom struggled to see Bundy as a killer after first seeing him as a companion.
“People don’t realize that there are killers among them”
Review by Eddie on 07/05/2019
Making one thing crystal clear, Joe Berlinger’s Ted Bundy focussed feature Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (based on a real-life statement made concerning Bundy’s crimes, but not a great title regardless) is not a comprehensive Bundy bio, with little insight into his thought process, upbringing or motivators, as Berlinger instead shines a spotlight on his relationship with two key woman and his trial in front of a national television audience.
Those viewers that were anticipating getting more of a warts and all Bundy experience are far better suited at checking out Netflix’s other Bundy themed event The Ted Bundy Tapes, which gives viewers the opportunity to hear from the man himself about his life, crimes and deeply depraved thoughts.
Berlinger here showcases Bundy as more of a rock star, a charming rogue that somehow convinced many that he was merely a scapegoat for the American justice system for a collection of horrifying murders that shocked the nation in the 1970’s and early 80s. It’s an odd, sometimes bad, sometimes brilliant attempt at offering a different angle of a man that is the very definition of a monster.
Based on Bundy’s one-time girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall’s book The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy (here played by a relatively short changed Lily Collins, spending most of her screentime cuddling a grown up Sixth Sense kid), detailing her relationship with the serial killer that saw her fall in love with the more human side of the man, Extremely Wicked loses sight of its most important angle on a well-known story by shunning Collins for much of the screen-time to instead turn its attention to Zac Efron’s incarnation of Bundy.
This is both a good and bad thing for Berlinger’s film, as Efron is quietly menacing and totally charming as Bundy in what’s finally the high-profile role the actor has been craving ever since he graduated from High School Musical.
Glimpsed in part in The Paperboy and Me and Orson Welles, Extremely Wicked provides Efron with a whole new lease on the acting life and Berlinger seemingly knows and understands this ace up his sleeve, as all else within his film gets swept aside to let Efron strut his stuff in the lead role.
You can’t help but feel however the central and driving relationship between Kendall and Bundy gets washed over the further we dive into the film and while the film starts out in a way that suggests this will be the key core to the tale, by the films middle and end stretches it only ever feels half explored at best.
The other issue for Berlinger’s film is the style he goes for, with quick edits, time jumps and often unfocused direction, Extremely Wicked does come across as more of a TV like movie, not a fully-fledged feature, no doubt part of the reason why Netflix ended up with the distribution rights for this film that was at one staged touted as a potential awards player.
Final Say –
There’s a few standout scenes in Berlinger’s film (the final conversation between Kendall and Bundy is skin crawling) and features a memorable Zac Efron turn but Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile feels like a missed opportunity to deeply explore the relationships in Ted Bundy’s life that may’ve allowed us to gain further insight in the mind of one of the most nefarious yet brilliantly calculated killers the world has ever known.
2 ½ VW Beetles out of 5