Time: 108 Minutes
Zac Efron as Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Lily Collins as Elizabeth “Liz” Kendall
Kaya Scodelario as Carole Ann Boone
John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart
Jeffrey Donovan as John O’Connell
Angela Sarafyan as Joanna
Dylan Baker as David Yocom
Brian Geraghty as Dan Dowd
Jim Parsons as Larry Simpson
Haley Joel Osment as Jerry Thompson
Director: Joe Berlinger
A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother (Lily Collins) reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy (Zac Efron).
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was a movie I was curious about. With it being a movie about Ted Bundy, and with the cast involved (especially with Zac Efron playing Bundy) I was interested, but wasn’t really sure how the movie would be. Having seen it, I can say that the performances were very good and it was kind of interesting to watch, however doesn’t quite reach its fullest potential.
First thing to note is that the director Joe Berlinger directed earlier this year Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a Netflix series about Ted Bundy. I’ve never seen it but it seems that the film is helmed by someone who knows a lot of the subject matter. It is worth knowing going in that Extremely Wicked is mostly a court case sort of movie, and the court case scenes start much earlier than expected. You don’t actually see Efron’s Bundy kill anyone (for the most part), you do hear about some of his crimes but that’s it. The first half of the movie was alright, as it shows Ted with his girlfriend Liz as suspicions about him being a serial killer build up over time. I did feel like it dragged a little bit and didn’t have me fully invested. The second half is where the movie picks up, as it heads towards the main court case, with John Malkovich as the judge and Jim Parsons as the prosecutor. From there it’s much more interesting to watch what is happening. The thing that probably let down the movie mostly was the weak script. I think one of the biggest problems is that the movie from the beginning seems to intend on seeing Bundy through his girlfriend’s perspective. However, he gets arrested pretty early on and we don’t really get to spend much time with the two of them together before or during this period, and the movie breezes right through it. The second half of the movie almost abandons this approach, with the majority of it being a bunch of court cases and then once in a while cuts to Liz hearing about what’s going on. It’s like they really didn’t know what approach they should take and so tried to do everything. A lot of people were worrying that the film was going to glorify Bundy but I’m not sure how anyone could think that after watching the movie. In fact, I think it played much of the movie way too safely, like it deliberately feels caged in and restricted to avoid controversy. As I don’t know much about Ted Bundy, I was reasonably interested watching the movie but come to think of it I don’t think I’ve learned a whole lot more about him than I did before watching it. I feel like people who already know a lot about him or have watched The Ted Bundy Tapes won’t get anything more out of it, outside of the acting.
Zac Efron gives his career best performance as Ted Bundy, he is great here. Efron effortlessly conveys Bundy’s charm and you can see why so many people could be tricked by him and got away with so much. The first half of the movie you really just see Efron’s charismatic side and it’s a while before you really get to see the darker aspects. In the second half though you really get some glimpses of Bundy’s more serial killer side, even without showing any killings on screen, and he’s excellent in the last 20 minutes. I do feel like Efron wasn’t really able to fully embody Bundy as the movie only shows certain sides to him. It was good for what we got though, and at the very least it shows that Efron is more than up to the task for playing much more challenging roles. Lily Collins was also really good as Bundy’s girlfriend Liz and considering that the character really wasn’t handled the best in the story, Collins elevated the role with her performance. It’s a little difficult to buy their relationship as in the early stages of the movie, their moments together are just shown in montages and we don’t really get a chance to see it unfold, so some of the relationship isn’t fully convincing. Not that they have bad chemistry or anything, both of them work together on screen well, it’s just that we didn’t get enough of it. The rest of the cast, which consists of Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment and more also played their roles well.
Joe Berlinger directed this movie fine enough, there’s nothing wrong with how he handled the movie, the cinematography, editing and all the rest are competent enough, just nothing special or noteworthy worth mentioning.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a decent enough movie but isn’t as great as it could’ve been. The movie didn’t seem to know what angle it was going to take on the story, whether it be from the perspective of the girlfriend or to be a court case movie, and it’s a little messy all round. Weak script aside, from what I can gather, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you don’t know a lot about Bundy beforehand, as it doesn’t show or reveal a whole lot about him. As someone who really didn’t know much about him beforehand, I liked it but I can see how others didn’t get much out of it. With that said, it does pick up with the second half, and Efron and Collins give some really good performances and I think that’s enough to make the movie worth watching. If you have Netflix and you are curious about it, then definitely give it a watch.