Release Date: May 3 on Netflix
Director: Joe Berlinger
Starring: Zac Efron, Lilly Collins, and Kaya Scodelario
Mister Marquee Says: Meh
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (that’s it, I’m shortening that name) follows serial killer Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) and his longtime girlfriend Liz (Lilly Collins) as Bundy is captured and tried in multiple states for his series of murders of young women. The handsome, charming Bundy maintains his innocence and claims to be setup. Liz must deal with the media coverage and the evidence available and how that paints the man she loves.
How can you do a better job at the Ted Bundy story than the media circus of the late 70’s already did? Bundy was a bonafide TV star, and his trial was broadcast on live television. We all know the story by now. We know he did it, we know how it ends, where is the suspense? This is the problem so many known true crime movies have.
There’s also another hurdle director Joe Berlinger and co. have to contend with: how do you make a movie about an undeniably interesting character like Bundy without glamorizing him? This is a tricky situation because part of what makes Bundy so terrifying is that he was extremely handsome and charming. He acted as his own defense attorney, he escaped prison twice. He had hordes of women, the very people he brutalized and murdered, cheering him on in court and writing him fan letters.
What can’t be forgotten is how many lives he ruined with his crimes. This movie isn’t about the crimes, and it doesn’t try to glamorize Bundy, and really isn’t about him. It’s more about Liz and how she grapples with the complex emotions that come out of loving someone so deeply and finding out they’re a monster, complete with denial and guilt.
The problem with that is Liz spends the bulk of the movie looking sad with a drink in her living room. It’s not very compelling stuff and Collins isn’t much to write home about. Efron, meanwhile, is excellent as Bundy. He doesn’t quite have the voice, but he absolutely nails Bundy’s mannerisms and general aura. Efron’s posture and quick smiles are dead on. Efron is the lead along with a couple other notable casting choices, with former child star Haley Joel Osment of The Six Sense and A.I. fame having a role, along with The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons playing against type as a Florida DA.
Aside from Efron’s acting, there really isn’t much to this movie. Efron is excellent though, and his central performance makes an otherwise lame effort watchable and entertaining.