Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019)

extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile poster 2019 movie zac efron
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 6/10

Zac Efron is a good Ted Bundy

Needed more direction and a stronger perspective on the storytelling

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

Studio:  COTA Films

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  January 26, 2019 (Sundance)/May 3, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile liz kendall ted bundy kiss zac efron lily collins

You’re such a dreamy psychopath, Ted!

Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) has met a man who could mean the world to her…his name is Ted Bundy (Zac Efron).  When Ted becomes the subject of an investigation into multiple rapes and murders, Liz finds herself questioning if the man she loves could be responsible.  Ted is facing trial, and the events revealed might be more than Liz ever wanted to believe.

Directed by Joe Berlinger, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a biopic drama based on the arrest and trial of Ted Bundy.  The film developed from the Joe Berlinger documentary Conversations with a Killer:  The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019) and based upon the 1981 book The Phantom Prince:  My Life with Ted Bundy by Elizabeth Kendall.  The film premiered at Sundance and premiered on Netflix on May 3, 2019.  It received mixed reviews.

I remember Ted Bundy being executed vividly.  It was middle school, and I remember the joke being the school was serving “Bundy Burgers” (crude I know, but hey it was middle school).  I didn’t really know much about Bundy then and I learned much about his crimes other than they were prolific.  Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a mixed bag that if nothing else takes a different approach to the serial killer genre.

extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile ted bundy court zac efron

It is like a crazy version of Matlock

The movie seems a bit undefined.  Since it is based on her book, it feels like it is about Liz Kendall…but then it doesn’t really develop her.  It kind of puts more attention to the idea of respecting the victims by not showing the crimes, but it also doesn’t really develop here.  You could argue that it is about the legal system and the bizarre court case, but it takes a long time to get to that portion of the film.

I do credit Zac Efron for his portrayal of Bundy.  Bundy had an odd charm to him as seen by real interviews with women drawn to the trial.  Efron manages to get the charm, but he’s also too charming to be real which I imagine the real Ted Bundy would have been.  He’s backed up by a good cast with Lily Collins as his costar, and the film also features roles by Dylan Baker, Jim Parson, Haley Joel Osment, and John Malkovich as the showboat judge.

extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile zac efron ted bundy murder

Volkswagen Beetle…the unpopular choice for serial killers

The series doesn’t focus on the crime and primarily becomes a courtroom drama.  The movie feels like it could be more stylized.  The movie could have made more use from the documentary aspect and the fact that Bundy’s life and trial was presented on TV.  The series does show some of the recreated scenes at the film’s conclusion, but I think a creative mix would have been more interest.

With a ton of attention to Efron’s portrayal (which isn’t bad), the film feels almost like a novelty rather than a solid telling of any events.  It feels like it needed a firm direction and a firm perspective to the storytelling instead of such a divided viewpoint.  The result is a rather flat movie that is somewhat bland and overly long…that is something that hasn’t been said about Ted Bundy often.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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