Archive Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

This film didn’t get a release in my area, so I never got to see it when it came out.  So excited to finally see what all the fuss was about.

Certificate: 15

Director: Joe Berlinger

Screenwriter: Elizabeth Kendall (based on the book by), Michael Werwie

Starring: Lily Collins, Zac Efron, Angela Sarafyan

Genre: Biography, Crime

Runtime: 110 Minutes

Rating: 4 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Single mother Liz (Lily Collins) thinks she’s found the man of her dreams in Ted (Zac Efron). But their seemingly perfect life is turned upside down when Ted is arrested on suspected kidnapping charges, then linked to murders in multiple states. Adamant that he’s being framed, the showman and former law student defends himself in America’s first nationally televised trial while Liz struggles to come to terms with the truth. Adapted from the nonfiction memoir by Elizabeth Kendall (aka Liz Kloepfer) Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile recounts how she was manipulated for years by a seemingly adoring boyfriend, yet future death row inmate, Ted Bundy. – Written by Netflix

Known now as one of history’s most famous serial killers, it is hard to believe at the time, the audacity and charm that Bundy displayed throughout this entire ordeal.  And that is really what this film focusses on. There is little to no violence shown at all, instead we get to see the crazed murderer through the eyes of the people that knew him.  And Zac Efron does such a fantastic job of bringing that character to life.  When you compare the real news and TV footage of Bundy to that of Efron, he gets the mannerisms and gesticulation down to an art.  It is a truly chilling performance to watch, helped along by his uncanny likeness to Bundy and Efron’s natural charm.  If we didn’t already know everything about this murderer, we would be inclined to believe his innocence.

I don’t know however if a film about such brutal and violent murders should have such a humanizing effect on the perpetrator.  We really only see the charming and carefree man that was seen by the media and by his loved ones, only seeing a spark of violence towards the end.  It would have been more pertinent, even if only for movie purposes to see a few more sparks of that anger and violence throughout the film.  I don’t want to be made to feel sorry for Ted Bundy.

Props also should go to Lilly Collins who gives a fantastic and emotional performance here as Ted long term girlfriend Liz.  It’s heart-breaking to see the effect that his trial and conviction had on her life and a huge relief to see her overcome it at the end of the film.

It got a wide release in the US I believe, but here in the UK we didn’t get any kind of theatrical release at all. So, for those in the UK that may have missed this one, It is well worth a watch, especially for true crimes fans like myself. 

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