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Review

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is an unnerving reminder that bad things can hide in pretty packages

Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Ted Bundy. Elizabeth Kloepfer
Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and Lily Collins as Liz Kloepfer in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Pic credit: Brian Douglas/Netflix

Netflix’s latest offering about the serial killer, Ted Bundy, is as unsettling as it is informative. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile tells the story from the perspective of Ted Bundy’s girlfriend, Elizabeth “Liz” Kloepfer (also known by the pen name of Liz Kendall).

Are you one of those people (like me) who has ever laid awake at night and wondered at how women can be attracted to bad guys? Especially the likes of serial killers such as Ted Bundy? Well, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile delves into how men such as Bundy can get underneath the skins of women — literally and figuratively.

Starring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is pure genius. As someone who has a teenage daughter, I have seen my share of Zac Efron musicals. The actor has turned away from his wholesome persona in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile to take on the role of the notoriously charismatic Bundy. And this is why this movie is so utterly chilling. I dare you to not like Efron’s interpretation of Bundy. And, if you are wondering at just how accurately depicted Efron’s version is, the movie shows real footage of Bundy at the end, so you can freak out completely at how well he has replicated the psycho.

Often, the viewer finds themselves catching their breath and having to remind themselves that this is not Zac Efron but a man who was convicted of some absolutely heinous and deplorable acts against women and corpses. Which means the viewer is often unsettled by just how much they want to believe Bundy’s lies. Maybe he is being mixed up with someone else, perhaps he is being personally attacked.

While many are saying that the casting of Zac Efron as Ted Bundy has glorified the actions of the serial killer, I disagree. Without the constant reminder of the actor who is normally considered so wholesome, the viewer would not be quite so unnerved throughout the movie.

Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, promotional still
Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and Lily Collins as his girlfriend, Liz. Pic credit: Brian Douglas

As Digital Spy points out, the director of this movie, Joe Berlinger, has gone on the record to state his opinion regarding the glorification of Ted Bundy in this movie.

“By the end of the movie, he is exactly where he should be. He’s alone, miserable, on death row, about to be executed. The one person he cares for has rejected him, and, in the most fundamental way, has held him to account – which is very important. I feel that some of the criticism you’re referring to are people who aren’t really watching the film.”

Berenger also states that the movie aims to portray “the psychology of deception and betrayal,” something which I feel this movie really does achieve as viewers discover just how easy it is to fall under the charms of someone like Bundy.

While Efron unsettles the audience, Lily Collins’ portrayal of Bundy’s longtime girlfriend, Liz, also helps to reinforce the deception of Bundy as a character who can be trusted. Liz is not stupid, however, she still manages to come under the spell of Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. What is even more disturbing is how Bundy creates a perfect life with Liz and her daughter from a previous relationship. And, even as his world begins to crumble, Liz continues to believe his lies.

Movie poster for Netflix's Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, movie poster. Pic credit: Netflix

Collins told the Daily Mail that she helped to develop her character by meeting the real Liz during filming.

“I went and met the woman that I play. It was really helpful. She was so gracious, giving me material to look at and speaking to me.”

While the story leading up to Bundy’s initial arrest in interesting, where Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile excels is when it is delving into the way in which women flocked to this case. During Bundy’s court appearances, women turned up in large numbers and it has gone on record that they did this because they considered Bundy to be attractive. This is even after the details of his crimes had emerged. And, it is something I really wish this movie had explored in greater detail.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile drops globally on Netflix on Friday, May 3, 2019, as well as in selected theaters.


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