Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is now streaming on Netflix.
By Rachel M.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile charts the double life of one of the most notorious serial killers of all time, Ted Bundy (Zac Efron). Told from the perspective of Bundy’s long-term girlfriend Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins), and with a script based on her memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy, the film explores how Bundy, a smooth-talking, handsome murderer was able to charm so many while leaving a trail of bodies in his wake. As Bundy is charged with increasingly grotesque crimes and plays a game of cat and mouse with authorities across several state lines, Kloepfer is left alone to consider the truth about the love of her life.
Set over about ten years time, from when Ted and Liz (already a single mother) meet through his execution, a good portion of the film focuses on his trial. Since it was the first nationally televised trial in the United States, the film was able to recreate much of the real-life courtroom dialogue. The violence remains mostly offscreen with Berlinger focusing more on Bundy’s psyche. Additionally, perspective is provided on how Kloepfer must deal with her boyfriend being tried for these horrendous crimes. Ted wants her to stick by him as he truly believes he can be vindicated and they can make a life together. Liz’s friends and colleagues (including Haley Joel Osment) work to try to get her to forget him.
Zac Efron gives an excellent performance, with a range of emotion. He is both charismatic and crazy. Conniving and brazen, he tries to act as his own attorney and also manage press coverage of his story. When Liz will not support him, he is able to convince another girlfriend, Carol Anne Boone (Kaya Scodelario) to remain at his side. For much of the film, Kloepfer is portrayed as fairly one dimensional, but more lies beneath the surface. With cameos by Jim Parsons and John Malkovich, the film builds to the courtroom climax. Since the ending of Ted’s story is known to viewers, the goal is really to understand how Liz and her daughter can move on in the face of what has transpired.
I give Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile an A-.