Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
extremely wicked shockingly evil and vile | joe berlinger | michael werwie | lily collins | zac efron | angela sarafyan | ted bundy | true story | biography | crime | drama | thriller | jeffrey donovan | dylan baker | haley joel osment | john malkovich | jim parsons
Film: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Director: Joe Berlinger
Writer: Michael Werwie
Starring: Lily Collins, Zac Efron and Angela Sarafyan
This was a film that I was quite excited to check out. I remember when this was first announced that Zac Efron would be playing the role of Ted Bundy and it was something that definitely fit for me. I even have written a couple articles for a site about this film as well. The synopsis is courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy.
We start with Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) waiting in a prison visiting room. Ted comes in and he pretty elated to see her. She isn’t there for a social call and she asks him why he did what he did. He’s still adamant in his denial.
It then shifts to the past. Liz is at a college bar with her friend Joanna (Angela Sarafyan). Liz was just out of a relationship and Joanna is trying to get her back out there. Liz though has self-esteem that she is a single mother and works as a secretary. That night she meets the charming Ted Bundy, who ends up taking her home. It is there she reveals that she has a daughter. This doesn’t bother him and he stays the night. The following morning he is making breakfast and watching her child.
From there the two of become a couple and everything seems normal. With a bit of a voice-over, we learn that there are disappearances and murders in the Seattle area. They know the man’s name is Ted and that he drives a Volkswagen Bug. The police sketch really does look like Liz’s amazing boyfriend.
Things take when he is pulled over and they find supplies in the backseat that could be used to kidnap people in Utah. The disappearances shifted to there when he moved to the new state. Liz is upset and Ted tells her he didn’t do anything. Along with his lawyer, John O’Connell (Jeffrey Donovan), they try to go about proving his innocence. The truth of what Ted really did though is much darker than Liz can even imagine. This all culminates in Florida with the first nationwide trial.
Now I wanted to go a bit vague to start off this review as I’m assuming many people have seen documentaries or know roughly the true story of the events. I found this film to actually be quite intriguing in the fact that this is being based off of book that the real Liz Kendall wrote. We really get this film from her point of view for the most part and the effects seeing Ted had on her. I do have to say, that really tugged at my heartstrings.
It is crazy the events of Ted’s life and the things that he did. It really does make for a good film in that way for sure. This actually has the two escape attempts by him, going to Florida where it ended up being his undoing. To go along with this though, we also see how someone like Ted could get away with the things he did. At the end there is even a line about how we think that the monster is going to look hideous, when the truth the matter is the opposite. The thing is though, we are more likely to have a killer like Ted whose looks and charisma would allow him to do what he did.
I did see from a fellow person in the horror community complaining about the film being boring. I found this to be interesting, but I could definitely see where he is coming from. What really causes this in my opinion is that director Joe Berlinger is a documentary filmmaker. This film though isn’t a documentary, definitely has that feel with how it presents the information. We never see any of the kills and it is really just the personal side of things.
Another issue I see being brought up is this film glorifying Ted. I didn’t really get that from the film. I think it does a really good job at embodying that he was attractive and that women loved him. It makes it worse though is that he was such a manipulator. Going even farther from that, I could see how he could some of things he did and it is crazy someone could do the things he did with no remorse.
I personally didn’t find this film to be boring, but as I said, nothing really happens. I think that it does present the information much like a documentary would present them. It is very matter of fact. I can’t really give the film too much credit though in building tension. I know what is going to happen and how things end for him. I did think that it did well in bringing the events to life. The one thing I will say, this film isn’t horror aside from the subject matter.
The best part of the film though has to be the acting. Efron was absolutely amazing as Ted. He is such a scumbag, yet women loved him. There were so many that didn’t think he did it. Efron has such a charisma and way about him that really brought this monster to life. I was very impressed with Collins as well. She is someone who is already struggling with self-esteem due to her life situation. Seeing her break down and turn to alcohol to cope really hurt me. The guilt she is carrying, even though unfounded, was powerful. This film had quite the cast that really did a great job. Some of the standouts are Dylan Baker, Haley Joel Osment, Terry Kinney, Brian Geraghty, Jim Parsons and John Malkovich. I really do have to commend Osment as well for his role in this film.
As to the effects of the film, there really aren’t any. Since we never seen any of the deaths, all we get were the real photographs from the case. That really is impactful if I’m going to be completely honest. The film is also shot very well.
Now with that said, this film I actually did end up enjoying. It does have its issue, but I thought it was interesting to bring to life Ted Bundy with Zac Efron and to see him all grown up from High School: The Musical. He is actually really impressing me with his acting for sure. The pacing is a bit weird being that it feels like a documentary and plus this is a story I already know. The rest of the acting was great as well, with a special shout-out to Collins. There aren’t really any effects as it never shows us any of the deaths. The soundtrack of the film I thought was fitting to help bring the time period to life. I thought this was a good film and I would definitely recommend giving it a viewing if you are interested in this monstrous human being. I will re-iterate this film isn’t really horror in my opinion aside from the subject matter.
My Rating: 8 out of 10