Cast: Zac Efron, Lily Collins, Kaya Scodelario, Jeffrey Donovan
Director: Joe Berlinger
Well there aren’t too many guarantees in Hollywood, but one of them has to be that movies about serial killers will be captivating. The ability to focus on someone who violates every code of ethics that humanity has created is interesting and shows us the way people live when they go against everything we’ve established as right. We’ve seen some fantastic psychological performances over the years, but Efron has a case to be made that his role as prolific serial killer Ted Bundy is the best one in a while. Carried by Efron’s stunning lead performance, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile isn’t your traditional serial killer movie, but one that should be near the top of everyone’s watch list on Netflix.
The film follows Ted Bundy (Efron) and his relationship with his girlfriend Liz Kendall (Collins). What starts off as a seemingly normal relationship spirals into a situation where Ted is charged with heinous crimes across multiple states making Liz question her entire relationship with Ted. The thing that makes Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile unique is it really doesn’t focus on Ted’s actions exactly, but more about the people indirectly impacted by them. If you thought it would be 108 minutes of Ted killing girls and finally getting caught, you might end up disappointed as it ends up being more of a courtroom drama with humanizing moments for Bundy’s loved ones. While that may not be what you were looking for, Efron’s performance as Bundy is absolutely what you came to see and he makes the most of his time in the limelight. One of the things I find most valuable in a psychological performance is the ability to draw an audience in with their eyes, and Efron does a fantastic job of being charismatic enough to charm audiences yet creepy enough to give off the inhumane look in his eyes that shows the twisted individual that lies beneath. Efron’s performance is so good that even though I know the events surrounding the plot and the end results, he convinced me that he was actually innocent and set up for things he didn’t do. It makes you feel like you were a member of the real-life audiences that were so infatuated by Bundy that they thought he was truly innocent. I know Efron is more well-known for comedic and light-hearted movies, but this shows us he has true acting chops and is ready to take the next step in dramatic performances. It looks like he’s going to stay with more commercially-friendly movies for the near future, but he can absolutely switch out to something more challenging should he want to. Of course Collins is almost as equally important to the success of the movie as Efron is as she stabilizes the plot and adds the human element missing from Bundy. I understand why some people may not like this movie because it’s untraditional and takes a while to really come into its own, but Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is one of the better movies on Netflix’s catalog and is a good Saturday night movie to watch with a crowd.
Overall, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile has enough going for it where it can overcome some of the pacing issues and create an atmosphere of both fear and empathy. When you have such a heinous character like Bundy as your subject, you have to pick an angle to film from and run with it. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’s angle is unconventional and may not work for everyone, but it has moments of success and strong performances to help it balance itself and create a memorable viewing experience.
Overall Score: 6.5/10