Netflix’s latest movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile tells the story about notorious serial killer Ted Bundy(Zac Efron) a bit differently than what we’ve previously seen before, through the eyes of Elizabeth Kloepfer played by Lily Collins. Elizabeth, a single mother, was Ted’s long-term girlfriend. Someone who he seemingly loved with all his heart. Little did she know he was a sadistic, evil man who killed at least 30 women in his time.
This is the Ted that Liz, members of the media and the public for that matter saw. The incredibly intelligent, charismatic and charming man who portrayed himself as a real boy next door.
Shortly after we meet Ted and Liz, his problems begin and we get to see his struggles as the law begins to close in on him from a random traffic stop that leads to his arrest to the various courts and law officials building a case around him. We also get to witness his extreme intelligence as he orchestrates not 1 but 2 different prison breaks and as we see him interject himself into his own trial by objecting. When he does this the judge asks on what grounds and he presents a reasonable argument and actually wins his objection and subsequently takes over his own defense at the trail. Judge Cowart even states “You’re a bright young man. You would have made a good lawyer and I would have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner.” during his now famous closing speech to Bundy.
The thing about Efron’s performance is that I found him to be very very good but something was missing in the end. It wasn’t difficult to see that he had put a lot of himself into this role. Not only does he do that good looking boy next door with the smile that mesmerizes but he displays splashes of evil and wickedness that comes through when needed. It’s chilling and I was blown away by how accurate his words and mannerisms were. I actually went back and sought out video footage just to see how accurate he was and I think Zac deserves some accolades for a pretty fantastic performance. While all this is going Elizabeth struggles with work and life in general. She’s grief stricken with the idea that she had let this man into her home, into her daughter’s life and shared so many intimate moments with this monster. She still wants to believe that he’s innocent all the while knowing deep down that he probably is the man police are looking for. Afterall.. She is the one who called the police and gave them his name when the first composite sketch came out because it did sort of look like him.
So what was missing? Well.. I guess for a lack of better words… the extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile side of who Ted Bundy was. We hear about the acts that he performed but there’s no display of his true wicked nature. I think that Zac Efron’s performance was so good that we all could have benefited from seeing him really show that side of Bundy. I’m not saying I need to see the gratuitous violence but I sure would have liked to see a little more about that. Sure we got a bit of a taste of it but it’s all after the fact.
In my opinion, the movie and Zac Efron really shines through during the court scenes. His banter with judge Edward Cowart (played by John Malkovich)was simply outstanding and the way he represented himself was just awesome. Ted Bundy’s trial was the first in the history of the US to be televised live. For all intents and purposes, he was the first Serial Killer that was really given the pop culture sort of treatment. Some of these girls really thought he was innocent and to be fair.. there were moments where I did too. I know the story and still I felt sort of bamboozled by Efron’s performance.
I loved just how accurate Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was. From the performance of Zac Efron to the playful banter with Judge Edward Cowart who called him “partner” like an old school cowboy they I really enjoyed this movie. I’m now a fan of Zac Efron and I hope he gets the opportunity to perform a role like this again in the future.