I felt severely icky from start to finish.
Welcome back you guys!
I’ve spent the last two weeks traveling through Europe and now I’m back to my weekly review schedule! If anyone is interested, I had an amazing time visiting Ireland, Scotland, and England, three countries that I would recommend to anyone planning their next trip. It was an incredible and relaxing vacation, and now I’m totally refreshed and ready to cover all of the big May releases. Though I do apologize for missing the release of Avengers: Endgame (2019). However, I did get to spend two weeks drinking across the UK so I guess it kind of evens out don’t you think? Okay, let’s talk about Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)!
Based on true events, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile recounts the crimes of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, told through the eyes of his long-time girlfriend Elizabeth “Liz” Kendall. When Ted is accused of a string of heinous crimes, Liz faces an inner turmoil as she struggles between standing by the man she loves, and accepting the reality of the growing evidence.
Even before viewing, this movie had a lot going against it. For starters, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a Netflix original movie. Recently, I have been less than impressed by movies put out by the streaming service, as my review for The Perfect Date (2019) will tell you. By the way, you can check out that review here. Secondly, there’s the casting of Zac Efron as Bundy. Though undeniably charismatic and talented, I was doubtful that Efron had the dramatic chops to pull off a twisted character such as Bundy. Finally, there’s the inherent sense of ickiness that has plagued this movie since the trailer first dropped. Remember how it portrayed Bundy as some type of rock star? Almost glamorizing him, painting him as someone worth rooting for, and ultimately glossing over his horribleness? Turns out, that was exactly what Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was.
One of my biggest problems with this movie is that it’s supposed to be told through Kendall’s eyes. That’s how the movie was pitched, and I’m guessing one of the main reasons why it got greenlit in the first place. Well plot twist, the movie barely shows us Kendall’s perspective at all. Instead, we’re subjected to a nearly two-hour tale of a man named Ted, and his growing suspicions of how the police are essentially setting him up to take the fall for these grisly murders. Seriously, if you had no idea this movie was a Ted Bundy biopic, you’d think it was a thriller about an innocent man who strives to clear his name and prove to the world that the authorities have been railroading him with circumstantial evidence in order to fit the description of the true killer. Hey, that’d be a great story if this were a tale of fiction, but it’s not. Bundy was a real man who really murdered dozens of innocent people, and this movie skirts that issue to weave a tale of sympathy for Bundy. It’s borderline disgusting. There was even one point where Bundy was about to jump from a window and escape custody and I found myself thinking, “now’s your chance Ted, jump!” How messed up is that?
But that’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. It’s a tonally confused mess that isn’t sure what kind of message it’s attempting to get across. If I were to venture a guess, I’d say that the movie was trying to show just how easy it was for Bundy to garner sympathy from the media and general public. Bundy presented himself as a personable, attractive, intelligent man who was convinced he was being made into a scapegoat and I believe the movie wanted to show how easy it was to second-guess the validity of the evidence against him. If that’s the case then…eww, movie. This all relates to the aforementioned sense of ickiness that surrounds this movie.
Seriously, this movie did not need to be made. Was this really a story that needed to be told? In this way? I mean, I truly don’t intend to come off as a film snob, but if you’re interested in learning about the Bundy murders and get a true introspective look that accurately tells all sides of the story, just watch Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019). Coincidentally, the documentary is also on Netflix and bizarrely enough, also directed by Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile‘s director, Joe Berlinger. By the way, thank God I had watched the documentary beforehand. The movie often just assumes you know everything about the Bundy case and presents its information in a clustered and non-linear way. If this were my introduction to Bundy’s story, I would have been thoroughly lost. Couple that with the simplistic dialogue that sounds like the screenwriter just strung together different parts of Bundy’s Wikipedia page and you’ve got a script that won’t be winning any wards anytime soon. To say the script was less than insightful or engaging would be an understatement.
At the centre of this misguided attempt at a biopic is Efron. Admittedly, Efron is hands down the best part of this movie and deserves a lot of credit for delivering a performance that will shatter any image you previously held of the triple-threat frat boy. Excellently portraying the paranoia and desperation of the unhinged serial killer, Efron is at his best as his character continues to lose his grip on reality. His last scene with Kendall is especially electric and will leave you with chills.
Let’s talk about Lily Collins for a second. As Kendall, Collins does her best to make something of the role, but it’s an uphill battle when the character is pretty much summed up as,”I love Ted and think he’s innocent.” It’s such a weird choice to have her character be so underwritten considering the story is supposed to be told from her point of view. She isn’t even in any of the most important scenes! We just get some somber reactions shots out of her and a montage of reasons why she loved Ted! Yet another example of this movie’s shortcomings is how unconvincingly it portrayed Kendall’s affection for Bundy. Instead of actual character development, we get scenes of Bundy claiming to be innocent set to guitar solos and the hits of the 70s. Ugh.
There is really no reason to watch Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Well, unless you’re a fan of odd jumpcuts, shaky camera angles, and jarring shifts in tone. The story is better absorbed through the accompanying documentary, and it’s more fun to watch the talented leads in better movies such as 17 Again (2009) and The Blind Side (2009). Totally down to Wayback either of those movies by the way. Oh my God, I just remembered! John Malkovich is in this movie and he’s a total scene-stealer! There you go. There’s one small reason to potentially see this movie. Honestly though, you’ll probably be better off if you just skip it.
Have you seen Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile? What did you think?
Let me know in the comments or on social media!