- Zac Efron, Lilly James, Kaya Scodelario
- Michael Werwie
- Joe Berlinger
- Running Time
- 110 minutes
- Release Date
- May 3rd, 2019 (Netflix)
Zac Efron has made a career based on being the good-looking, marketable leading man behind mostly comedies and romance films but has barely made a dent in more serious fare. Perhaps this was what led him to be cast in the unnecessarily lengthy-titled, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, a film about the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy (Efron) based on a book written by his longtime girlfriend Liz Kendall (James). What will become abundantly clear while watching the film is that looks only go so far. While the film’s failures aren’t all necessarily Efron’s fault as he was never believable in the role of Bundy, he was also handcuffed by mediocre material and direction which made potentially interesting material incredibly dull to watch.
Suffice it to say that Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was pretty much doomed from the start. Told from the perspective of Kendall, this highly-sanitized telling of a story that many people may already know (and for which those who don’t won’t learn anything new) saw Kendall trying to start a life with her daughter and a seemingly perfect guy for which we already know not to be the case but the film would never go into any detail which got increasingly frustrating. Suspicious incidents would keep happening as the story strongly implied that Bundy was somehow responsible. That suspicion formed a cloud over their relationship that never left. Despite this and the growing amount of evidence against him, Kendall remained steadfast in her belief that Bundy was a great guy. The same would be the case for Bundy who remained steadfast in his belief that he was innocent.
Though Kendall would only be defined by her relationship with Bundy, the evolution of their relationship over the course of the film would be the most compelling thing about it despite their lack of chemistry developed over a short time together on screen. As she kept holding on to her fantasy, it was gripping to see how it was destroying her on the inside and the outside (the makeup work was a nice touch).
Meanwhile, the limited perspective made Bundy a one-note character as well, only defined by his supposed sociopathic nature (with the film asking us to fill the gaps with what we already know about him). He would find himself in countless court rooms and prison cells but he would never be in any danger thanks to his wit and silver tongue, claiming that everyone was out to get him. Unfortunately, the film never went particularly deep with either character which would only make them dull to watch, especially since we more or less know how the story ends.
Despite the subpar material, the acting was still the best part of the film. The actors were clearly trying but it was just hard to care about any of it or them. Efron may look the part, however, he was arguably miscast as Bundy as he was never believable as him. Though he would get by on his charm and charisma, the mediocre material did not do him any favors as his attempts at being serious mostly bordered on cringeworthy at best. James did not have to do all that much as Kendall yet she still showed more range as Bundy’s conflicted girlfriend. Scodelario was also okay as another woman in Bundy’s life named Carole Anne Boone.
At the end of the day, Efron and his looks will surely be a draw, however, a straightforward film about Bundy would have been a much better choice than Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
*still courtesy of Netflix*