Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile Movie Review
Despite buzz about a transformative performance by Zac Efron and the understandably sensational story of Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a disturbingly bland crime drama that repeatedly fails to capture the serial killer’s violence—nor, arguably more important considering the source material, explore the psychological aspects that kept Liz Kendall from accepting the truth about her boyfriend.
The film is based on Kendall’s memoir, but the actress who plays her—Lily Collins—is nearly a non-factor, emoting zero presence throughout the movie’s proceedings. Efron, meanwhile, is more memorable, but only by default—after all, he plays one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. But Efron’s performance is skin deep, not exactly the brilliant two-faced turn you’d expect from someone played a markedly two-faced killer.
Given the non-momentous delivery across the board, the blame for Extremely Wicked’s complete failure in living up to its title must fall not on the actors but on director Joe Berlinger, who should have stuck with documentaries. Perhaps in future dramatic efforts Berlinger will learn how to push his actors to their breaking point when necessary, but such a skill escapes him here.
Rather than watch Extremely Wicked, click over to another 2019 Netflix offering that Berlinger helmed: the four-part docuseries Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, which does a significantly better job of capturing the complicated and chilling persona of the twisted individual.
It’s better, more interesting, and of course more accurate, and won’t leave you suffering from boredom 15 minutes in.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.