REVIEW: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

There’s an array of reasons I hate Zac Efron. And they all happened in 2006, when every single girl I spoke to said “Sorry, I’m not interested – I’m waiting for Zac Efron”.

The man is so damn beautiful that people are actually saying they want to be with his latest character. And may I take the time to remind you that Zac Efron is currently portraying… Serial killer and rapist, Ted Bundy.

Sky Cinema’s biopic chronicles the incarceration of Ted Bundy, however this film takes an interesting approach as it comes from the perspective of Ted’s long-running girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (played brilliantly by Lily Collins). Even more interestingly is that it was directed by Joe Berlinger; the man who recently created the Netflix docuseries, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Some take up stamp-collecting, others enjoy playing basketball. Meanwhile Joe is just plain ol’ obsessed with Ted Bundy. That’s fine, right? Totally fine.

And while this lends me to stay weary of Joe should I ever walk past him in a dark alleyway, this does mean that he’s very knowledgable about the subject matter. There are moments from the script that were plucked straight from the real-life courtroom drama, and Ted’s frequent escapes from prison seem well-researched. Unfortunately, that knowledge isn’t quite enough to make it that much of a thrilling watch. One issue that irked me was that it almost seemed as if Joe was rooting for Ted, and was trying to convince the audience that Bundy was innocent – or at least until the final act. Well, good luck with convincing me there, bud…

It’s already one thing to cast the exceptionally charming, likeable and – did I mention stunning as fuck? – Zac Efron as the titular role, but he appears as more of a rockstar than a serial killer-rapist. It was always going to be a hard task to portray a villainous monster who so often wooed the public as, well, a villainous monster to the public, but when Ted is on the run from the law to an upbeat Fleetwood Mac anthem, while chucking quips to police officers, you almost feel like this could be an entirely new movie – you go into this movie wanting to hate Ted Bundy, and I feel like you should leave it hating him too. Y’know, unless you’re directed Joe Berlinger, who clearly loves him.

I am not, however, disregarding Zac Efron’s performance. That man has had his fair share of dreadful performances – anyone who’s seen him try to peel a felt wasp which has been glued to his knob in Dirty Grandpa will agree with me. But this may be one of Zac’s finest performances – and I’ve seen his gut-wrenching display when he was on that golf course in High School Musical 2, so that’s saying something. Zac really gives it his all to really deliver a compelling portrayal of such a nasty man, and he quite often does it with some well-timed subtlety. The same can be said for Lily Collins, who plays Ted’s love interest, Elizabeth Kloepfer. I felt genuinely sorry for her as she ranged from depression to alcoholism to guilt to hatred, throughout the two-hour runtime. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough of her.

I was presented with this film under the impression that it was from Elizabeth’s perspective. And it was. The more she was in love with Ted, the kinder he appeared on screen. But that was the problem – it was about how Ted appeared, and not Elizabeth. Her scenes were few and far between, which made Extremely Wicked almost a standard paint-by-numbers retelling of a historic event.

I did quite enjoy this movie, because I wasn’t to learned up on Ted Bundy’s past. I knew he murdered people, and… Well, that’s all you really need to know about someone. I know if I saw that in someone’s Tinder bio, I’d swipe left. But for anyone who remembers the events during the 1980s might (and probably will) find it to drag. I went for the harrowing tale of Ted Bundy; I stayed for Zac Efron’s performance.

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