So I’m one of those people who loves a good serial killer documentary, and jumps on it as soon as it’s released. Ted Bundy has always been fascinating to me, because of the way he carried himself, the way he spoke, and the way he manipulated. I learned a lot watching his story. Apart from personal experience, Bundy was the first serial killer and probably the only serial killer who taught me how to pick a compulsive liar and manipulator out of the crowd. I was glad this movie was finally made for him, and was intrigued to see how he would be depicted, as he played victim every step of the way, up until his frying.
Perfectly titled after the statement made by Judge Edward D. Cowart (played here by John Malkovich) who sent him to the chair, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile tells the story of after the murders and during the trials that deemed the infamous and charming serial killer, Ted Bundy (as portrayed by Zac Efron) guilty, and his road toward death row. We only see the trial part of the crazy show and the media influence, as well as the point of view of his only known long term relationship with Liz (this role played by Lily Collins). I cannot deny, I was looking forward to seeing his story from the very beginning. But this film only picks apart, if you could even say that, the bits and pieces of his time in front of the judges.
I felt a little let down. I felt like it wasn’t enthralling enough, or kept me itching for the next bit, or got me excited. Slow and steady wins this race, and it barely wins by a nails length.
I can proudly say, Zac Efron has done a simply ingenious version of a charismatic man, and when you think of who, what and how Ted Bundy was, Efron was a good choice. My favourite piece of acting in this film, is the way he portrays Bundy as he is read his indictment by Leon County Sherriff Ken Katsaris (Kevin McClatchy). Having seen the original footage, the stance, the hand movements, the speech, is almost identical by Efron.
If you don’t know much about the trials, the murders, and the overall adventures or Theodore Bundy, then this film might leave you a little confused. It doesn’t really detail what he did and how he did it, and I think that’s what this film is missing; a bit more back story. I wish for a movie with all the gruesome footage and details we can get that got him to the chair. Even his escapes from prison were vague, choppy and just brushed over. There’s plenty of layers, but not enough filling.
The titles itself however, does justify the angle taken by the creators of this movie. The words uttered by Judge Cowart, and perfectly executed without surprise by Malkovich, are what excuse the film for having such an obscure title.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is worth the watch, but not worth rushing to. I’d recommend The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix first, and more research before getting into this film. But, hopefully someone will have the guts to finally make a proper biopic about Ted Bundy soon.