Whether or not you like and enjoy EXTREMELY WICKED, SHOCKINGLY EVIL, AND VILE depends on what kind of movie you are expecting. If you are expecting for Zac Efron to go around and brutally kill women for two hours just to see what made the serial killer tick, you are going to be very, very disappointed. Or if you are smarter, like me, and go into it expecting a deep character study, sort of a personality mystery/thriller, while seeing Zac Efron takes his acting to the next level, then you are in for a treat. I happened to really like this film, and that’s because going into it I knew it didn’t go around just showing how he murdered women and got away with it. I knew that it was going to have kind of a “did he or didn’t he?” mystery vibe (even though we know how it all ends). Combine that narrative with an analysis of how this one deranged psychopath got away with everything because of the way he could talk and convince people (maybe even himself) that he was innocent. As the latter type of movie, it is one helluva character study.
The movie actually only shows one woman abduction and no kills at all. It’s quite bold and brilliant. It is more of a courtroom drama once Bundy actually gets caught near the beginning of the film because of a normal traffic stop, and then it shows how he tries to study up as a lawyer and try to talk his way out of jail time and even the death penalty. He even tries to manipulate his current girlfriend and convince her there is no way that he did those things. Oh, and he escapes from prison several times too. If anyone who didn’t know who the hell Ted Bundy was or didn’t have a clue that this was a real story, the movie could’ve successfully make that audience member confused whether or not he actually he did those unspeakable acts. But since the movie knows none of us are that stupid, it tries to make you think about Bundy’s personality, actions, and way with words/women so that it earns the narrative it is trying to tell: that monsters come in many manipulative forms. And because of Zac Efron’s incredible performance, it earns that slight doubt that could be formed in the back of your mind.
If there is only one thing to watch this movie for, it is because of Zac Efron. It is easily his best performance and I would probably stand up and cheer if I hear that he is nominated for an Oscar next year. He is just that damn good, and it isn’t just an impersonation. He embodies all of Ted’s ticks, mannerisms, and way with words so well that Efron basically became what I know of Bundy right before my very eyes. It is so frightening but the acting is so good you can’t take your eyes away from the screen. Lilly Collins is good too as the current girlfriend that can’t decide whether she truly believes Bundy is innocent or not, but Kaya Scodelario steals the female performance from under her as a former protege of Bundy’s that increasingly becomes obsessed with him and his innocence for all the wrong reasons. And the end reveal of Bundy just slightly showing Collins character who he really is, is a pretty powerful scene in itself. The movie alone is also worth watching between Zac Efron’s and John Malkovich’s banter between one another in the courtroom.
Would a movie that actually featured Ted Bundy committing all those horrible acts, maybe add thirty minutes onto the film to incorporate it, be that great and/or better than this film? I honestly don’t think so. I think if we got that movie people would’ve complained that it glorifies violence against women and it would’ve put itself in a public relations nightmare just to promote the film to get people to see it. The filmmakers made the right approach. How did those close and distant to Ted Bundy see him? How did he get away with all that horror for so long? Not how did he kill this girl and watch Zac Efron try to recreate murder events. Plus, if you want to dig deeper into the psychology of Ted Bundy, the director of this film also did that ‘Ted Bundy Tapes’ documentary series that is also on Netflix anyway. They make quite a marathon/double feature. Like I said, your appreciation of this films depends on what you’re expecting out of this. Expect a really good character study, and you’ll be out of the woods with a grin on your face and thoughts about it afterwards. Expect a re enactment of the murders, you will not have a killer time.