Review by Rick Trewin
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is the new film directed by Joe Berlinger, and starring Zac Efron, that follows the capture and subsequent trial of mass murderer Ted Bundy.
The synopsis from IMDB is as follows; “A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy.”
This is not your standard serial killer style movie. Rather than concentrate on the gory details, the filmmaker chooses to concentrate on relationships, particularly that of Ted and Liz Kendall, who he had a hold on even after she had her doubts about him, and the multiple court cases and trials that were Ted Bundys eventual undoing.
Zac Efrons portrayal of Bundy as a handsome and charismatic, even charming, but definitely clever man is used to great effect. That coupled with a fantastic supporting cast including Haley Joel Osmond, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Lily Collins and Angela Sarafyin make for compelling viewing.
This is also the acting debut of Metallica frontman James Hetfield (which makes this review very relevant to Noise Pollution). His role as officer Bob Hayward is small, but fairly pivotal in the demise of Bundy. He handles the role well, and I’d be keen to see him in larger roles.
Based on the book “The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy” by Elizabeth Kendall and adapted for the screen by Michael Werwie, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a slow burning courtroom drama. It doesn’t glorify Ted Bundy at all, even if the viewer might become a little sympathetic towards him at times.
Zac Efron is excellent here, and far removed from the comedic roles we are used to. I would be very interested in seeing him in more roles like this in the future, rather than more Baywatch adaptations.
Joe Berlinger is known for exceptional documentary filmmaking, and he’s used techniques here that have more in common with that style over Hollywood blockbusters. I’m sure he can take his skills and transition to the big screen nicely.
Overall, it’s a good watch. If you chose to watch it just for Hetfields film debut, you will be disappointed, because he’s barely there. If you’re looking for gore, there’s none to be found. But if your looking for compelling, character driven viewing, you just might enjoy this movie.