Ted Bundy was guilty of many things in his short life, but this weekend he was responsible for breaking the internet after his biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile premiered on Netflix and Sky Cinema this weekend.
Titled after the very words used by the Judge at his trial to describe his heinous crimes, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile has been a long-awaited cinematic opus, capitalising on societies obsession with the darkness that flows through its very veins, and the mega-popularity of TV shows about serial killers that we’re all guilty of binge-watching late at night
The movie, which is directed by Joe Berlinger – the mind behind Netflix hit docu-series Conversation With a Serial Killer – stars your sister’s favorite heartthrob Zac Effron as the charismatic, self-aggrandising US Serial Killer Ted Bundy, a charming man at face value who was convicted of the brutal murders of at least 30 women in the 1970s.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a fast-paced sprint through the killers’ life which cleverly avoids showing any of the shocking acts he committed until the very final moments when Bundy’s back is truly against the wall. Instead, we bear witness to the rock and roll persona he crafted in front of the courtroom cameras during his lengthy trial in Florida. So convincing is Bundy in fact that if we didn’t already know the outcome he’d have even convinced us of his innocence.
Casting Zac Efron was a bold move, although having him produce probably helped with that decision. Efron is more akin to playing the good-looking asshole next door rather than the guy who stoves in the heads of innocent young women. To his credit though, Efron embodies Bundy – or at least the public persona he fed to the media – and captivates for every second he is on screen. He’s the all-American hunk hiding a dark secret, much like when Tony Curtis cast off the shackles of typecasting in 1968’s The Boston Strangler.
Unfortunately, where Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile comes unstuck is in the moments Efron isn’t mugging to the camera. The supporting cast, although fine, are just not as interesting to watch as the big bad wolf we all paid to see. Don’t get us wrong, they’re not boring, they’re just such a stark contrast to the moments with Ted that they bring us crashing back down to Earth. They are the anchors that remind us this is not fiction. This is a true tale of an evil man who raped and murdered women in the most horrible ways we could ever dare to imagine, and by falling for the facade he created we are as gullible and complicit in his deeds as the army of supporters that filled the courtrooms just to see him.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is currently showing on Netflix in the US, and Sky Cinema in the UK. It is also available in selected cinemas.
You can watch the official trailer below:
The speed and urgency with which Netflix ran out and picked up the rights to Joe Berlinger’s Bundy-bio made the world stand up and notice that this might be something special. It seems wrong to describe Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as an enjoyable movie, but there’s no denying it’s must-see TV, right up to the moment where Bundy pulls the rug out from all of us in its dark and disturbing climax. Who would have thought that the word Hacksaw could be quite so frightening?
Beard Score: 7.5/10