In the same way that Ted Bundy couldn’t get away with murder, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile fails to get away with an endearing story and engaging plot about one of the most notorious serial killers of all time. This repression of Bundy comes from Joe Berlinger, who previously directed the documentary series on the killer, focuses on Bundy’s relationship with his girlfriend, Liz Kendall (Lily Collins) and plays on the angle that Bundy’s looks and charm were his most formidable weapons.
The film depicts Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) on the surface level as an eager-beaver law student, and the complicated relationship he shares with his girlfriend. The film escalates as Bundy is arrested for attempted kidnapping before more serious charges spirals into a drawn-out murder trial, made more sensational by being televised, and by Bundy’s own distorted vanity. Unfortunately, a film that could’ve explored the inner-workings of a notorious killer and his warped image of himself, is bogged down by boring scenes of Kendall asking Bundy “Did you do this?”, with Bundy replying “Of course not, you know me!” again, and again, and again. Not only that but we’re also treated to a shot-for-shot remake of Bundy’s televised trail, which if you watched the documentary series, you’ve already seen. Efron plays a charming and frighteningly likeable Bundy, the way you’d expect him to be, but a good performance can’t save the actor from falling to the dialogue of a less than stellar script. Collins appears stuck in a performance where it seems that the film is unsure whether to treat the character as inept and unaware, or just emotionally stuck in a love affair with a man playing to her feelings.
The lameness of the film comes when the film reveals a list of Bundy’s 30 known victims as somewhat of a solemn afterthought. This feels sheepish and transparent as the film has failed to do justice to the sheer volume of horror committed by one man. As the film wraps up we’re left feeling unsatisfied, as this biopic portrays our leads as a pathological liar and his girlfriend in-denial.