Netflix Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile


Photo courtesy of Vox.

Alyssa Robinson, Copy Editor

If you have any form of social media, surely you’ve seen the memes about girls going crazy over Zac Efron, even if he’s portraying a serial killer. In the Netflix original Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Zac Efron takes on the role of Ted Bundy, a 1970s serial killer, rapist, kidnapper and burglar. The crime thriller film focuses on Bundy’s relationship with his serious girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall, and how she struggles to come to terms with her boyfriend’s crimes. Elizabeth, known as “Liz”, blames herself for Bundy’s arrests and isn’t sure if he is actually guilty or not.

I think what intrigued me and quite frankly, surprised me the most was that Zac Efron is an incredible actor. Most people, including myself, know Efron from movies such as “High School Musical” or “Hairspray” where little to no seriousness is required from the characters. Even in their serious moments, Efron’s characters never appeared to have layers nor substance. In this film, Efron portrays Bundy in a eerily perfect way. He shows Ted Bundy’s collectiveness and charm whilst having his entire life ripped from his bloody hands. The contrast is excessively transparent when the latter is shown. The few times that Bundy did panic, Efron seamlessly conveyed the clear insanity and ruthlessness. I felt like I could see the malicious wheels turning in his head, or rather his temper rising. I think the charm he exudes gets all the more creepy when the viewers are certain that he committed those crimes. I mean, obviously you know he’s guilty because you’re watching a movie about a notorious serial killer, but when it is explicitly shown to the audience, the viewers’ perspective changes. Zac Efron does a fantastic job at showing the controlled, committed layers of a serial killer. How he acts with Liz and her daughter versus his manipulative tongue in the courtroom. I like that in Efron’s acting, I never questioned his love for Liz and her daughter. It was evident that his care and devotion to their family was genuine in addition to the fact that the real Bundy never laid a hand on them. Though the very gentle man he was around his somewhat family pales in comparison to the horrors he left other families to live with.

Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with the directing of the movie. The director, Joe Berlinger, seemed to stray from his original concept for the movie. The description of the thriller stated that it would be centered around Liz and Bundy’s relationship and how she dealt with his crimes. Rather than telling the story from Liz’s perspective, Berlinger simply told the story as an outsider. It wasn’t too disappointing because the whole story is super interesting and I didn’t previously know much about it, but it wasn’t what the description said it was going to be. There were sporadic shots of Liz in a dark place, but never her actual thoughts until the ending. I did like how the movie started with the ending, although that’s pretty much a directing cliche at this point. Other than really missing the mark for the overall idea of the film, the directing and camerawork were beautifully done. Overall, the movie captured my attention throughout the entire duration and kept me interested in discovering more. I really enjoyed watching Zac Efron’s dedication to playing Ted Bundy and the unfolding of his extremely well developed character.