Skip to content

Film Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) is a biographical true crime drama about the serial killer Ted Bundy. Directed by Joe Berlinger, who recently directed the Netflix series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, this film stars Zac Efron as Bundy. This film follows the story of Bundy, but having a focus on his girlfriend, Liz (Lily Collins), as he gets convicted of his crimes and going through his several court cases.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) – source: Sky Cinemas

First of all, I want to thank the team behind this film for not glamourising Ted Bundy. They do show him being a caring father figure to Liz’s daughter, and the fact that girls were clearly attracted to him once he started to receive fame. However, his character was unsettling right from the start. He was clever, cocky and it is no shock that all of his lawyers hated working for him. He was written with little sympathy and to showcase truly how clever he was and how little remorse he had for his victims, only for his freedom.

All this is also possible thanks to Zac Efron giving his best performance of his career so far. When he was cast, it was choice that I was not expecting but also one that fit well for the role. With Ted Bundy being known as a charmer, picking a handsome actor that girls love like Efron makes sense, and I am convinced that they have the same eyes. Efron’s performance is dark yet multi-layered, as his outspoken personality and smug appearance shines through in the scenes of the court case, and the final scene from Efron in this film is so well performed.

Lily Collins also gives a fantastic performance here as Elizabeth Kloepfer, Ted Bundy’s girlfriend. I think having her voice be the dominant one in the film not only separates this film from presenting the crimes and putting the victims in the front, but also separates the viewer from the horrors of the events. It gives us someone we want to see be okay and protect, and a unique perspective of a true crime film like this one. Her performance is heartbreaking to watch, and there is a bit of information they present with her character near the end that, if you do not know about it, will shock you.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) – source: Sky Cinemas
The final act of the film is by far the strongest, when we get to Bundy’s final court case. This is when the film settles in and focuses more on the crimes that Bundy committed in Florida, as well as how his ex-girlfriend is coping with having to watch the crimes on live TV. Having the live footage to compare it to, as they do in the end credits of the film, makes you realise how well those scenes were replicated. Efron was not over-exaggerating Bundy’s personality and behaviour, that is exactly how he acted in real life. 
There are definitely problems with this film though, most of which are to do with character development. Yes, I liked the ways that they used and developed Ted and Liz’s characters. However, every other character in this film felt one dimensional and only there to fit a purpose. From Liz’s boyfriend during the cases to Carole Ann Boone, the wife of Ted Bundy during the cases and the mother of his only biological father, they seemed to be flat and I found myself not caring about any of their stories or actions.
I also had a problem with the editing of the film, particularly how choppy the opening of the film was done. There were some aspects of the editing that I loved, particularly the effect of having the murder reports spoken about over the top of footage of Bundy’s car driving along the road. However, I do not understand what tone they were going for at the start of the film, and it just felt jumpy and incoherent. I also wish that there was more focus on Liz’s storyline, as she was the person that I found most interesting in this case.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) – source: Sky Cinemas

I have seen many people disregard and dislike this film, but I actually enjoyed watching this film. I am someone who enjoys hearing about true-crime stories, and I get engaged in the information that gets presented. I learnt a bit more about Ted Bundy from this film, and it presented itself in a manner that is both mature and respectful to the crime and the victims of the awful situation. I felt the crew did a good job overall on this film and if you are fascinated about cases like this, this is a good film to check out.


Have you seen Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile yet? Did you enjoy it like myself, or did you find it to be disappointing? Let me know in the comments below and let’s have a conversation.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: