Last week, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile arrived in select cinemas. The movie also landed on SKY in the UK (Netflix in the US).
For those who are not familiar with this film, Extremely Wicked… is a biographical crime thriller, detailing the arrest and trial of serial killer, Ted Bundy. Extremely Wicked… stars Zac Efron as Bundy, with Lily Collins as Bundy’s former girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall.
The movie is based on Kendall’s memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy. A book about Kendall’s life living with Bundy.
Going into this film I knew next to nothing about Bundy – his reputation proceeded him, but I was unaware of the full details of his crimes. After watching Extremely Wicked… I feel as if I have a greater understanding of the sort of person Bundy was, even if I still don’t know the full extent of the atrocities he committed.
Is this the make or break point of this movie?
No. For me, Extremely Wicked… is a captivating story and one that works so well because it opts not to focus too much on Bundy’s crimes. Instead, this movie is about Bundy – who he was, how he operated, and why he got away with murder for so very long.
This is a fascinating movie, which peels back the layers of a serial killer.
This is partly because of the content the story focuses on – the idea of what it is like living with a killer – but also because of an outstanding performance from Efron.
The actor is superb in this movie. His performance is up there with the best and arguably a career highlight.
A lesser actor would play a serial killer as strange, unnerving, awkward sort – utilising character traits one might expect from a murderer; but not Efron. He plays Bundy as a silver-tongued charmer, who worms his way into peoples’ lives with ease.
And this is what makes this movie so terrifying. The horror isn’t in the kills, it’s in the mundane; the hidden truths that lurk within people.
Up until the very end of the movie, it is never quite clear if Bundy is a murderer or not. OK, so the majority of audiences viewing this movie will know he was a killer, but the film keeps its cards close to its chest, to show the real evil of Bundy.
It’s only during the final moments, through a chilling confession to Kendall, that the truth comes out. It’s here that the lie is exposed and the suburban horror is made clear.
I recently viewed another real-life crime story, My Friend Dahmer (2017) – a biopic about serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer. I found it mostly tedious.
For me, My Friend Dahmer failed as a movie, because it didn’t focus on the more interesting aspect of Dahmer’s story – the crimes he committed. In the case of Extremely Wicked… I was glad it didn’t focus on the crimes.
Both movies walk a similar path but the end result are different journeys. Extremely Wicked understands where the meat of its story lies and excels in bringing this to the table.
I’m aware that the reviews for Extremely Wicked… have been mixed, but for me this is a captivating movie. It highlights how Bundy managed to get away with his crimes for so long and that leaves a worrying thought or two as the credits roll.
For those interested in true crime stories or biopics, Extremely Wicked… is highly recommended. Efron’s performance alone is worth giving this movie two hours of your time, but there is much to get out of this film if this is a story you want to visit.
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