10th May2019

‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ Review (Netflix)

by Jak-Luke Sharp

Stars: Lily Collins, Zac Efron, Angela Sarafyan, James Hetfield, Grace Victoria Cox, Kaya Scodelario, Haley Joel Osment, Terry Kinney, Ryan Wesley Gilreath, Richard K. Jones, Alan B. Jones, Jeffrey Donovan, John Malkovich | Written by Michael Werwie | Directed by Joe Berlinger

efron-bundy-poster

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is directed by Joe Berlinger and is his second Ted Bundy narrative to drop on Netflix after his show Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes premiered a few months ago. Berlinger’s biopic of the man himself stars none other than Zac Efron as serial mass murderer Ted Bundy and follows his simplistic home life with girlfriend Liz Kendall intertwined with his capture, and eventual trial on the grounds of his monstrously vicious crimes. Efron puts in a darkly inhabited turn with stellar craftsmanship as Bundy, however, the film itself is brutally underwhelming with significantly hollow depth and is questionably one-sided in how it portrays Bundy and his crimes, with a narrative that is also borderline ludicrous and incredibly obtuse in a woefully exercised non-cyclical structure.

Let’s start off with the good. The performance of Efron as Bundy is no doubt the highlight of the picture. He manifests such a chilling atmosphere around this character, with a sense of likeability, but, with a glimpsing glimmering shade of evil fragility that is manifested superbly via the charismatic and likeability of Efron himself. It comes at a time that’s perfect in the actors career path, after trying the box office game with disastrous results in the commercial box office flop Baywatch, yet thankfully at this time, vetoed the star plan and has concerned himself with relatively small bloated cameo pieces, in the likes of the scene-stealing vaping Creed fan in Harmony Korine’s excellent hangout acid trip The Beach Bum. Just one example of the actors bizarrely heroic performances. Efron, simply put, nails the underneath tactile and calculated demeanour, with ease.

Now, let’s talk about the bad. You sadly never get to know the personality of Ted Bundy, his reasoning or even this ultra-violent nature; due to the structure of the film never solely concentrating for more than second of his upbringing household, his background for that matter, or even his crimes. Thankfully Efron adds weight with every opportunity he’s given and before long you’re left floundering in this spellbinding hook that Bundy left his victims in, but what remains is this almost desperate need for more. The edit by Josh Schaeffer is a prime example of such. It’s constructed in a fashion in which you’re simply dropped into the narrative with so little build up or information – supposedly expected to work it out for yourself, of course, executed in a mildly condescending fashion.

You’re engrossed and subjected to this sense of honesty and trust in Bundy, of which should come down on the audience like a ton of bricks, specifically in the climax of the film, but we all know Bundy isn’t an innocent man, quite the contrary in fact. This false sense of security which the film for some strange reason frames Bundy in, presumably for narratives logic, in such redundant fashion is just time wasted. It paves itself for an impact that’s never going to occur, and furthermore, it never examines the actual crimes of Bundy. Not even in terms of the victim’s pain and contempt of the man himself. You’re given nothing and in return, you’ll find yourself less willing to give the film anything back. Therefore, what’s left is a flat empty dramatic narrative with a skewed tale and hollow dramatic edge that unfortunately is miles, upon miles away from the intended landing.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is available on Netflix now.

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