Hyped to the max (certainly if you subscribe to Sky Movies here in the UK), Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile finally arrives on the big (and small) screen, promising a fresh look at the story of America’s notorious serial killer Ted Bundy.

But is it worth the hype? Well, yes – to an extent, but mostly no.

Directed by Joe Berlinger (who also put together the recent Netflix series on Bundy), the film purports to show a ‘new side’ of the tale, that of the killer’s relationship with on/off girlfriend Liz Kendall.

We get to see Ted as a sort-of family man, playing with the kids, being cuddly and romantic, all of the while flatly denying the crimes he is accused of, even during his high-profile trial (which takes up most of the second half of the running time).

Now this is all well and good, but my major problem with the film is that it really doesn’t go far enough, shying away from the disturbing elements of Bundy’s tale and providing something akin to a mash-up of kitchen sink and courtroom drama.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want a bloodbath up on screen, but the film takes this somewhat bizarre approach that, if you had no knowledge of Bundy’s hideous crimes prior to viewing, you may actually sit there for the bulk of the film genuinely thinking he had been ‘set up’.

By doing so, and by seemingly going so far out on a limb to prove they are not ‘glamorising’ Bundy or his crimes in any way, the filmmakers have actually gone too far the other way, sanitising Ted’s tale and doing a real disservice to the real victims of this carnage in the first place.

There are certainly positives here – for starters Zac Efron and Lily Collins are excellent in the two lead roles (which garners the film the score I’ve given it). From Efron’s point of view there is a definite whiff of ‘taking this role on to make a point’, but he inhabits the role of Bundy very well, staggeringly so at times. Collins on the other had has admittedly less to do, but provides equally sterling work, although there is a tendency to rely on the old ‘hitting the bottle to signal growing anxiety’ cliché.

Other smaller roles prove something of a distraction, with Jim Parsons’ turn as a lawyer battling against Bundy almost as big a ‘look, I can do stuff other than comedy’ shift as Efron.

Having taken a few days to mull over this, I’m still struggling to see exactly what Berlinger was hoping for here. If it is to introduce the uninitiated to Bundy’s tale then is well wide of the mark, wheeling out a narrative that at times borders on the dangerously reckless (Bundy’s ‘true’ self is only hinted at briefly at the climax).

If, on the other hand, the idea was to come up with something different, well the fact that the film offers absolutely zero back story, next to no theories regarding the ‘why’ behind what Bundy did and merely trots out touchpoints that anyone who has sat through the Netflix series (or documentaries from the likes of good old Fred Dineage) will already know, leaves Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as something close to pointless.

Movie Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
2.5Overall Score
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About The Author

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Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written three books - on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014), the history of the character Norman Bates (2015) and the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker (2017). He is currently working with director Richard Loncraine to explore all avenues in a bid to orchestrate the re-release of 1978 Mia Farrow chiller Full Circle