“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” makes viewers sympathize with a serial killer


Played by Zac Efron and Lily Collins, Ted Bundy and Liz Kloepfer celebrates the second birthday of Kloepfer’s daughter after the scene of the couple committing to their relationship. Photo from Voltage Pictures, used with permission under fair use.

Homicide, relationships, manipulation – words that sum up the Ted Bundy film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile,”  starring actors Zac Efron and Lily Collins.

Netflix recently released the movie on their platform May 3, months later after also releasing the documentary of Ted Bundy, “Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes.”  Being 1 hour and 49 minutes long, the film brings back the 1970s cases of the murders and assaults of 30 women in Washington, Utah, and Colorado. All by one single man: Ted Bundy.

Played by Zac Efron, Bundy is revealed in the beginning of the movie at the Florida State Prison talking with long-term girlfriend Liz Kloepfer (played by Lily Collins). And here is when the issue of the movie begins.

The scenes go back and forth between Bundy and Kloepfer conversing in the prison visiting booth and the night the two first met at a college party to Bundy eying Kloepfer from across the room. As viewers are aware of Bundy’s history and ultimate crimes, suspension and anxiety awaits for Liz in fear she is his next victim as Bundy begins to approach her for a dance. However that is not the case.

Their relationship before the mayhem was romantic, sweet, caring. A handsome man that studies law suddenly appears in your life then helps to raise your child during college. Not only does this man support you, he constantly tells you the dream life after graduation of being in “a house with a dog and car.”

The film humanizes Ted Bundy.

It makes viewers wish for a guy like that to appear in their own life. Though throughout the film Bundy is shown to either attempting to claim his innocence in trial or plotting methods to make himself seem innocent in the different prisons, the movie makes people believe he is truly innocent.

Efron shifting from a happy Troy Bolton in “High School Musical” to acting as a bloodlust killer makes it harder to think Bundy can be such a harmful person. Because Efron is required to act the sweet side of Bundy for the relationship with Kloepfer, the nostalgic Bolton memories from Efron’s previous movies gives viewers even more of a push to believing there is a human in Bundy. Despite such memories of Efron’s previous characters, the actor still played the role he was given effectively.

Close up shots of Bundy’s eyes when hearing his verdict gives off the uncomfortableness of being stared at. While producing Bundy as an outgoing comedian with laughs and smiles is very similar to the personality of the real Ted Bundy.

Through scenes of Bundy going through hardships of trying to reach Kloepfer or the lawyers finally giving up on trying to defend his innocence, I almost believed this individual is going through a lot of struggles. Efron easily convinces the viewers of the extroverted side of Ted Bundy.

However, the focal point was Bundy’s constant manipulation of individuals for his own selfish motivations. He keeps track of the police officers in order to escape and commit more murders. He seduces another woman for the sake of making her publicize his innocence outside of the prison. He brutally sexually assaulted many of his victims and ended lives that should last much longer. Ted Bundy is a murderer.

It is only till the finale in which viewers have to accept the person Bundy truly is: a murderer who manipulates, damages and destroys the lives of others.

But even with the conclusion, viewers still grasp the persona of the caring, determined Ted Bundy because those two hours made a murderer be a struggling protagonist.

Director Joe Berlinger created a fine movie. I believe it was well produced with scenes that flowed well together. The film was suspenseful and intriguing, despite some inappropriate scenes of nudity.

My only problem with “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” was it portrayed a murderer as a good guy. If Bundy was clearly shown as the true antagonist he was in real life, I would consider the movie to be my top favorite.