>> There’s no denying the popularity of the true crime genre—from documentary miniseries to narrative features, the genre’s strong cult following is constantly eager for the next latest and greatest true crime mystery. There’s only so much out there once the well of Forensic Files runs dry. However, Netflix has proven to be the place for the true crime fix. The latest release to its collection is the narrative feature Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile—which follows the story of Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) and his relationship with former girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins). Directed by Joe Berlinger, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a slow film with many faults, a good attempt but hard miss.
The film covers twenty years of Bundy’s life, from the moment he met Elizabeth Kloepfer to his death sentence. The 110-minute run time is used to focus on the relationship between Bundy and Kloepfer (making the film a slow burn drama rather than the typical crime thriller). After refusing to acknowledge Bundy’s potential life as a serial killer, Kloepfer is forced to passively watch Bundy’s rise to becoming one of the most prolific serial killers ever known.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile lacks everything the title states—a bland cocktail that’s enjoyable only for the last 20 minutes, after it’s subdued you into submission. Efron makes a notable attempt at channeling Bundy—while Efron can heavily lay on the charm, he fails at channeling the dark energy and hidden psychotic nature of Bundy. The real-life clips of Bundy—which play alongside the credits—could even convince a monkey that there was something missing in Efron’s performance.
The film has a plethora of tonal and narrative structure issues, it has trouble finding its footing throughout the entire first act. Yet when everything settles in, it’s quite underwhelming. There’s nothing very notable about its editing, cinematography, or score—perhaps the effect of a director playing it safe. If anything, the film’s production design is the real star here—the environments and styling depict past decades flawlessly and unobtrusively.
I applaud Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile for its attempt in bringing a different side of Bundy’s story to the mainstream. Yet the film itself does nothing to stand out in a sea of true crime content—it’s expected, safe, and littered with faults. 4.5/10 <<
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was released on Netflix on May 3rd.
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