Extremely Wicked and Shockingly Vile

“… in that they were extremely wicked, shockingly evil, vile, and with utter indifference to human life…”

-Extremely Wicked and Shockingly Vile

Release: July 24th, 2019. Dir: Joe Berlinger

Summary: A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy, from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, who refused to believe the truth about him for years.

Original Rating: 5/10

Short Explanation: For a movie about a massive serial killer, the movie watched more like a soapy legal drama that did little to draw the line between guilty and not guilty, leaving more people rooting for Ted Bundy than should be morally possible especially when the truth about him is now widely known, which begs the question: was there a better way to film this? (Answer: Absolutely)

Long Explanation: I haven’t been a fan of Zac Efron or Lily Collins for years. Yet, something about this movie drew me to spending my Saturday night watching it. I remember when this film originally came out, many people were going wild on Twitter to remind people that Ted Bundy murdered hundreds of girls and this led to some reluctance to watch it. Though, I figured it was finally time.

I tend not to typecast when I see actors who got their start on Disney or any channels that are meant for kids because I know that not every actor can get a blockbuster start. Seeing Zac Efron in this didn’t deter me because of High School Musical, but rather because I originally thought he didn’t have the dramatic capabilities to pull off a role as sinister as this one. I was happily proven wrong. The main focus of Efron’s portrayal of Bundy was how charming he appeared to be during the scope of the trial which gathered a lot of media support despite the compelling evidence. I think Efron was charming enough to make the viewer root for him, but I think that the screenplay also wanted the viewer to question whether he was actually guilty before providing an actual answer at the end. Watching it as someone who knows the history of the Bundy murders extensively, it was almost chilling to see how easy it was for the media and young women, especially to believe him. While I don’t think it was the screenplay that did this, I think that Efron worked really well with what he had and much of the sinister quality that you would expect from a serial killer was found in the eyes. He was the one good thing about this movie and where much of my rating comes from

Lily Collins, on the other hand, ruined an adaptation of one of my favorite novels, so I do have to say that I am not a fan. Here, I hoped she would prove me wrong, but I just didn’t find her role believable. Despite saying that this was a portrayal of the trials through her eyes, I felt that the narrator was almost omniscient. There was too much back and forth for the movie to be a true depiction of her feelings. That being said, I don’t see how there would be much of a movie if it was truly from her perspective, but I think it shouldn’t be advertised as such. I felt like much of her acting was juvenile and she didn’t really tap into the emotional depth needed for a character like this. Her indignancy on his part felt false and I didn’t think that I ever really believed that she loved him in the hard moments. For her, she is not really capable of the dramatic acting needed for a role like this. I think she would’ve made a better Carole Boone and Kaya Scodelario would’ve made a better Liz (mostly because I’ve seen her handle the depth of being a dramatic character a bit better than Collins). I did like how Scodelario took a role a bit opposite than her normal dreary roles. She handled herself well.

I did like the opening sequence because of the editing and I think the storyline did a strong job of keeping to historical records. I also did like the costume department’s authenticity. I think things were embellished a little too much for my liking and the music choices created the opposite feel than I feel like a movie of this caliber should. While I understand that Ted Bundy gathered much of his support by being charming, I think this movie mistook itself for what it really was: a portrayal of a psychopath. This movie definitely added to the coverage that put the idea of a nice guy being innocent even when the evidence was too great to ignore. It kind of reminds me of You in the sense that people are going to root for a monster because he’s half-portrayed as a good guy. You is successful because of the writing and Penn Badgley’s insistence that he is a bad guy, this movie doesn’t add to the warning of being wary of men, instead it continues to garner support for a man that has been proven guilty and whose innocence should not be debated.

Afterthought Rating: 4/10

Overall Conclusion: I wouldn’t say that this movie isn’t worth the watch, because I think everyone should make their own opinion, I would say be careful of misleading writing and focus on the facts as presented. I would also say to take this story as it originally happened and not how the movie presents that it should’ve happened. Know the facts before you watch. Beware of bad acting and poor casting but enjoy Zac Efron, I think he can go far.

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