‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’

Claire Lawrence, Opinions Editor

“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is a dramatic mystery movie based on the incredibly famous Ted Bundy murder case. This movie came out as a Netflix original in late January, so I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything about it until now. I never even saw a trailer for it until the other night, when I stumbled upon the thriller category. The film is directed by Joe Berlinger and stars the well-known Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and Lily Collins as his longtime girlfriend and single mom, Liz Kendall.

This movie takes on a totally different perspective toward the Ted Bundy case in a sense that it is told from the girlfriends perspective. The story follows their relationship as Ted’s name gets thrown around in a slew of different murder and kidnapping cases around the country. As the plot thickens, Liz grows suspicious, and after a menacing court trial, Ted begins his journey in and out of jail as his guilty case grows. While his life seems to be coming to an end, Liz is at home with a newfound boyfriend watching everything unravel through her TV screen.

One of the biggest reasons I thoroughly enjoyed this movie was that as an audience member I was able to see a different viewpoint of the case. The movie was obviously aimed toward Ted and how he is handling prison, but we are also getting an inside look at how Liz and other characters were handling the case outside of the hustle. Efron and Collins completely immersed themselves in their roles, taking on serious roles that are like no other. The chills I got when watching Ted’s character act charismatic and innocent when we all know he is, in fact, the ones that committed all those crimes are indescribable. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” makes the audience almost fall in love with the criminal, so when he gets taken away for the big court trial, we feel bad for him and start to actually sympathize with a serial killer. After the movie was over and I realized how the film manipulated my mind into thinking Ted was the protagonist was unsettling, yet riveting.

Chilling aspects continued to surprise me throughout this film, like the dull yet colorful filter used, as well as the switching of scenes to juxtapose emotions. In the beginning, before the plot even begins, the movie switches continuously between two scenes that were happening at separate times and with separate emotions. Liz talking to Ted through a prison phone with tears in her eyes and gritted teeth would get contrasted with bright images of them having heartfelt family moments with her daughter. This aspect also appears later when the judge is giving his final jurisdiction and the camera moves in on both him and Ted, while also switching to scenes where the audience gets a glimpse on just how creepy Ted would get with Liz, as well as other women in passing. The uncanny close-ups of both characters in intense scenes like this one almost made it uncomfortable to watch, but I couldn’t seem to ever look away. Of course, that’s probably what the director intended for.

Considering it’s been a while since I’ve had a good scare from a thriller film, I’m not shocked that film blew me away and left me curled in a ball against my couch. The fact that I also watched it with a friend helped because it allowed us to bounce ideas about the story off of each other (and curl up in balls on the couch TOGETHER while we freak out, but that’s beside the point). I’m not entirely sure why I’ve never heard anyone talk about this movie, both in person and on social media, because it is not only an amazing perspective on Ted Bundy’s trial but also an amazing performance by two talented actors. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” did not fail to deliver, nor did its cast. If you are interested in digging deeper and learning more about this spine-chilling case, I suggest turning off all the lights, making yourself a bowl of popcorn, and turning on Netflix to enjoy yet another outstanding original film.