Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019)

I've been really looking forward to seeing Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile because serial killers have always fascinated me and Efron's performance received a lot of praises from critics.

The film is based on Elizabeth Kendall’s memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy and follows Ted Bundy (Zac Efron) mainly during the 1970s. The first part focuses on his relationship with former girlfriend Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins), the second on his trails as he’s charged with multiple first-degree murders.

Since Joe Berlinger also directed Netflix’s Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a brilliant, captivating, and entertaining documentary, I was expecting Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile to be just as interesting and compelling. Unfortunately, partially because I’ve seen the documentary and therefore there wasn’t anything else to learn about Bundy, and partially because the film doesn’t have a focus — it’s not Liz’s story as it was supposed to be considering it’s based on her memoir, it’s not Ted’s, nor Carol’s, nor the victims’ —, the film didn’t work that well for me. Furthermore, it feels like a disjointed series of episodes, and the non-fictional footage added here and there only makes it more disjointed. 

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile does, however, a good job with the characters — while the script doesn’t do them any good, the cast provides strong performances. Ted Bundy was a highly intelligent, manipulative, calculating but also an incredibly charming man, and Zac Efron delivers all that. And he does more, he also delivers Bundy’s mannerisms to perfection. Lily Collins gives a compelling performance as Bundy’s girlfriend, Liz — she loved him and believed his innocence but at the same time she was afraid of him reason why she gave his name to the police, and Collins conveys this struggle of hers very well. John Malkovich also does a good job as the judge, although I would have appreciated if the character hadn’t had been reduced to a generic judge. Kaya Scodelario also does a nice job as Carole Anne Boone, Bundy’s obsessive friend who would later become his wife and the mother of his daughter. I wasn’t a fan of Jim Parsons’s performance as the prosecutor though as it reminded me a lot of his Sheldon Cooper, and Haley Joel Osment is kinda bland. 

Netflix, Sky Cinema
Other than the acting, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile needs to be praised for avoiding shock value and leaving out almost all the gruesome details of Bundy’s crimes — it was hard to sit through that while watching the documentary, so it would have been unbearable in a film that has a lighter approach to the subject as its purpose is to show how good Bundy was at deceiving people. 

In addition, the film also has striking cinematography with beautiful shots, and dynamic movements, greats sets, costumes and makeup — they did such a good job at ageing Efron and Collins. I also liked that Berlinger added those events that seem so unreal to be true — like Bundy’s courthouse escape through a second-floor window, and his proposal and marriage in the courtroom. 

Despite its many positive aspects, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile still was an underwhelming film as the story was unevenly compelling, the script quite weak and the wicked, evil and vile aspects of Bundy don’t really emerge.


  1. Parsons indeed always comes off as Sheldon but I like him, his charismatic and it's always fun to watch him, he usually does dramas outside of TBBT so it's like Sheldon unleashed in real world without laugh track

    1. I like when he does more serious stuff but it’s still kinda weird seeing Sheldon acting a bit different than usual