Efron Scarily Believable As Bundy In “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile”


By Julia Matuszek, Video Editor

Disclaimer: There are spoilers about the movie throughout this review. 

Notorious serial killer Ted Bundy has recently had a posthumous relapse in fame due to two of Netflix’s projects, earlier in the year with show Ted Bundy: Conversations With A Killer and now withthe film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The movie had controversy surrounding it before it was even been released, because the trailer showed Zac Efron as being charismatic while portraying Ted Bundy, and many accused Netflix of romanticizing Bundy. Due to this, the buzz for this film has been greater for Netflix than most of its recent projects.

The film focuses on Bundy’s relationship with his long-time girlfriend Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Kloepfer, portrayed by Lily Collins. The movie starts off with the same scene it ends with, Kloepfer visiting Bundy in prison and confronting him. But quickly after we are transported back in time and learn of how the relationship between the two of them came to be. Charming, law student Bundy met single-mother, working secretary Kloepfer at a college bar and quickly started dating. Bundy was everything Kloepfer had ever dreamed of, a great step-dad to her daughter and a loving, supportive partner. Due to the way Bundy acted with Kloepfer it blinded her from the truth of who Bundy truly was at first, but as time passes, Kloepfer becomes less and less trustworthy of Bundy.

As Bundy’s crimes start to be connected back to him, he starts building up a fanbase and a following due to his good looks and charismatic personality. He used this to his advantage any chance he could. As Bundy was being tried for a sorority house murder, his story takes an interesting turn and he starts to represent himself. While doing so he realizes he needs an outside source of help, so he quickly starts a relationship with former co-worker Carole Ann Boone, played by Kaya Scodelario although Bundy claimed to still love Kloepfer. Bundy and Boone were able to get married while Bundy was questioning Boone in court due to a Florida law that allows marriage if both partners state their declaration in front of a judge. That wasn’t even the craziest part, Boone soon after got pregnant although conjugal visits were not allowed, the couple was able to have private time together by coercing the security guards.

Everybody knows how the story ends after that. Bundy got put on death row (technically three different times for three different crimes), confessed to about 30 of his crimes (although it is speculated that there many more than that), and eventually died by electrocution from the electric chair. A detail most people didn’t know that was shown in the film was that Kloepfer was the one who called in Bundy’s name to the police station.

Although the movie followed pretty accurately what happened in real life, it did make some timeline changes andit didn’t get everything right. In the film, while Kloepfer is dealing with all that is happening with Bundy, her co-worker played by Haley Joel Osment comforts her and at the end, we see that they are married. In real life, Kloepfer leans on a friend she met in an AA meeting and it is not known if she is married. Another big difference is that in the film Bundy admits to his crimes to Kloepfer in person but in real life, he hinted at the crimes over their last phone call. The last big difference is that in real life Bundy tried to kill Kloepfer once, but this is never shown in the movie. During the film, Bundy is portrayed as always being kind and caring to Kloepfer until his death.

For me, the biggest problem with the film was the pacing. Some scenes that were not essential were longer than they needed to be while other crucial moments felt a rushed. I feel that because of that, some research had to be done on my part in order to feel confident that I fully understood the story and plotline.

The film itself was extremely entertaining and engaging. All the actors were believable, and the casting was done superbly, specifically with having cast John Malkovich as the judge, Edward Cowart. The performances by Efron and Collins especially were captivating. I would not be surprised if they would be up for a couple of awards next awards season, especially Efron. As mentioned before, people were worried that Netflix would romanticize Bundy but I think they handled it perfectly. Of course, Bundy had to be charismatic at first, that’s how he was in real life, that’s how he was able to get away with all his crimes and schemes for so long.

I also appreciate that the film didn’t show Bundy committing the crimes, except for the last scene. Showing the crimes being committed isn’t necessary to the plot because the audience knows that they did in fact happen, and the movie is focused on Kloepfer and Bundy’s relationship, not solely Bundy’s crimes. I do however think they seem to lose sight of Kloepfer halfway through the movie. She does still have scenes showing her grieving and processing everything happening in the news, but I think she should have had more screentime since the movie claimed to be about Kloepfer and Bundy, not just Bundy.

I must admit that I was a little bored with the cinematography throughout the movie. Every shot felt the same, and there was no creativeness when it came to the shots or transitions. I did enjoy the extreme close-ups during the ending scene between Bundy and Kloepfer because I felt that it added that necessary closeness and feeling of high stakes that was needed for the scene. In addition to that, the production design and costumes were good. They were nothing memorable, but they fulfilled the role they were meant to.

Overall, I think that this movie is worth the watch simply for the acting alone. Efron breaks out of his mold of playing the laid-back, attractive jock and cements himself as a versatile actor. Collins becomes a household name after this movie, not because of her famous dad, but because of her beautiful, realistic portrayal of Kloepfer. If you have a Netflix account, make sure to watch this movie ASAP in order to be able to partake in all the buzz surrounding it, and if you don’t have a Netflix account, I recommend borrowing your friend’s account simply to watch this captivating, jaw-dropping film.