Zac Efron's true-life serial killer thriller isn't the movie you're expecting to see
JOE's review of one of the most talked about movies of 2019.
Ted Bundy confessed to over 30 murders that took place between 1974 and 1978, but for 90% of the run-time of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, you'd be forgiven for thinking you're watching a movie about mistaken identity.
In fact, had the movie not told us who Zac Efron was playing in advance, and then dropped that particular bombshell closer to the end of the movie, it might have caused an incredibly powerful reaction in viewers.
Instead, you're left watching a movie about one of the most notorious serial killers in all of history, and why his busy (off-screen) murdering schedule is causing trouble at home.
Efron is actually pretty fantastic in the lead role, even if Hollywood are stretching Bundy's reported "handsomeness" to a ridiculous level here. Despite that, there is a believable amount of charisma, depth, and intelligence to ensure that the audience does fear him, even when we don't actually see him do anything.
Perhaps that is for the best though, as it plays into the movie's mentality that maybe Bundy didn't do any of the stuff he's being accused of, even as the witnesses and evidence begin to pile up. If the movie smashed cut to Efron violently killing one of the women, then it would deflate that aspect of the movie... even though we know before the movie begins that he is Ted Bundy.
Plus, Efron's injection of intelligence into his take on Bundy might just seem that much smarter when compared to every other character in the movie, who seem light-bendingly dense.
Lily Collins as Liz Kendall, Bundy's wife, seems to literally take years to clue into the fact that her husband might actually not be that great a guy, and the reason we're given for that drawn-out conclusion is because... Bundy is totally hot?
Ditto a few other females dotted throughout the movie, and there is a smart take to be made here, with the comparison between the cult of celebrity and those willing to forgive them just about anything. There have been plenty of examples of high-profile famous folk doing some horrific things in the last few years, and the almost immediate Twitter reactions of "Yeah, but they're so sexy, so who cares?"
That would be a clever spine to twist the rest of Bundy's story around, but Extremely Wicked still seems hung up on portraying Bundy as being simply misunderstood. If they'd allowed Efron off the leash, and had him show both Bundy's preturnatural charm, and that "shockingly evil and vile" side too, then we might have been on to a winner.
Instead we get a movie that is extremely well-acted, but shockingly chaste and forgettable.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is released in Irish cinemas and on Sky Cinema from Friday 3 May.
Clip via Sky Cinema