Netflix has been capitalizing on one of the most wicked killers of our time, Ted Bundy. It began with the docuseries "Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes," and followed with a trailer for the new film, "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," starring Zac Efron as the infamous killer.
Directed by Joe Berlinger, "Extremely" (what I will refer to the film for the rest of this article) is based around the life of Ted Bundy beginning with time surrounding when he was caught by police. It then addresses the psyche not only of Bundy himself but of all those he interacted with. Then, the film gives a dramatized inside look at the trial and everything that happened. I have had a relatively good experience with Netflix's original films, with movies such as "Roma," "The Dirt," and "Bird Box," and I also had a relatively good one with this film as well.
One of my favorite films of all time is a true crime film, David Fincher's "Zodiac." Not only did "Zodiac" explore the crimes of the killer that was never caught, but there was also an underlying message about obsession and putting too many eggs into one basket. While "Extremely" is certainly entertaining all the way through, there does not seem to be an underlying message that we can take away and learn from. Due to this, the deep, philosophical appeal of the film suffers.
In terms of other gripes I might have about the film, if you watched the docuseries released, you will understand that there are some discrepancies between the actual happenings of the case, and what is depicted in the film. I wish that these liberties would not have been taken due to the fact that it adds to the reality and education purposes of the film when every fact of the case is transferred onto the screen unaltered.
However, what saves the entire film is Zac Efron's performance. I would say Efron is present in about 90% of the film, and whenever he is on the screen, he just owns it. The ability to adapt to a character as Efron did is really unparalleled when compared to the portrayals of other infamous killers, including Jeremy Renner's performance as Jeffrey Dahmer. It is incredibly hard to describe Efron's performance other than just saying he is Ted Bundy for the entire film's runtime, and that alone is grounds for giving this a watch if you a fancy a good true crime film.
Simply due to the fact that this film is readily available on Netflix, I'd recommend giving it a watch. While it certainly is not a deep movie with philosophical roots, there is more than enough entertainment to keep you interested and immerse you into the psychologically disturbing universe of Ted Bundy. Give it a watch next time you fire up Netflix.