“Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile”

Illustration by Shannon DeLurio

By Kiahna White-Alcain

30 confessions.

7 states.

4 years of crime.

4 tapes, and now, one highly anticipated, crime thrilling film.

“Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile,” was released worldwide to the public on May 3, available on Netflix and in select theaters. The film, starring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and Lily Collins as his long-term girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall, for me delivered a striking message of sympathy and grief.

Directed by Joe Berlinger, the idea for the film started back in 2017 at the Cannes Film Festival, with production beginning in January 2018. When the trailer was released April 2, 2019, there was an abundance of controversial thoughts surrounding the film.

As it was announced that Efron would be playing Bundy, I remember many people jumping to the conclusion that the film would then glorify the tasks and actions that Bundy made, because of Efron’s looks. I remember all across social media the many people that were criticizing Berlinger on taking on this film and producing its work.

On January 24, 2019, “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” was released on Netflix. This four-part documentary series was sourced with over 100 interviews and actual footage from Ted Bundy, his family, friends and surviving victims. Ironically, this documentary series was created, written and directed by Berlinger as well.

“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” delivered a different sort of sympathy that I wasn’t expecting. Before watching “The Ted Bundy Tapes,” I knew minimal information about Bundy aside from the fact that he was from Seattle and got away with a lot of murders. I feel like I’m of the small percentage of the world that hasn’t quite fallen into the obsession of true crime. After watching “The Ted Bundy Tapes,” I could admit the fascination was there, but they left me satisfied enough by the end that I wasn’t feeling overly obsessed.

The film starring Efron and Collins served a whole new sense of sympathy that I never thought would come with a movie tied to someone like Bundy. In no way does the film glorify or justify the actions made. It comes off as a very cinematic, storyline feeling. It unwraps this sense of sympathy and grief that was felt by Kendall, who was so closely tied to Bundy, and the small glimpses we got of his victims.

I can agree that Efron plays Bundy fantastically in a manipulative, conniving, sociopathic way that craved both attention and fame in the same way that Bundy did. Throughout the film, it’s almost scary with how the resemblance was played by Efron as Bundy.

I can see how “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” can glamorize Bundy and his actions at first glance. After watching the film in depth to the end, it’s clear that his actions were neither innocent nor unconstructed.

It’s sickening to think about his careless actions and how convinced in his mind he was that his actions were neither wrong nor true. While I would never think someone like Bundy deserved more time on Earth than he got, after watching the film I thought about how interesting it would’ve been to be able to study the brain of someone like Bundy in today’s age with the type of medicine and tools available.

While something so gory and so true can seem painful to watch, “Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile” delivers exactly what it should, and is well worth the time.

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