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Ted Bundy movie saved by Zac Efron's performance

2019-05-13 11:40

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile
Director: Joe Berlinger
Starring: Zac Efron, Lily Collins
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Zac Efron has come a long way since his High School Musical days. He ditched the teeny-bopper image for hilarious, albeit dirty, comedies, such as Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates and Neighbours 2, and has now taken a sharp turn portraying serial killer Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

Anyone who knows anything about serial killers knows the name Ted Bundy. Seen by his community as an attractive, charming man, below the surface Bundy was as abhorrent as the film’s title implies.

A serial killer, kidnapper, rapist, burglar, necrophile and sociopath, he confessed to killing 30 women, a number that could possibly be much higher. It’s easy to call Bundy a “monster”, but calling criminals monsters absolves us of having to do the mental work around who these people are.

The truth is murderers and rapists aren’t bogeymen who hide in the dark – but are those who live among us.

This film does its utmost to make us realise how “normal” Bundy appeared to those around him. No wonder Bundy’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins), refused to accept his guilt for years.

A commendable feature of this film is that director Joe Berlinger resists the impulse of glamourising the violence.

Too many serial killer films take sadistic pleasure in portraying explicit and gratuitous details, turning the viewer into a sadistic voyeur. The work of Eli Roth and many male directors come to mind – there is almost a sadistic pleasure in portraying women being tortured.

This film alludes to the killings but does not show every explicit detail of them.

Unfortunately, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is not complex or far reaching enough to be THE biopic on Ted Bundy.

The plot is too humdrum and almost documentary-style in nature, with director Berlinger not pushing the envelope or experimenting stylistically.

If you’re looking for a general overview of the Bundy case, as well as a killer (excuse the pun) performance by Efron, this is the film for you, but a more encompassing depiction is yet to be made.

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June 16 2019