‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ review: Zac Efron stars as Ted Bundy in Netflix movie

Netflix premiered the four-part documentary “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” in January, unleashed amid a mini-wave of initiatives devoted to what has been recognized as “celebrity monsters.” The Bundy sequence was produced by veteran documentarian Joe Berlinger, who makes a unusual foray into scripted leisure by directing this movie, which derives its title from one of the best ways the determine at Bundy’s trial characterised his killing spree.

Shot in a spare methodology, “Extremely Wicked” adheres intently to the main points of the case. It’s tailor-made from the information “The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy” by Elizabeth Kendall, whom Collins portrays in the movie.

By emphasizing Kendall’s perspective, the tone approximates that of a traditional Lifetime movie, the place a girl is shocked to discover a horrible secret in regards to the man with whom she turns into involved.

Still, the unsettling factors of the Bundy story — notably the considered him being “dreamy,” as one courtroom onlooker observes — are solely exacerbated by having Efron play him.

Because the primary goal is break up between Kendall and Bundy, the movie will not be notably graphic. The narrative, in reality, significantly disjointedly ping-pongs between the 2 — racing by way of Bundy and Kendall’s courtship, her preliminary faith in him and her later efforts to maneuver on collectively together with her life, whereas chronicling his time in jail, his new relationship with Carole Ann Boone (Kaya Scodelario) and bizarre habits whereas performing as his private authorized skilled all through the trial.

The most necessary draw back is that it’s robust to dramatize Bundy in this pattern with out someway glamorizing him — an issue then and now. Both the documentary and the movie make remember that the courtroom was full of youthful women who’ve been oddly drawn to the case, by way of a mixture of Bundy’s magnificence and the sordidness of his crimes.

Zac Efron and Lily Collins, right, star in the Netflix feature "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile."'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' review: Zac Efron stars as Ted Bundy in Netflix movie

Efron not solely bears a placing resemblance to Bundy (the hairdo really helps) nonetheless deftly captures the off-kilter nature of his demeanor. That wouldn’t elevate the material, basically, as loads as it does add to the queasiness watching it.

This question of how media depict serial killers, notably, goes once more a very long time, and the fascination with Bundy is hardly new. Mark Harmon carried out him in “The Deliberate Stranger,” a 1986 TV movie broadcast three years sooner than Bundy’s execution, at a time when neighborhood TV was the favored medium for this sort of fare.

Netflix has nonetheless been questioned in regards to the abundance of violent content material materials on the service, along with a Washington Post article titled “Does Netflix have a killer problem?”

In his director’s assertion, Berlinger notes that the Bundy trial was the first to be nationally televised, and that the case “turned serial murder into a national television spectacle.” Drawing a line from then to the current urge for meals for true crime, he says, “The tone of the film is a self-reflexive look at the dangers of treating murderers as mainstream entertainment.”

That argument, frankly, seems as questionable as it is self-serving. But if there’s really anyone in cost for the true-crime wave in widespread, and the Ted Bundy portion of it in express, all people — from these watching these initiatives to, certain, these of us writing about them — may want to start by taking a look in the mirror.

“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” premieres May 3 on Netflix and in select theaters.

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