Zac Efron, Macie Carmosino and Lily Collins appear in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile directed by Joe Berlinger, an official selection of the Premieres program the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Brian Douglas.
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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019) Review
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is worth watching to see Zac Efron as you’ve never seen him before; he doesn’t quite capture the manic side of Ted Bundy but he is certainly engaging making this well worth checking out.
Plot: A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy.
Review: The title Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and it’s certainly an odd name for a movie but as anyone who is familiar with the history of Ted Bundy this was something the judge said to him to describe his crimes. In this drama that tells the story of Bundy’s arrest and subsequent trial Zac Efron gives arguably his best performance to date as the smooth talking, manipulative (literal) ladykiller.
While watching you’d could almost be forgiven for finding Bundy as rather amiable as the film almost paints him as the real victim but that’s quite deliberate as we the audience are essentially like the jury he is trying to convince of his innocence. As great as Efron is, he is a bit too pretty and lacks the jittery menace of the real killer; obviously this is just a movie portrayal but when you see footage of the real Ted Bundy to me he immediately came across as nuts and it’s hard to believe people would fall for his “charms”.
The performances all round are impressive and I barely recognized Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) as Liz’s co-worker Jerry; he’s a very appealing character and is there for Liz (Lily Collins) as she tries to come to terms with what she’s discovered about the man she loved. Collins never disappoints and is one of my favourite actresses working today and she makes you nearly root for Liz who clearly went through Hell as she blamed herself for not noticing who Bundy was earlier.
I’m not entirely sure I bought Jim Parsons as Florida Prosecutor Larry Simpson as I can only ever really see him as Sheldon from Big Bang Theory; he was decent enough in the role but it’s hard to separate him from such an iconic character.
John Malkovich plays the Judge who is surprisingly one of his most likeable characters to date with some choice dialgoue.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is engaging from the start and never goes into the overly gruesome details of the murders, although we get enough to see what an absolute monster he was. It would have been more interesting to see more of his extracurricular activities as it’s a bit of a one note portrayal which will generally leave you cold.
Overall Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is the type of movie you will watch once, praise Efron for giving one of his best performances but it’s not something I would revisit on a regular basis.