This drama is inspired by the true story of Ted Bundy – one of America’s most infamous serial killers during the 1970s. The film does seem to follow very closely to real-life events with embedded flashbacks of the televised trial from the 1970s at the end. However, with drama thrown in, not every aspect was shown in this film and there were some false identities too, so don’t take this as a truthful documentary of what actually happened to this “extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile” murderer.
When first exposed with this film, my initial reaction was a confusion to the extremely long name. Although after watching it, it seemed a fitting name from the Judge’s own words from the 1970s when he sentenced this pathological killer. The sentencing of the film is one unusual yet mesmerising to watch in the cinematic elements with the speech performed by the brilliant John Malkovich. Something that cannot be denied is the excellence of the acting in this film. Whereas everyone is proclaiming that Zac Efron is the star of the film as Ted Bundy; I believe that the fiancé whose side the story is told from, is the most powerful performance on screen. This being Lily Collins playing the betrayed, broken Liz Kendall who fell deeply for Ted Bundy.
I do have a few reservations for ‘Extremely Wicked’. Where the trailer may make the film seem riddled with the killings of this guilty man, watching the film I felt a completely different presence that dominated. I couldn’t shake the feeling that every moment of the film, until the very end, just tried to plea the innocence of this man. It seemed to glorify a serial killer as innocent where doubt only shook at the very end. This was because those that believed innocence dominated the screen, where those proving his guilt shared much less time. I feel this is where the film did fall, they should have persisted more with the facts of guilt, rather than dramatizing a pathological liar with more innocence. I do understand this was an element of history, where people did believe his innocence due to his ‘looks’, although he was found guilty and if I was presented with the film only, I wouldn’t completely understand why until the end. Which is hauntingly creepy at the thought.
Overall, this is not a terribly film, far from it. It’s a highly dramatized rendition of a prolific killer in America’s past. Acting is brilliant and you do become drawn into the opposing sides of Ted Bundy. Additionally, time does race past and you do need to pay attention to everything happening to grasp the full understanding of this version of Ted Bundy’s life from the point of view of his fiancé. Safe to say, Zac Efron is a completely different actor from his Troy Bolton days.