MATTHEW LIEDKE ON FILM: Efron gives impressive performance in Netflix's Bundy film
Ted Bundy's crimes in the 1970s were accurately described in the courtroom as "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile."
Those actions he became notorious for aren't shown much in the new film featuring those courtroom words, but the viewer can still get insight into the person. Available on Netflix, "Extremely Wicked" stars Zac Efron as Bundy, and mainly follows the infamous criminal through the investigation and legal processes.
Along with Efron's portrayal of Bundy, "Extremely Wicked" showcases the stories of those who knew him. One prominent example is Liz Kendall (played by Lily Collins), who was Bundy's girlfriend before the investigations started revealing his actions.
The strongest aspect of "Extremely Wicked," directed by Joe Berlinger, is how much it doesn't show. The film hardly features any sequences showcasing the criminal activity Bundy did. Instead, the movie dives into just how manipulative Bundy could be.
From scenes where Bundy is pulled over and is cooperating with a police officer, to where he represents himself in the courtroom, "Extremely Wicked" paints a picture of how the individual was able to create a charming persona to try to win people over.
What makes this movie work is Efron's performance. As an audience, knowing the Bundy character is putting on a "mask" to hide his true intentions makes the figure all the more chilling, and Efron does commendable work pulling this aspect off.
The film also benefits from a strong supporting performance from Collins. Kendall is clearly a character in a troubling position when she learns about who Bundy really was. Collins drives this point home through her performance, showing a clearly disturbed person.
From a story perspective, "Shockingly Evil" could have been a little tighter. The first half of the movie is paced more like a mini-series while the second comes across more like a standard courtroom drama picture. The inconsistency is fairly noticeable.
Overall, for a Netflix film to watch at home, "Extremely Wicked" works for the most part. Some above average performances, especially from Efron, and a focus on the manipulative side of a monster creates a rather compelling film. 3.5 out of 5.