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It's no secret that Netflix loves feeding into the world's strange fascination with serial crime. Making a Murderer, Conversations with a Killer, Inside the Criminal Mind, and tons of other true crime shows will pop up on your recommended page... especially after you've watched their newest crime movie, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile.
'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile'
Hotly debated and advertised before even being picked up by Netflix, the movie focuses on the trials of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. But, unlike the recent mini-series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, this time audiences see the action through the eyes of Bundy's longtime girlfriend, Liz.
The movie has been debated as showing a softer, more comforting side of Bundy, and many believe it may make viewers sympathize with Bundy's plight. However, audiences will see the reality of how Bundy was treated, how he treated others, and how he was accurately charged with his numerous crimes.
The movie's flight to fame, however, has only a little to do with our criminal fascination. Stars Lily Collins and Zac Efron don't hurt the movie's buzz, and the fact that Netflix picked it up, and let us view it a lot earlier than previously anticipated only helped fuel the obsession with seeing the movie ourselves.
Personally though, this viewer was a little let down by the movie after all the hype it had been garnering. The movie does a great job of portraying the trials in true detail and getting each actors' speeches, mannerisms, and importance in the trial correct. However, this can just as easily be seen (in true tape instead of acting) by watching Conversations with a Killer. Not to mention that the mini-series portrays multiple of Bundy's crimes, while the movie only shows one of the murders in order to keep the focus on Liz.
Efron's portrayal of Bundy, while extremely well-researched, falls a little flat as an actual character. Efron seems to be trying too hard to recreate the truth, instead of using his acting talents we've seen in his previous works. He's so focused on being Ted, that he often seems to forget that he is just playing Ted. While in some cases, such dedication to character can be a good thing, for Efron it simply makes him seem crazy, which Bundy was not meant to be presented as.
But the saving grace for this movie comes in actress Lily Collins' portrayal of Bundy's girlfriend, Liz Kloepfer. Collins takes the time she spent researching the role (often by actually talking to Liz), and interprets it into her own vision of Liz as she slowly breaks down from the guilt of both turning the police onto Bundy in the first place, and from still loving him despite everything she knows he has done. Collins, as the main character of the movie, is often meek and ashamed of what she has done, but her redeeming moment of triumph at the end of the film shows her real strength in having stayed in such a relationship, and having overcome her guilt after so long.
Overall, this viewer suggests watching Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile for Collins' and Kloepfer's turns in the spotlight. Both women portray the story of Ted Bundy in a light that has yet to have been shown, and is probably why the film has garnered such buzz in the true crime community. However, while watching Liz get her justice may be a new spin, those interested in the real story should also watch Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes to fully understand how "extremely wicked, shockingly evil, and vile" Bundy's life truly was.