Netflix Movie Review: Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

An interesting take on the Ted Bundy story, this was well acted and effective in its tone and messaging. Rather than focus on the crimes, this film is all about the trial and events surrounding Bundy’s captures. There is more emphasis put on the impact of these events on his girlfriend. This shift in focus allows for heartier performances from the two leads, Zac Efron and Lily Collins.

Both Efron and Collins give good, solid performances. Collins can sometimes lean toward the melodramatic but she is convincing as the emotionally abused, naive Liz Kendall. It is Efron, however, that steals every scene he is in. Obviously he is the focus of the film but he deserves the credit. He is egotistical but charming, and he is incredibly delusional. Efron fully immersed himself in this role, and the result is a captivating performance that carries the film.

While the performances are good, the pacing doesn’t always work. Whereas The Deliberate Stranger did a thorough if not necessarily exciting job of laying out a detailed timeline of Bundy’s attacks, this film jumps around to try and hit certain “highlights,” so to speak. It plays more with style rather than paying detailed attention to accuracy. As such, it is an interesting experience in entertainment but not as any sort of historical commentary. The editing choices were also a bit odd at times. Again, I think this was a style choice that ended up making some things a bit hard to follow, if not pretty or interesting to look at.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the film are the reactions from people during Bundy’s trial, and his “celebrity” status. The film doesn’t shy away from casting Efron as Bundy in a good light but it also makes a point to contrast his charming personality with the violence of his behavior. Thus when his fans show up at the trial, they are not presented in a flattering manner.

Despite some pacing and editing issues, as a performance piece, and commentary on murder obsession culture, I thought the film was effective and insightful.

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TV Movie Review: The Deliberate Stranger

With all the buzz around Netflix’s Ted Bundy Tapes and their acquisition of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, I thought I’d check out the original interpretation of the infamous killer’s rampage. I went in search of the 1986 television film starring Mark Harmon, eventually finding it for about $17 on DVD on Amazon.

Now that it has been several months since I actually saw this, as well as the other Ted Bundy film, I guess I should get a review up. This is a two part television special series that originally aired over two consecutive nights on NBC, and covers Bundy’s attacks in the late 70s, as well as his capture and trials. It was released in 1986, three years before Bundy would be executed.

I’ll start off by saying I really like Mark Harmon as an actor. He always has a lot of charisma and usually he is playing a really likable character, so this was an interesting role for him. He still has the charm but he’s playing Ted Bundy, who of course is not a likable person. I wasn’t around when all of these events were taking place (I was born a year before his execution), so I don’t have a frame of reference for how well events in the film match up with real life ones. However, as I’m told, it is a fairly accurate representation.

This is a pretty straightforward telling of Bundy’s story. It hits all of the story points from the start of the investigation into the disappearances, to his attacks in Seattle, Utah, and Colorado, and finally his recapture in Florida and the subsequent trial. There isn’t anything really innovating in its approach but I think it is an effective film. Harmon is good in the role, and by trying to be as inclusive, and as detailed as possible with the number of attacks, the filmmakers successfully drive home the point of just how violent and vicious Bundy was.