I will preface this by saying I don’t like serial murder docudramas that glorify the killers in any way. Our fascination with serial killers exists though which invites films such as Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. We are drawn in by serial killers. It is one of the things I like about writing about cold cases, you can’t sensationalize the killers because you don’t know who they are.
I did not want to watch a hack-and-slash take on the Ted Bundy case. I also was not expecting anything really new or revealing. Bundy has not been news for years – though some new facts do emerge from time-to-time.
This is not that kind of docudrama. Instead it focuses on how Ted lied and deceived his girlfriend and how he manipulated those around him. That was a sigh of relief.
I am from the generation where Mark Harmon played Bundy years ago. I will say that Zac Efron did a reasonably good job at portraying this waste of a human being. Comparing him to Mark Harmon is fair, but not necessary. Efron looks like him. At the end of the film, you see some of the real-life scenes that were recreated in the film and you realize that Efron was pretty close to the mark.
I was surprised at a few things I didn’t know about the case that were presented – so it was good. I think the producers took the safest angle they could, leveraging the book by Bundy’s former girlfriend. There are some things the docudrama omitted, most likely for dramatic effect. If my memory serves, she found plaster of Paris and he stole the crowbar from her. Bundy used fake casts to lure in his victims – which was much more than what her film-version revealed. Other things were added for dramatic effect. That’s what happens when Hollywood gets ahold of source material. I understand it, but no one should watch Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and think of it as a documentary. It is, at best, in the ballpark with the facts.
I’m not disappointed, but I wasn’t overwhelmed either. It is worth watching, but I am going to tune in a documentary to get some real facts and refresh my memories of these cases. Overall, it is 3.5 stars (ish) out of 5.