Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Zac Efron in a scene from 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile.'
Zac Efron in a scene from 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile.'
Photo: Voltage Pictures & Filmfinity


1/5 Stars


A chronicle of the crimes of Ted Bundy, from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, who refused to believe the truth about him for years.


During Ted Bundy's murder trial in 1979, Judge Edward Cowart in his sentencing described Bundy's crimes as "extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile". 

Now in 2019, those exact words are used as the title of the biographical film about Bundy starring the handsome Hollywood hunk Zac Efron in the lead role.

Ironically, those words dissipate in director Joe Berlinger's dangerously glamourised cinematic interpretation of Bundy's former girlfriend, Elizabeth Kendall's (Kloepfer) book The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy

What the viewer gets to see instead is a heavily romanticised retelling that turns a monster, who confessed to murdering more than 30 women, into a brooding and mysterious stranger. 

Yes, Bundy was notorious for his charm which he used to his advantage during his much publicised trial that was even broadcast on TV. 

In fact, during his sentencing judge Cowart even expressed his dismay in Bundy's looming death sentence, saying: "It is an utter tragedy for this court to see such a total waste of humanity as I've experienced in this courtroom. You're a bright young man. You'd have made a good lawyer, and I would have loved to have you practice in front of me, but you went another way, partner. Take care of yourself. I don't feel any animosity toward you. I want you to know that. Once again, take care of yourself."

If that makes your jaw drop to the floor in disbelief wait until you see how Berlinger's big screen feature turns a serial killer into a rock star by portraying him as a handsome gentleman with a naughty streak. Wink wink. A ripped Zac Efron shows off his sculpted naked body in all its glory in a film that falls madly in love with its subject matter almost like a teenager would their celebrity crush. 

Even in death, Bundy's privilege as an attractive white male sees him portrayed as a stoic figure instead of a coldblooded killer in a disconcerting way. 

Moreover, what about the victims? Their names are listed in the end credits as if they were merely background actors in a story about the man who chose to cut their lives short and mutilate their corpses violently. 

The only thing that's extremely wicked, shockingly evil and vile about this film is the way it managed to turn a murderer into a movie star. I'm genuinely baffled that a project like this can see the light in the era we live in today.



READ NEXT | Beautiful killers: TV’s obsession with making serial killers sexy

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24