Charismatic or fascinating serial killers are a well-established type in Hollywood mythology, Hannibal Lecter in his many incarnations being only the most celebrated.
Lecter, of course, is fiction, but Ted Bundy was as close to the reality behind the myth as you’re likely to find. A celebrity already in his own day, Bundy was attractive, clever, and charismatic, playing to the TV cameras at his trial and drawing young women to his trial like groupies, styled to resemble the favored type of his victims.
Filmmaker Joe Berlinger’s fascination with Bundy is obvious: In addition to Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as Bundy, he also created the four-part documentary miniseries “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” for Netflix.
Despite its factual basis, Extremely Wicked embraces the Hollywood myth to a disturbing degree.
I’m tempted to say that Efron is an “iconic” Bundy. He gives a committed performance, not as Bundy exactly, but as Bundy’s public face at its most presentable, all smooth charm and magnetism.
It’s this face that he shows to Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins), a single mom with whom he becomes involved, and to others from potential victims to authorities.
But first-time screenwriter Michael Werwie so wants viewers to identify with Liz — to feel that we, too, could be just as deceived by those closest to us — that he stacks the deck.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.