by Joey Fago ’20
Biographical crime thriller “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” directed by Joe Berlinger dramatizes the story of the notorious serial killer Ted Bundy.
The movie is led by actor Zac Efron as Bundy and Lily Collins as Bundy’s long time love interest Liz Kendall. It takes the viewer through a time line of Bundy’s infamous climb to fame as a serial killer; starting from when Bundy first meets Liz Kendall to the day he is executed.
While this real time line of Bundy’s life is established, it mainly takes the view of seeing Bundy as a “normal” person rather than a documentary that would show the true side of him as a serial killer.
It is clear that Berlinger wanted to create a movie that told the story through the eyes of Kendall. With the movie opening with a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe typed on the screen reading, “Few people have the imagination for reality,” Berlinger’s vision can clearly be seen.
The quote describes that so many people could not see that Bundy’s convictions were reality due to the character he was playing.
Bundy was a put together white law school student with a long term girlfriend; why would anyone think he was a criminal?
He was a loving and compassionate boyfriend; why would Kendall not believe that all of his convictions were false?
It was Berlinger’s vision to portray Bundy in his film just as I described him but also slowly have Efron break down this facade of Bundy to reveal his reality.
I thought Berlinger’s approach to the story was incredibly creative and I was able to see his vision fully. But due to Berlinger’s creative approach to telling Bundy’s story, it has faced some criticism.
Many critics have made the claim that the movie glorifies Bundy’s killings, which I believe is not true at all.
Berlinger has developed a movie that takes you through the life of Bundy from the perspective of his girlfriend who was blinded by love and did not believe he committed any of the crimes he was convicted of.
This portrayal of Bundy even had me at some points feeling bad for him because the movie portrayed him as a “normal” guy.
From the movie, all I saw was this “normal” guy which means that Berlinger did his job at telling the story through Kendall’s eyes who thought he was innocent for a very long time.
Before watching this movie I did not know a lot about Bundy, just that he killed a lot of young women, which is why I believe I felt kind of sorry for him.
Soon enough, Berlinger brings the movie to the reality of Bundy’s convictions which almost comes as a shock. But the way Berlinger chose to reveal this reality was truly amazing
Berlinger shows Kendall finally confronting Bundy on the day of his execution. Kendall asks Bundy how he killed one of the women and Bundy finally tells her.
He takes his finger and writes on the glass of the prison room, “hacksaw.” This is evidently a shock to Kendall and the audience because it is the first time Bundy admits to his killings.
While watching the movie, it becomes clear that Berlinger did his research on Bundy because the movie turns Bundy’s exact words from court and the infamous “Ted Bundy” tapes into dramatized dialogue.
I think this was brilliant because the viewer can really see the movie’s intentions to tell the true story of Bundy.
This real dialogue also developed aspects of a documentary into the movie, which I thought was one of the best parts. To include this real dialogue was truly a way to educate the audience.
The film felt both like a drama and an educational documentary, which I felt was brilliant.
Overall, I thought this was an exceptional film that did not become too boring as a normal documentary might.
Berlinger was able to use true facts about Bundy but put it into a movie that almost felt fictional.
This vision Berlinger had for this film was also one of the most creative approaches to this story that I think any director could have taken, which is why I believe this movie should get massive praise.