Efron excels as Ted Bundy

By Grace Jones | posted on May 17, 2019

ANOTHER day, another Netflix Original that makes you stop, drop and roll for the remote to hear that iconic opening thump-thump.

Social media had been in a whirlwind of excitement in recent months after Netflix announced they would be releasing Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Vile and Evil starring Zac Efron and Lily Collins.

The reason why everyone was so excited was to see Efron starring as what is considered to be America’s most notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy.

For anyone unaware of his crimes, Bundy confessed to brutally murdering 30 women in the 1970s across a number of states, had a couple of daring escapes from custody and was known to be a bit easy on the eye for the ladies.

So when I heard that Efron was playing Bundy, I was intrigued.

Why, you may ask? Especially since he’s more known for comedies and the odd rom-com and generally speaking not ‘that kind of actor’?

Well, let me break it down.

Bundy was a hottie back then. Not so much now in comparison to today’s beauty standards, but he had girls swooning over him and using choice words such as “dreamy”.

He was intelligent, well spoken, well dressed and had the kind of face that people would associate with your nice boy-next-door.

The reason it was so hard to believe Bundy committed those heinous crimes before the evidence started piling up was because he was able to make himself seem like someone who wouldn’t hurt a fly, much like Charlie in Me, Myself and Irene.

In my eyes, that’s why Efron was perfect for the role in emulating such a horrific character.

His pearly white smile, tantalising wink and ability to display no emotion much like a psychopath is terrifying.

The film itself is one heartbreaking and horrifying scene after the other that tugs on the heart strings and unsettles you to your core.

From the subject matter it’s easy to see that it would be a film about Ted Bundy’s story, but in my eyes it’s more a film about his long-term squeeze Liz Kendall played by Collins.

Collins’ large brown eyes, slender frame and bottle of wine or spirits took up the majority of screen time rather than the gruesome and tokenistic reenactments of women being battered, assaulted and murdered.

Throughout the film we follow the path of Collins’ character as she is introduced to Bundy, falls in love and then finds out about his arrest in Utah where everything quickly goes downhill.

People always talk about Bundy’s known and unknown victims, but forget about Kendall’s own victimisation.

Bundy manipulated Kendall throughout their relationship and even allegedly attempted to kill her at least twice, which wasn’t mentioned in the film.

Collins hauntingly displays the effects of that manipulation throughout the film with textbook depressive behaviour.

The film is more about her struggle to accept the mounting evidence against Bundy and her decision to try and protect more women from being attacked.

The cinematography is gripping where it emphasises the small changes in expression of the actors to convey emotion or lack thereof, and is clever in using home movies to show the passage of time.

What I feel like is a bit of a shame is that Kaya Scodelario’s character Carole Ann Boone is somewhat one dimensional – much the same as Kendall.

Bundy’s character is like an onion with the amount of layers he has with his cool confidence, manipulation, intelligence, instinct to harm women, ability to change his appearance, fathering a child and seemingly to never stop loving Kendall.

In Kendall we see a single mother who loves a man and then turns into an alcoholic.

In Boone we see a glorified fan girl and nothing else.

It’s just a damn shame.

All that said, Director Joe Berlinger manages to kill off any feelings of sympathy the audience might have for Bundy in one simple word that left me cringing into the couch and making a grab for the nearest blanket to hide in.