The film is based on the book ‘The Phantom Prince: My life with Ted Bundy’ by Elizabeth Kendall (formerly Kloepfer) and therefore primarily focuses on her relationship with Bundy. The story is heart breaking as it depicts the real life vulnerability of a woman just looking for some security. Lilly Collins powerfully portrays Elizabeth Kendall’s complex feelings towards Bundy and the life long struggle she went through. The authenticity of her emotions radiates through the screen making it impossible not to feel everything along with her.
Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is charismatic and subtly evil. He shows how Bundy was a master manipulator, charming everyone he met in to doing his bidding. His looks may seem to some like he is glamourising a murderer, but this was Bundy’s whole persona. The film does nothing more than depict what is already known as fact. Filmmaker Joe Berlinger concentrates on remaking memorable media moments from Bundy’s trial. These scenes run along side Elizabeth Kendall’s story creating a narrative that is informative and representative. Although, as the film is based on Kendall’s perspective, it felt like more could have been done to showcase this. There were moments that could have been explored more in more detail to fully establish her emotional journey.
The performances of the principle actors are what make this film powerful. As well as Efron and Collins, John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart and Jim Parsons as Larry Simpson carry the densely factual and harrowing narrative. With out these performances the film lacks a certain creativity which is commonly found in films based on real life events.
Overall ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’ was very enjoyable. As someone who knows the ins and outs of Bundy’s story I found watching the story from another point of view incredibly interesting as it was devastating.