Netflix’s new film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile starring Zac Efron and Lily Collins was highly anticipated and somewhat controversial. The story follows the persecution of Theodore Bundy, infamous 1970’s serial killer. As the film was released, so were the opinions of a multitude of viewers speaking out against the sensationalization of the horrific story. Many feel that the film is evoking sympathy for a man that would later confess to 30 murders.
However, after multiple viewings of the film, the story is speaking from an long-forgotten perspective. Bundy, a bright young law student, was adored by the American public. He had no previous convictions, a promising future, and a young family with his girlfriend. Even after his arrest, neighbors and colleagues were defensive of Bundy’s character despite the evidence presented against him. His charisma and appeal is often discussed, but rarely demonstrated. Efron and the Extremely Wicked team did exactly that - illustrated the public's hesitancy to believe such a man was capable of serial murders.
Yet, at the time of his confession Bundy spoke against that very mentality when saying “Society wants to believe it can identify evil people, or bad or harmful people, but it's not practical. There are no stereotypes” (The Only Living Witness). This is the film’s angle, to remind the current consumers of media that evil is not always recognizable. The doubt that was expressed by hundreds of American women that this young, handsome man would commit atrocities, saturates the film. A cautionary tale, the films arch takes the contemporary viewer through the journey of a vintage citizen.
Every aspect of the film broke viewers expectations. Most likely anticipated to be attached to Bundy’s name are horror films and documentaries. However, both of these genres fail to humanize the actual person who lived and breathed through these murders. Though it may seem dangerous and insensitive, to humanize Bundy is to humanize the story. By the time the scene of Bundy’s final trial occurs in the film and his crimes are detailed, even the informed viewer is confused as to how such a charismatic man could possibly be so violent.
The film chases Bundy’s elusive inhumanity while the police were chasing the trut