Directed by the veteran documentarian Joe Berlinger, starring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, and Lily Collins as Elizabeth Kloepfer Kendall as Ted Bundy’s ex-girlfriend. The film centers on Elizabeth’s perspective of the famous seriel killer, inspired by her book, The Phantom Prince: My Life With Ted Bundy, published in 1981, years prior to Bundy’s execution on January 24, 1989 for his crimes.
Elizabeth was a 24-year-old single mom when she met Bundy during a night out in Seattle in October 1969. Around the same time his brutal murders of young women began. They stayed together through 1974, the year Bundy continued his murders in Utah. The film begins with introducing Bundy and Elizabeth’s relationship starting from the night they first met, and continues into scenes of archival footage showcasing Bundy’s and Liz’s lives together through the years with her daughter.
The film immediately takes us to the night of 1975 in Utah when Bundy was first arrested and connected to recent murders, followed by a time jump to a year later to the start of Bundy’s trial in Salt Lake, 1976. The film does not stray away from focusing on how appealing Bundy was by many women. We definitely get the feel of how women grew infatuated by his appearance and how others saw him as just a normal handsome guy next door.
Zac Efron turns on the charm for this role but still manages to keep the character normalized with a sense of mystery. Where Efron thrives are in his recreation of highly media publicized scenes of Bundy’s rollercoaster trial. For Lily Collins character, the film centered more on Liz’s depressive state watching Bundy’s trial unravel from her living room television. Through most of the film we see Liz’s denial and hardship coming to terms with all of Bundy’s accusations against him.
I must say if you are expecting to see gory or gain in depth information about Bundy’s crimes than this isn’t that film you’re expecting. This film does not center itself on Bundy’s murders, in fact the only time we hear about the murders are on voiceover b-roll of the news, and when lead Prosecutor Larry (Played by Jim Parsons) dives into detail about the horrific murders of three sorority girls they believe was done at the hands of Bundy. This is honestly the only time we get any amount of detail about his murders throughout the film.
The film is focused on his relationships. We get a feel of his life with Liz and a feel of his relationship with his later wife Carol Anne. Along with how his mindset was during his trial from Liz’s perspective. I personally loved the close-up camera work in the final scene of the film, a final in person conversation between Liz and Bundy. The framework and angles really engaged me into their emotions in that final moment. Efron and Collins really deliver.
Overall, I recommend watching this film after watching Netflix’s, Conversation with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes to have as much information as possible on his cases that you won’t get from this film. If you have never researched prior or seen other documentaries about the famous serial killer than you will likely be disappointed.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is currently streaming on Netflix.