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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Reviews    Movie, Television and DVD Reviews  ›  Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019) Moderators: Nixon
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  Author    Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile (2019)  (currently 236 views)
James McClung
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 7:53pm Report to Moderator
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Decided to check this out after watching the director's Ted Bundy documentary series on Netflix. Also heard Zack Efron would be playing Bundy back when it was first announced. Thought it might be an interesting stretch for him.

Not impressed. The filmmaking is generic and somewhat randomly slapped together. Very slow, redundant, and tonally inconsistent. In particular, lots of famous oldies tracks that make for some awkward, almost campy, and often inappropriate tonal shifts. And of course, lots of odd, incredibly distracting "cameos" that seem totally arbitrary and take you right of the movie. What an odd problem for a movie to have. One cameo in particular comes at a very pivotal moment and involves a non-actor who appears out of nowhere and nearly mugs the camera; certainly one of the more bizarre WTF moments I've experienced in a film.

Efron is okay, objectively, but I didn't particularly care for his performance, personally. It seems a little too even and not threatening, disturbing, or even suggestive in someway. He and the filmmakers really try to play up the fact that Bundy could be (deceptively, of course) charming, articulate, and affable (Efron caught some, IMO, erroneous flack for supposedly humanizing Bundy in this way; I honestly don't know who comes away from something like this thinking Bundy was some misunderstood guy or whatever). Watching the old clips of the real-life Bundy in the documentary series reflects he did indeed possess some of these qualities, but the dude was also smarmy, obnoxious, erratic, and insanely aggressive... not to mention stupid; he ultimately has himself to thank for getting the death penalty. Not a lot of range in Efron's performance; I think the full spectrum of Bundy's demeanor and behavior would've been essential here.

The film is based in part by a book by Bundy's ex-girlfriend who struggled to come to terms with his crimes and how to take stock of the moments in her life where there seemed to be another, perhaps repressed/clandestine side to him. This is admittedly an interesting angle and preferable to a straightforward documenting of Bundy's murders, which I actually think would've been exploitative and in bad taste. There's also a pretty substantial focus on the media circus and weird cult-of-personality phenomenon that emerged from the Bundy trials. However, the film doesn't seem to have a conscious and/or well-defined exploratory thread as far as theme goes. I don't know that one would have to be inherently moralistic or condemning or even a definitive message, but some angle, certainly. Instead, the movie has that Oliver Stone feel where the film just goes through the motions and ultimately exists solely to document... just because the director can.

Not a bad film necessarily but bland and forgettable. I don't recommend.


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Warren
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 8:05pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from James McClung


Decided to check this out after watching the director's Ted Bundy documentary series on Netflix. Also heard Zack Efron would be playing Bundy back when it was first announced. Thought it might be an interesting stretch for him.

Not impressed. The filmmaking is generic and somewhat randomly slapped together. Very slow, redundant, and tonally inconsistent. In particular, lots of famous oldies tracks that make for some awkward, almost campy, and often inappropriate tonal shifts. And of course, lots of odd, incredibly distracting "cameos" that seem totally arbitrary and take you right of the movie. What an odd problem for a movie to have. One cameo in particular comes at a very pivotal moment and involves a non-actor who appears out of nowhere and nearly mugs the camera; certainly one of the more bizarre WTF moments I've experienced in a film.

Efron is okay, objectively, but I didn't particularly care for his performance, personally. It seems a little too even and not threatening, disturbing, or even suggestive in someway. He and the filmmakers really try to play up the fact that Bundy could be (deceptively, of course) charming, articulate, and affable (Efron caught some, IMO, erroneous flack for supposedly humanizing Bundy in this way; I honestly don't know who comes away from something like this thinking Bundy was some misunderstood guy or whatever). Watching the old clips of the real-life Bundy in the documentary series reflects he did indeed possess some of these qualities, but the dude was also smarmy, obnoxious, erratic, and insanely aggressive... not to mention stupid; he ultimately has himself to thank for getting the death penalty. Not a lot of range in Efron's performance; I think the full spectrum of Bundy's demeanor and behavior would've been essential here.

The film is based in part by a book by Bundy's ex-girlfriend who struggled to come to terms with his crimes and how to take stock of the moments in her life where there seemed to be another, perhaps repressed/clandestine side to him. This is admittedly an interesting angle and preferable to a straightforward documenting of Bundy's murders, which I actually think would've been exploitative and in bad taste. There's also a pretty substantial focus on the media circus and weird cult-of-personality phenomenon that emerged from the Bundy trials. However, the film doesn't seem to have a conscious and/or well-defined exploratory thread as far as theme goes. I don't know that one would have to be inherently moralistic or condemning or even a definitive message, but some angle, certainly. Instead, the movie has that Oliver Stone feel where the film just goes through the motions and ultimately exists solely to document... just because the director can.

Not a bad film necessarily but bland and forgettable. I don't recommend.


We must have very different taste in films. I loved it, and thought the performances were strong all around. I think the angle they came at the story from was well handled as well.

Itís a highly recommend from me.


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James McClung
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 9:25pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Warren
We must have very different taste in films.


We definitely do. I've noticed your comments in other review threads. That includes my review for Us. Admittedly, I have soured on that one since.

That's fine, of course. My primary goals with these reviews are to keep myself writing and hopefully inspire a conversation. With that in mind, I appreciate you weighing in.

This one didn't make an impression on me for whatever reason. In hindsight, I do think Efron deserves some credit. My reception might have something to do with expectations as well as having just watched the Bundy docuseries. I would've liked to have seen more range personally, but it's a fine performance, as were the others more or less. I stand by the rest though. But I'm glad you enjoyed it.


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AlsoBen
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 10:19pm Report to Moderator
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I found the whole thing quite odd. For two reasons -

1. There is a big deal (not just in this film, but in pop culture) of Bundy being an attractive guy. I've seen photos and videos and (maybe taking into account some bias of having known what he's done) he's never seemed attractive to me. He was definitely charismatic, but that's different from being handsome. Zac Efron does his best but we literally all now that Bundy used his charisma and sociopath charm to engage these women; being as attractive as Efron just seems like a "cheat" rather than finding a normal-looking actor who is actually able to display the chilling way Bundy manipulated people.

2. The movie focuses so much on Ted's trial, escapes, and fate which are all things we already know. I found the thread of plot about the impact on Ted's first girlfriend so much more interesting and it's left mostly unexplored until the end. The final scene in the meeting between Ted's ex and him in prison was so powerful but it didn't fit the focus of the rest of the movie.


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ReneC
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 10:47pm Report to Moderator
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I wrote coverage for the script years ago when it was a Blacklist script. I found the script to be really well written, but it made Bundy way too sympathetic. It went into his crimes from his point of view before going through all the trial stuff and how clever he thought he was being. The girlfriend was a secondary character and had little substance.

It was unmarketable. Nobody wants to see that. I'm glad they shifted away from that, or at least seem to have. I haven't watched it yet (I still don't know if I want to), so if I'm wrong please tell me.


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AlsoBen
Posted: May 6th, 2019, 10:58pm Report to Moderator
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Rene, IMO unfortunately the girlfriend character is still woefully undeveloped. Again, it would be amazing to see what kind of impact having been in a relationship with a serial killer would have on a person, but the movie never develops her response more than just being "sad".


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AnthonyCawood
Posted: May 8th, 2019, 10:05am Report to Moderator
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I thought this was a pretty unique take on the events and shifting the focus to the relationships he had (the ones not involving killing people) was certainly a bold move and I think worked in the main.

I thought Efron was convincing, he's come a long way since high School Musical, and once again proves he can actually act in the right project.

My understanding is that this was based on the girlfriend's memoirs and is pretty faithful to her version of events.

My wife however hated it, she's a true crime buff and didn't like the way it humanised Bundy and skipped over the majority of his crimes.

Can't please everyone all the time!


Anthony Cawood - Award winning screenwriter
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Penoyer79
Posted: May 8th, 2019, 6:43pm Report to Moderator
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I almost fell out of my chair when I realized the cop was James Hetfield.
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James McClung
Posted: May 8th, 2019, 7:00pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Penoyer79
I almost fell out of my chair when I realized the cop was James Hetfield.



Quoted from James McClung
...certainly one of the more bizarre WTF moments I've experienced in a film.


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Demento
Posted: May 22nd, 2019, 10:12am Report to Moderator
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I didn't like it. Seemed like it had major structural problems. Which is often the case with biopics.  There is an interesting film in the Bundy story, it's just not this one.


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Dreamscale
Posted: May 22nd, 2019, 11:01am Report to Moderator
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I didn't love it, didn't hate it either.

I think it definitely made Bundy out to be a much better person than he obviously was.

It did hold my attention, though.


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Angry Bear
Posted: May 22nd, 2019, 11:10am Report to Moderator
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I didn't really care for it. It wasn't horrible, but nothing in it stayed with me. In fact, until I saw this thread today again, I had forgot all about this film.  


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