The True Crime Thriller On Netflix With A Controversial Star

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Zac Efron in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

With the spooky season around the corner, you’re probably on the lookout for something to watch that offers the perfect amount of thrills and chills. Instead of checking out the adventures of Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, we recommend you instead check out the Ted Bundy true crime thriller Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The choice to cast Zac Efron as Ted Bundy generated quite a stir, but we’re here to tell you that this is a captivating film that might contain the best performance of Efron’s entire Hollywood career.

Zac Efron is incredibly disturbing as serial killer Ted Bundy in Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.

Why, though, was there such a controversy over Zac Efron getting cast as Ted Bundy? Interestingly enough, the controversy stems from the fact that many audiences considered Efron too hot (distractingly hot, even) for the role. When fans online (some ironic, some dead serious) began making endlessly thirsty posts about Zac Efron’s hot bod, it led horrified critics to conclude that this true crime film was actually glorifying Ted Bundy rather than criticizing him.

This is a rather bizarre criticism of the decision to cast Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, one of history’s most frightening serial killers. The real-life Bundy was a good-looking man, and it’s a well-known fact that he leveraged his good looks and unthreatening demeanor to target victims who didn’t realize he was a threat (at least, until it was too late). In other words, if the producers had gone out of their way to cast someone who was as ugly on the outside as Bundy was on the outside, it wouldn’t have been true to the real-life history of the infamous murderer.

Zac Efron and Lily Collins in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile

While the drama surrounding casting Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is pretty entertaining on its own, you should know more about what Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is about before you decide whether or not to stream the film. You’ll be pleased to know that the movie is relatively accurate to Bundy’s life and his crimes, and there’s a good reason for that. Specifically, the movie is based on the book The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy by his ex-girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall, and it has plenty of insight into the life and crimes of Bundy courtesy of someone who understood him better than most.

The controversy that Zac Efron’s attractiveness is glorifying the killer overlooks that Ted Bundy was a handsome man that used his looks to lure in victims.

And if Zac Efron’s casting as Ted Bundy (inspired casting, if we are being honest) isn’t enough inducement to watch the film, you should know that he is joined by some other big names. This includes Haley Joel Osment (still best known for his performance in The Sixth Sense alongside Bruce Willis) and Jim Parsons (who plays a prosecuting attorney completely unlike Parson’s famous Big Bang Theory character). Speaking of people cast against type, the movie also stars Lily Collins, whose “stand by your man” Bundy girlfriend in this character is the polar opposite of her Emily in Paris role.

zac efron
Extremely Vile, Shockingly Evil and Vile

Additionally, John Malkovich plays a judge who is responsible for sentencing Zac Efron’s Ted Bundy to his final fate. When it came to judging Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile as a film, though, critics had a harder time playing judge. You can see this for yourself if you check out the dueling opinions surrounding this film on its Rotten Tomatoes page.

Unable to escape controversy, some people complained that Zac Efron didn’t go far enough, while others think it went too far, proving again, that it’s impossible to please everyone.

On Rotten Tomatoes, the movie has a critical rating of 55 percent, but that doesn’t actually tell the full story. If you look into what critics are saying about the movie, they are divided: some feel the movie went too far in supposedly glorifying Bundy while others were annoyed it didn’t go far enough to demonstrate his evil. And even those who hated the film had to reluctantly admit that Zac Efron’s performance as Ted Bundy is more captivating than anyone could have ever predicted.

Ultimately, we think you should check out Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile on Netflix at the earliest opportunity in order to judge for yourself and to get a rare glimpse of a true crime film that could double as a documentary (director Joe Berlinger is, first and foremost, a documentarian). The movie is compelling, the subject matter is fascinating, and Zac Efron embodies Ted Turner in a way that makes our skin crawl. Don’t worry, though: if you want to break the tension by screaming “Bazinga!” whenever Jim Parsons is on screen, we won’t hold it against you.