Zac Efron has done pretty well recently when it comes to ditching his teen heartthrob status, proving himself as a reliable comedic actor with the occasional straight dramatic part. But his upcoming role as Ted Bundy might just put that squeaky-clean image to rest for good, as he’s set to bring to life one of the most notorious serial killers in history in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which just had its premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.
As the film’s first trailer showed us, Joe Berlinger’s upcoming biopic is less concerned about the actual murders committed by Bundy and more on his ability to charm and deceive people into thinking he was innocent. Clearly, it was going to take a talented actor to pull off a role such as this but if the first reviews for Extremely Wicked are any indication, then it seems that Efron was definitely up to the task.
Below, you’ll find just a sampling of what critics are saying, with every outlet showering praise on the actor’s performance – even if the film itself didn’t manage to impress everyone.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile begins as a sympathetic perspective of an insider’s look at living with a killer before being taken over by a disarmingly charismatic Zac Efron in a scenery-chewing spectacle. While there are compelling aspects to both sides, the result is a film that wants to have it both ways, ultimately coming up short.
While it doesn’t quite click fully into the gear it’s aiming for, it touches upon some fascinating notions of human nature and boasts a truly impressive performance from Efron.
A mesmerizing tale of a charismatic man and the enchanting nature of his charm despite the monster that lived inside of him. Efron gives a performance that could change the rest of his career and leaves the audience stunned.
The star of the show is unquestionably Efron, who captures the charm and manipulative streak which enabled Bundy to murder over 30 women across seven states over a four year timeframe. It’s a theatrical, absorbing performance which works in part because of Efron’s own cultish celebrity, but also because he manages to convey something dark and sinister lurking beneath the polished surface.
Bundy is played by Zac Efron, and while the actor is a little too good-looking to be playing the character, he nails down the part in an absolutely eerie way. It’s a transformative performance – Efron takes on Bundy’s mannerisms perfectly, to the point where it no longer feels like we’re watching Efron – we’re watching Bundy resurrected from the grave. Efron has been doing good work in so-so films for a while now, but here, he gives the best performance of his career.
Efron is savagely convincing in the most psychologically-layered performance of his career. The actor’s persona as an attractive, clean-cut, straight white man groomed within the Disney machinery — further cemented by turns in bro-friendly comedies — has positioned him as the perfect choice to personify the kind of evil that festers beneath a wholesome façade, neatly packaged for self-preservation.
For those of you that don’t know the particulars of Bundy’s crimes, he’s pretty much the template for the serial killer in popular fiction: a handsome, charming, likeable, intellectual man who ultimately confessed to committing roughly 30 gruesome and violent murders in the mid-70s. His crimes were incredibly vicious, too, and he also managed to escape from custody on several occasions. His story is a fascinating one and though it seems like Berlinger’s latest effort may not totally do it justice, these reviews still paint the picture of a film that’s definitely worth a watch.
In any case, no release date has been set yet for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, but with the movie now picking up some serious buzz out of Sundance, we imagine that’ll change soon.