Wow, has Netflix botched this one.
The film is supposed to tell Ted’s story from his former girlfriend Liz Kendall’s perspective (it’s based on her memoir The Phantom Prince: My Life with Ted Bundy).
And yet, once Ted goes to jail, they quickly fade out Liz’s storyline, only giving us brief glances of her crying while watching Ted on television every so often. The movie quickly forgets about Liz, making her an after-thought, at best.
Instead, the movie follows Ted through his many criminal trials. Yet, somehow, Extremely Wicked glosses over Ted’s crimes altogether, barely giving us an idea of how truly horrific his murders were. The worst things they (briefly) mention are a bite mark Ted took out of one of his victim’s butts and the time he used a hairspray bottle to violate another victim.
But all of this comes and goes so quickly that you can barely process the information.
If you didn’t know any better, Ted Bundy would seem like your run-of-the-mill serial killer instead of the deeply disturbed sociopath who violently decapitated many of his victims, keeping their heads as souvenirs; who continued to have sex with his victims’ corpses until they decomposed; who took pride in his crimes. And yet, none of that is mentioned in the film.
Watching the movie, it’s abundantly clear that they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Extremely Wicked is supposed to take place over the course of several years and yet they zoom through the events so quickly that you’d think everything happened in a matter of months.
They attempt to cover so much ground that the entire film seems like a blur, barely making any sort of impact or impression on the viewer. It’s as if you’re watching Ted Bundy’s life on fast-forward.
In anticipation of the film, there was a significant concern that Extremely Wicked would glamorize Ted Bundy. Spoiler: It doesn’t. But not for lack of trying.
Extremely Wicked is determined to show Ted from Liz’s perspective, which means playing up his charm. But even when Liz isn’t involved, Ted’s evil is largely ignored. When he’s not busy jumping out of windows, he’s chatting up the media and wooing his new lady.
Of course, the intention here is to show the viewers what Liz, and the rest of the nation, is seeing on TV. It’s supposed to take you on a journey as you see this suave, seemingly normal man turn into a sick criminal.
But alas, that doesn’t happen. Instead, Ted is presented as extremely one-note, leading the viewer to believe he’s the vanilla, boy-next-door guy that he presents to the press.
In the end, all of these scenes amount to a whole lot of nothing, since every moment is so brief that you can barely sink your teeth into it.
If they were smart, and they truly wanted to stick with the plan to show Liz’s perspective, they would have shown a decline in Ted’s charm as you slowly saw what this man was truly capable of.
Instead, you go from a suave and romantic Ted Bundy to a killer within the last thirty seconds of the movie, when Ted finally confesses to decapitating one of his victims. The whole final scene is disorienting and makes little sense within the context of the movie.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile took a big chance by choosing to take on such a horrific, complicated killer. But ultimately, they failed miserably.
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Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel and when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her obsessing over her tuxedo cat Tom or hoarding drugstore lipsticks.