For his fast-paced biopic of infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, director Joe Berlinger (Paradise Lost, Whitey) turns his magnifying glass to the real-life story of Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins), a woman who’s struggling with her suspicions about her boyfriend Ted (Zac Efron). Sure, she found a meat cleaver in his trunk, but look at those abs! Though Bundy was known for using his good looks and charm to lure in his victims, the trailer paints him as a rock god with a chiseled physique and charisma for days. That might make you squeamish — after all, he murdered at least 30 people, by his own tally.
The true-crime obsessed director was working on a four-part Netflix documentary series, Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes , when the script for Extremely Wicked fell in his lap, which he says helped inform the feature. “It was a great resource for the production designers, the EPs, the art director, even the screenwriter. We changed the script during pre-production,” he told Rolling Stone. “Being able to call upon my doc team for confirmation of factual information, and being able to look at archival footage to help inform production design, was a great [help] for the feature film. People will see that in the feature, even though it’s got some style, it feels very authentic and real.”
Berlinger’s inspired-by-true-events portrait of the killer is apparently more focused on the longterm couple’s bond than Bundy’s bloodletting. The film — which also includes John Malkovich as the presiding judge and Metallica’s James Hetfield as a local cop — is sure to spawn a whole new generation of fans confused by the swoon-worthy charm of a winking Bundy embodied by a Hollywood heartthrob.
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