Ted Bundy murdered at least 30 women, terrorizing the country and leaving grieving families to struggle with an unimaginable loss, but the latest Ted Bundy biopic starring Zac Efron doesn’t focus on those murders.
Instead, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is told through the point of view of Bundy’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer — played by Lily Collins and known in the movie as Liz Kendall — as she begins to discover that her charmingly handsome boyfriend may be responsible for the dark deeds terrifying young women across the Northwest in the 1970s.
“I think there have been a million serial killer films about how the serial killer kills, a lot of really good ones and a lot of irresponsible ones, but the idea that a serial killer kills and the depravity of violence, you know, I think has been done exceptionally well in the past and is not something I am interested in doing,” director Joe Berlinger told Oxygen.com. “I am interested in the other part of the serial killer’s life, when the serial killer is integrating in society and interacting with people and deceiving and betraying people because that, to me, is scarier that there could be a killer in your midst.”
Most people want to believe people who do bad things look like a “twisted social outcast” or somehow distinguish themselves from the pack so others are able to clearly identify and avoid them, but the reality is often much different.
His charisma allowed him to seamlessly infiltrate nearly any setting, whether it was a college town bar, the Mormon church, or even the Republican Party, where he once worked on the campaign of then-Washington governor Daniel J. Evans.
“Bundy teaches us the exact opposite, that’s the enduring lesson of Bundy that can’t be overstated, particularly for a new generation,” Berlinger explained.
Berlinger decided to take the fresh approach to the story after talking with his college-age daughters and realizing they didn’t know who Ted Bundy was.
“The idea of using the Bundy story from this different point of view is a way of telling a cautionary tale for a new generation, that you need to really understand who you are getting into bed with, metaphorically or literally,” he said. “I think that’s the lesson I want my daughters to have.”
Berlinger hopes to take viewers on the same path Kloepfer took herself as the devastating realization that the man she had been dating since 1969 — and had planned to marry — was actually a cold-blooded killer.
“I want the audience to be with Liz emotionally,” he said.
While some people have criticized the movie for not focusing more on the women Bundy killed, Berlinger said he believes this approach is actually more respectful to those who died.
"We certainly talk about the horrors that took place, that happened to these victims, it’s not like we’re pretending these crimes didn’t happen but we’re not showing the moment of killing and I think showing the moment of killing is actually far more disrespectful to the victims, you know, showing their worst moment, the moment of their expiration,” he said. “We are trying to portray the understanding of how you become a victim to these types of crimes.”
"Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile" begins streaming on Netflix Friday, May 3.
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