By Mwangi Githahu

Films such as Titanic, where everybody knows what happened in the end, the ship sunk, can be tricky for reviewers to write about without giving too much of the rest of the plot away. If you say too much about Jack or Rose you may ruin the film for those who have not seen it.

The same goes for a film about a famous serial killer like Ted Bundy, who was sent to the chair for his crimes in 1989. So instead I’m going to write about the star of the film with the awkward mouthful of a title, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, Zac Efron.

At 31, Efron is already a veteran of 25 feature-length movies and those famous pretty boy looks have won him awards such Best Shirtless performance in 2014’s That Awkward Moment.

He shot to fame in 2006’s High School Musical, which he followed up with two sequels in as many years and while many of his films have been critically average, he has had moments of screen brilliance. These include his role as Link Larkin in 2007s Hairspray for which he was nominated for a number awards, including the one he won, which was the Hollywood Film Awards, “Best Breakthrough Performance.”

Efron is now on screen with his latest, and in my opinion, greatest film role yet, in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, that he also executive produced.

Extremely Wicked etc., is the story of Bundy who committed most of his crimes in the US between 1974 and 1978. Before his execution, he confessed to killing 36 women but is believed to have been responsible for the deaths of over 100 women.

A handsome, articulate and composed former law student, Bundy, who reportedly once described himself as “the very definition of heartless evil” seemed the very opposite of what popular imagination would have you think a serial killer is. The way Efron managed to take over the role so effortlessly, is truly masterful and frightening.

Efron even manages to hold his own in scenes he shares with the great John Malkovich which is no mean achievement by any means as Malkovich can steal a scene just by being in it.

Other faces in the cast include Haley Joel Osment, all grown up but still recognisable behind his beard as the kid who said “I see dead people” in 1999’s The Sixth Sense; Jim Parsons who appears somewhat Sheldonesque in his role as a lawyer.

[Mini spoiler alert] If you are not a fan of guts and gore, you can still watch this film as there are no scenes of gratuitous violence screened. This is definitely a film to see and I won’t be surprised to see it nominated for Best Actor awards through to the Oscars.


Mwangi Githahu has been a journalist since 1989. He is a freelance editor and writer who works for a number of prestigious publications in South Africa and Kenya. He is based in Cape Town.