Years after notorious serial killer Ted Bundy was executed, director Joe Berlinger sparked interest in his story with two back-to-back projects on Netflix. He first developed a documentary based on tapes of Bundy’s confessions in Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Then, he came up with a biopic that starred Zac Efron as the convicted murderer and Lily Collins as his former lover, Elizabeth Kendall.
While the latter wasn’t entirely an adaptation of Kendall’s memoir published in 1981, The Phantom Prince, her involvement in the film was deemed crucial. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was told through the perspective of the killer’s long term girlfriend at the time.
Criticisms were raised after the movie was released claiming that the film glorified Bundy’s horrific crimes as a murderer. But Kendall herself expressed her approval of the film in a reprinted edition of her 1981 memoir. In it, she wrote that working closely with the team behind the film was “was the most empowering way to proceed.”
She then sang praises for the film, particularly it’s lead actors. “It was well-directed and well-acted. We were left with the feeling that Zac Efron and Lily Collins got it right,” Kendall wrote.
According to Berlinger, Kendall and her daughter Molly’s reaction to the film was all the validation he needed amid criticisms.
“Molly had reached out to me to tell me. And then they let me know what their reaction was and obviously, I’m very happy that they were satisfied with the portraits, in part, because there’s been some criticism of the movie.”