You’ll believe that dishy Zac can get away with murder
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile (15) Verdict: Flawed but fascinating The Curse Of La Llorona (15) Verdict: Fairly efficient chiller
LILY COLLINS has the startling distinction in this week’s releases of playing the girlfriend of both J.R.R. Tolkien (see Tolkien review above) and the U.S. serial killer Ted Bundy.
But the more interesting casting in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, And Vile is that of former High School Musical heartthrob Zac Efron as Bundy himself.
Efron has given copious interviews to explain why he took the role and how he doesn’t think it glamorises its subject, in which respect I think he’s probably right; Bundy still emerges from the film as a twisted, narcissistic psychopath.
But Efron brings the dishy looks and eloquent charm to show how he got away with his crimes for so long (he was executed in 1989, having confessed to killing 30 women, but is thought to have murdered as many as 100), and why he attracted what can only be described as groupies even to his trial. It was there, incidentally, that the judge (played with studied eccentricity by John Malkovich) uttered the words that give this film its singular title.
Mercifully, although made by a documentary-maker, Joe Berlinger, it does not show us in any detail how his behaviour acquired such a description.
Yet by not explaining where the roots of Bundy’s evil lay, it leaves us with only a limited understanding of him.
It purports to tell his story through the eyes of his girlfriend Liz (Collins), whom Bundy manipulated into believing his innocence even after he was in custody, with the evidence piling up around him.
However, the inescapable fact is that she’s not nearly as interesting a character as he is.
The film only really exerts a grip when Efron is on screen, hinting at the terrible depravity that lurks beneath the twinkly charisma.
It’s a moderate feature, but a very good performance.
THERE’S another serial killer at large in The Curse Of La Llorona, but this one hails from the 17th century and only kills children.
The story is rooted in actual Mexican folklore: evidently, a woman in 1673 was so distressed to find her husband having an affair that she punished him by drowning their two offspring.
Then, naturally, she roamed the centuries attracting children with her weeping, and drowned them to replace her own.
All of which brings us to Los Angeles 300 years later, where a social worker called Anna (Linda Cardellini) gets mixed up in the case of a Mexican immigrant whose two sons have been targeted by the dreaded La Llorona, putting Anna’s own two children at appalling risk.
Part of The Conjuring franchise of horror films, this is a pretty standard chiller with the usual repertoire of creaking doors, cracking mirrors, spooky dolls and blasts of wind.
What lifts it above the humdrum is Cardellini, so often cast as a more important character’s spouse — Jeremy Renner’s in Endgame, Viggo Mortensen’s in Green Book — but here showing that she can command the spotlight, too.
Monster: Efron as Bundy