Evil and Vile is a story about doubt — first and foremost in Lily Collins' portrayal of Bundy's wife, Liz Kendall — and eventually, even subtly in the eyes of the audiences. Director Joel Berlinger pointedly keeps the violence off screen, which allows the certainty of Bundy's guilt to be chipped away at every time he claims innocence.
The brutality of Bundy's murders is not easy to accept in the abstract, but on a personal level, it's nearly impossible. Once you add in Zac Efron's easy charm and bone structure to the fact that people would rather be duped than accept this level of evil in a loved one, Kendall's doubts start to make sense. To be fair, Efron can do little to make himself unattractive on the outside, but he succeeds in letting the ugliness inside seep out with menacing little ticks and unsettling confidence.
While it's smarter and not nearly as self-indulgent as you might expect, Evil and Vile is not a particularly good film. It's forgettable, oddly paced, and relies too much on cameos (John Malkovich, Haley Joel Osment, Jim Parsons), especially given the talent of its two leads. But it's also restrained in a way that serial-killer dramas never are, and that's at least a good start.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is streaming now on Netflix.