Updated: Jun 3, 2020
Casting Zac Efron as Ted Bundy romanticizes the horrific acts caused by the serial killer.
By Meg Taylor, News Editor
America’s most notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy, is next on the long list of criminals to have a TV series or movie dedicated to unraveling their horrifying crimes.
“Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” starring Zac Efron as Bundy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received mixed reactions. Many people were excited to see Hollywood heartthrob Efron in a role he is not typically cast in. However, many feel that having the handsome actor portray Bundy is glorifying the monstrous acts he committed in the 70’s.
It makes sense to cast someone that a good amount of women would find to be attractive because Bundy’s charm and seduction was used as a tool to lure women. However, the trailer alone shows way too many instances of Efron’s wide smiles, devilish winks and his notorious shirtless shots. This is a film about a killer, not a male model.
Netflix took to Twitter last week to address the negative backlash they are receiving. “I've seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers.”
The streaming site missed the point that Bundy is an average looking man at best in comparison to Efron, who was featured in Sexiest Man Alive 2017. Although Efron has proven time and again that he has the talent to take on a role such as Bundy, his presence in this film takes away from the message that Bundy was a sociopath, kidnapper, rapist, burglar and necrophile who assaulted and murdered numerous young women.
Along with the debatable choice of casting Efron, the film is told from the perspective of Bundy’s longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer. Telling the story from the point of view of a woman who was blindly in love with Bundy is questionable.
Portrayed by Lily Collins, she describes Bundy with such admiration: “When I feel his love, I feel like I’m on top of the world.” Yes, it provides us with an insight of how Bundy made women feel, but it also makes light of the very tragic events that happened.
Family and friends of Bundy’s victims are not thrilled with the murders of their loved ones being put in the spotlight yet again. Although roughly 40 years have passed since Bundy’s crime spree, it is not something anyone wants to revisit.
“Why keep rubbing our face in it all the time? It’s very hard to deal with and when they keep bringing it up and putting it up,” said Belva Kent, the mother of 17-year-old victim Debra Jean Kent in an interview with PEOPLE. “It’s very disgusting to me.”
An alternative or addition to these real crime films should be a documentary focusing on the victims. This option allows for the story of Bundy to be told, but will also remind viewers that they are watching a film tackling real life events. Focusing on all of the victims, each of which had friends, families, and bright futures ahead of them, reduces the possibility of glorifying Bundy instead of depicting him as the monster that he is.