Those “High School Musical” days are long behind us.
Zac Efron is taking on a darker role with far less musical numbers in the upcoming film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” which captures the story of American serial killer Ted Bundy.
Bundy was known for killing 30 women across five different states, and was notorious for being charming and objectively good looking.
Recently, the trailer for “Extremely Wicked” was released and generated an incredible amount of backlash across all forms of social media. People immediately began voicing their opinions.
The movie is arguably made to look less like a chilling thriller and more like a rom-com that stars Efron, a recognized teenage heartthrob. Many believed that Efron’s performance will make Bundy seem too charismatic and already romanticizes him to the verge where people could forget his horrible acts.
The sound editing was one of the most criticized aspects of the trailer. Set to upbeat music, many were worried that this only furthered the supposed nonchalance of the production team.
However, this is the whole point of the movie.
The story is told from the perspective of Elizabeth Kloepfer (Lily Collins), Bundy’s longtime girlfriend. Throughout the murders and trial, she believed that he could do nothing wrong but questioned the legitimacy of his innocence.
By telling the story from Kloepfer’s point of view, this allowed for a less chilling and scary perspective. Most serial killer dramas never depict the story from the view of a loved one, allowing for “Extremely Wicked” to develop a unique plot and tone.
During the trials, Bundy was romanticized by the media, painting him as the perfect boy-next-door. (So any amount of heartthrob portrayal occurred over fifty years ago, let’s not blame Efron.)
In response to the negative feedback, Joe Berlinger, director of “Extremely Wicked,” wanted people to understand “how one becomes a victim to that kind of psychopathic seduction.” He captured and killed as many people as he did because he was so charming.
Efron’s acting comes off as less alluring and more arrogant, especially during the scene in which he is speaking in front of the judge. Any romantic moments he does have with Kloepfer always have some sort of chilling aspect within or following it, from carrying a knife or dragging a body into the woods, there is no way of mistaking the evil surrounding the serial killer.
Kathy Kleiner Rubin, a living victim of Bundy, commented on the trailer, saying she has no “problem with people looking at it as long as they are understanding what they’re watching wasn’t a normal person.”
As a lover of true crime and film, I personally believe that the trailer was done correctly. It allows for reading between the lines and a more dynamic story that we usually wouldn’t see from a classic horror movie.
I can’t wait to see it!