The first trailer for the upcoming film on American serial killer Ted Bundy has set off a fierce debate, with people worried that the film glorifies his deadly legacy and could hurt those impacted by his crimes.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this weekend, and stars Zac Efron as the charismatic killer. Authorities believe Bundy murdered 30 women or more before he was executed at Florida State Prison in 1989.
Speaking about his performance, Efron told Variety that he initially had reservations about taking the role.
“I’ve seen people make horror films like this before, and it seems like an aggressive play to separate yourself from a perceived image. And it’s got a lot of killing and hacking and slashing. I think I’ve seen that before too many times,” he said.
The 31-year-old stars opposite Lily Collins, who plays Elizabeth Kloepfer, Bundy's ex-girlfriend. The film tells Bundy's story from Kloepfer's perspective.
The film is directed by Academy Award nominee Joe Berlinger, who also directed the four-part Netflix documentary Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.
The release of both projects coincides with the 30th anniversary of Bundy's execution.
After the trailer dropped on Friday, people said they were concerned for the families of victims, and criticized the overall tone.
Some people have accused the film for romanticizing Bundy.
Others defended the trailer by arguing that it was created in particular way to make a point.
The film's director, Berlinger, appeared to weigh in on the debate on Twitter by cosigning another tweet that suggested people were "missing the point." To which he responded: "Exactly!"
As the cast wrapped filming in March last year, Efron told IndieWire that the film did not glorify Bundy.
“It’s very interesting. I think the movie itself is really deep,” Efron said. “It doesn’t really glorify Ted Bundy. He wasn’t a person to be glorified. It simply tells a story and sort of how the world was able to be charmed over by this guy who was notoriously evil and the vexing position that so many people were put in, the world was put in. It was fun to go and experiment in that realm of reality.”
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile has no confirmed release date and is currently seeking US distribution.