For a movie with a purely descriptive title, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile doesn’t seem particularly offensive. Zac Efron stars as the serial killer and rapist Ted Bundy in Joe Berlinger’s movie, and the official teaser (which might as well be a trailer; it’s one and a half minutes long) makes it look like part-romcom and part-slick, feel-good movie about a seedy underdog.
Bundy was executed in prison by electrical chair in 1989. He murdered at least 30 people in the 1970s, and most of his victims were young women. And yet, in this movie, Bundy, in the hands of Efron and Berlinger, seems vaguely likable. As he defends himself in the criminal justice, it feels like you’re almost supposed to root for him: just one crazy, handsome guy up against the system. There’s the hint of a will-they-won’t-they subplot between Bundy and his wife (played by Lily Collins), the deciding factor being, oh, whether he’s capable of kidnapping and assaulting innocent women. No biggie! When a serial killer is played by an actor who made a career off being a teen heartthrob, does it really matter what he did?