The long-awaited new Ted Bundy movie, "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," has struck controversy since its original announcement. It finally made its Netflix debut on May 1st and I had the chance to watch it. Many people argued that the film, starring Zac Efron, was inappropriate in the sense that it glorified Bundy, a malicious serial killer of at least 30 known women, but after watching the film for myself, I don't share this opinion.
Crime shows and serial killer documentaries have always struck my interest, so I already had background knowledge about the Ted Bundy trials before watching the movie. While there were definitely cinematic elements to the movie, including the fact that it was told in the perspective of Bundy's ex-girlfriend, I found that many elements of the movie aligned with that of the actual trials and demeanor of Bundy himself.
Using an attractive actor such as Efron was not meant to glorify Bundy's killings, but displayed him as he truly was, a cunning, attractive man who was able to easily manipulate and lure in his victims, and had everyone around him fooled, if not entranced. If anything, it shows how many people, particularly young women, viewed him, especially since the movie left out any gruesome murder scenes until the end. Throughout the movie, even though I knew that he was guilty of the crimes, I could see why people took his side because he seemed to be so normal and sociable, which isn't what comes to mind when thinking of a stereotypical serial killer.
Another thing that critics may not realize is that the director of "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" also directed Netflix's "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes," which showcased actual interviews with Bundy and his life in length, including each of his killings and the trial. This correlation shows that the director had an intricate understanding of how to depict Bundy in the most accurate way possible. I think that this movie was able to appeal to a younger audience by using Efron as the lead actor and making it into a movie, which is more likely to be watched than a documentary covering a topic that a younger audience may not be familiar with.
Ultimately, I think that the movie served its purpose as entertainment, but more importantly was able to present an important message that no one should ever forget that no matter how normal someone appears, precautions should always be taken and trust is something that should not be easily given. As director Joe Berlinger stated in an interview with "The Guardian," "Evil is not some two-dimensional monster out there — evil is three-dimensional people who are part of our society."