‘Extremely Wicked’ Criticized for Efron Casting, Sexualization of Bundy

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In early January a trailer for the new movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring the handsome Zac Efron, was released. This new Ted Bundy biopic had many young girls excited to see a different side to Efron’s acting abilities. There is no set release date for the film but it is already generating a lot of buzz thanks to Efron releasing insider photos.

Extremely Wicked premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, and was later bought by Netflix for a reported $9 million dollars. This acquisition makes sense for Netflix, since Netflix owns the Ted Bundy Tapes. Extremely Wicked’s filmmaker, Joe Berlinger, is best known for his work in the documentary realm. 

The popularity of Ted Bundy has risen this year and it was not a shock when director Joe Berlinger announced he wanted to make a movie about Bundy. Berlinger felt that Zac Efron was perfect to play Bundy, since Bundy is notoriously mythologized as handsome and charismatic. While Efron is no stranger to the movie industry, playing a serial killer is a far cry from his High School Musical days and usual boyish acting roles. It appears as though Efron took this as a chance to branch away from his Disney past. Efron had to visit jails and speak to those who knew Bundy to prepare for the role.

Despite no announced release date, Efron fans are itching to see when this film will come out. It has come as a disappointment to many that Netflix decided to buy the film, especially those hoping to see Efron on the big screen. Although there is no evidence that this will not be a theatrical release.

Lily Collins is starring in the role of Bundy’s girlfriend, Elizabeth Kleopfer. Kleopfer was as clueless as the rest of the world to her boyfriend’s murderous ways.

The plot of film consists of Bundy and Kleopfer meeting and then soon after falling in love and having a baby girl. In the trailer, Efron plays Bundy as well as can be. The dramatic scenes and cliffhangers hook viewers instantly. Some viewers were critical of the newly released trailer, disappointed with the music playing in the background.

It feels very disrespectful to use the upbeat action music, it makes him seem like some kind of anti-hero or something.”

— @EllieJayden

“It feels very disrespectful to use the upbeat action music, it makes him seem like some kind of anti-hero or something,” tweeted Shona Ellen, in response to a Fandango tweet of the trailer. “It feels very incentive and makes the movie look like some fun blockbuster rather than a serious depiction of a sociopathic killer.”

The fact that Zac Efron, a handsome actor, is playing a deceased serial killer annoyed a couple stars who were disgusted by Bundy’s past. Some complaints identified that Efron was sexualizing the serial killer, thereby romanticizing Bundy himself.

The wink is extremely disturbing and the romanticization of a serial killer is exactly why these sick [expletive] continue to do things like this to women.”

— @LaurenJauregui

“The wink is extremely disturbing and the romanticization of a serial killer is exactly why these sick [expletive] continue to do things like this to women,” tweeted ex-Fifth Harmony member, Lauren Jauregui. “Notoriety. This is apalling.”

Obviously the fact that Efron was cast angered some who feel like women need to be treated better and with more respect.

While there is clearly controversy surrounding Extremely Wicked, both Collins and Efron are determined to not let this affect them. Many fans feel the same way and have set their expectations high for the popular movie.

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