Ted Bundy Biopic Director Joe Berlinger Addresses Criticism That Zac Efron Movie Makes Serial Killer Sexy

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile director Joe Berlinger is defending his film against accusations that it romanticizes convicted serial killer Ted Bundy.

In a statement to Bustle, Berlinger, who is also the name behind Netflix’s Ted Bundy documentary Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, addressed concerns that the film sexualizes the serial killer.

“I think the idea of this particular story, making a movie about Bundy, equals glorification of him is a very naive and knee-jerk reaction," he told the outlet.

“If you actually watch the movie, the last thing we’re doing is glorifying him,” he added. “He gets his due at the end, but we’re portraying the experience of how one becomes a victim to that kind of psychopathic seduction.”

Controversy surrounding the film was sparked after the first trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile dropped just ahead of its premiere at Sundance Film Festival last month. With Zac Efron in the lead role, and with upbeat, jovial music playing in the background, many on social media accused the film of “romanticizing a monster” and raising Bundy, responsible for the murders of at least 30 women, to heartthrob level.

While Berlinger doesn’t agree with the controversy, he went on to acknowledge that making a film about somebody else’s tragedy does raise a question of morals.

“I am highly aware of the hypocrisy that I myself participate in, about the nature of of true crime filmmaking is that, at the end of the day, we’re making entertainment out of other people’s tragedy," he said.

“Look, there have been a lot of movies about Adolf Hitler and about the Holocaust, but if somebody were to have a new angle as a way of illuminating some aspect of the human condition or aspect of that particular story... I think telling filmmakers any subject matter is off limits is a very slippery slope that leads us to Trump declaring that the media is 'fake news,'" Berlinger continued. “I think there should be no censoring of subject matter, if it’s done responsibly. And even if it’s done irresponsibly, people have the right to tell any story they want to tell."

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Berlinger added that the film, which tells Bundy’s story through the eyes of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, is meant to point out that evil isn’t always easily recognized, and that sometimes the people who commit the most heinous crimes can hide in plain sight. Bundy eluded capture for several years, and even once captured, managed to sway many to believe his innocence.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was recently purchased by streaming giant Netflix, though there is currently no date for when the film will be available for streaming on the service.