The film, which premiered at Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 26 and stars Efron as convicted serial killer Ted Bundy with the story told from the perspective of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, released its first trailer on Friday. Instead of garnering excitement, it was met with criticism from those who claimed that the jovial music and lighthearted tone raised a notorious serial killer responsible for dozens of death to heartthrob level.
Bundy was convicted of murdering at least 30 women and young girls between 1974 and 1978, crimes that spanned across Washington, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Florida. He was executed by the electric chair in 1989.
"I feel so bad for the families of the victims that have to sit there and see their terrors revived as a witty romantic thriller," one person wrote following the trailer's release.
"i mean it looks good but why the music?" another questioned. "this film is portraying a literal serial killer that existed and did horrible things in real life at least make it seem that way instead of romanticizing a monster."
Others, however, came to the film's defense, claiming that the trailer succeeds in doing exactly what Bundy himself had done: appearing normal and likeable despite being one of the most notorious serial killers in American history.
"I dont understand tweets that claim that Bundy is being 'romanticized' when the point of it is to retell how he was known to be charming," one person wrote. "isnt it more eye opening to show that killers can literally be ANYONE n depicting him as the opposite of likeable just wouldnt be as impactful."
Director Joe Berlinger responded to the backlash by cosigning a Tweet that suggested people were "missing the point" and that the trailer painted Bundy as "the charismatic good guy" because he was "a very charasmastic, nice all American guy who no one suspected."0comments
Despite the backlash, the movie has received largely positive reviews from critics, who claim that the film does not glamorize Bundy or raise him to heartthrob level. Instead, the film depicts the story from "the eyes of a lover," according to Cosmopolitan's Emily Tannenbaum, and "the entire film begs the question: if you were in bed with a monster, would you know it?"
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile does not yet have a wide release date.