In the trailer for a film biopic about serial killer Ted Bundy, one would think that any potential audience backlash might stem from the depictions of Bundy’s vicious murders. The man did, after all, confess to more than 30 homicides before his death. However, in the case of Netflix’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as Bundy, outrage after the first trailer’s release came not as a result of the killings themselves, but due to the streamer’s choice to depict Bundy as some kind of lovable scamp.
No really: Go back and watch that first trailer, and be amazed at the way Bundy comes off as some sort of Han Solo archetype—the cool, misunderstood rogue. Hell, the trailer even implies that he’s a good surrogate father at one point! It’s not surprising that a certain corner of the internet found itself up in arms.
And judging from the second trailer released today, it would seem that Netflix must have been listening. Gone is any sense of Bundy as a fun, free-spirited personality. Gone is the majority of the fetishization of Bundy as the rare, “handsome” serial killer. Certainly gone is the insinuation that young kids just loved them some Uncle Ted Bundy. It’s all been replaced with a much colder, more detached, more brutal tone that emphasizes just how much savage violence there is in this story. We get a closer look at the tools Bundy used to dismantle young women, and the framing from the perspective of Bundy’s girlfriend Elizabeth Kloepfer, played by Lily Collins, adds a sense of guilt and pathos. Finally, the film looks like the drama it was probably meant to all along.
Check out the trailer below for a surprise dose of John Malkovich and Jim Parsons as well. Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile hits Netflix streaming on May 3, 2019.