From the surface, Disney heart-throb Zac Efron seems a rather random and somewhat unsuitable choice for the role of one of America’s most violent serial killers. Having confessed to over 30 homicides and countless assaults against women in the 1970s, Ted Bundy is unquestionably one of America’s most dangerous criminals and so Efron just seems too much of a Hollywood-esque actor for this huge role. Yet in reality it’s exactly Efron’s charm that makes him the most fitting man for the part, as it was Ted Bundy’s unnervingly handsome looks that made him so deadly.
Amidst hype surrounding the premiere of the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile at the Sundance Film Festival on the weekend and after the release of Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix, there has been a firestorm of both positive and negative reviews – with the sentiments of a Bundy survivor being the most profound of them all.
Efron’s betrayal of the killer was praised by critics on the basis of his appearance alone, some mentioning it was his wink that sealed the deal. Others applauded Efron for his high-calibre acting, stating he is ‘savagely convincing’ in what is by far his most ‘psychologically layered performance’ to date.
Zac Efron as Ted Bundy is kinda perfect casting cause you can’t believe that he could possibly play a terrifying serial killer in the same way that you couldn’t have looked at Ted Bundy and believed that he *was* a terrifying serial killer. https://t.co/kew3IpkvVf
— John Squires (@FreddyInSpace) January 25, 2019
Nooo. Ted Bundy was seen as attractive, charismatic, and smart. Many people were fooled by the persona he displayed, which made him the perfect serial killer. They cleverly casted Zac Efron to show how charming, inviting, and manipulative Bundy was, not to normalize what he did. https://t.co/lNBhDqwwp8
— Mary Margaret Snipes (@marysnipes11) January 27, 2019
A common theme across most of the critiques was that Efron romanticised Bundy more than his persona deserved. Some blew up over the fact that Efron’s career, fuelled very much by his looks and allure, rendered him incapable of playing the intense, narcissistic and multifaceted character Bundy really was.
y’all really about to glorify and sexualize a serial murderer, rapist, and necrophiliac just cause zac efron is playing ted bundy and turn this into high school musical 2019 pic.twitter.com/dAT2riJLw5
— bde (@wontreehiII) January 26, 2019
Although despite all the positive and negative buzz, we cannot help but think that this particular appraisal of the film bares more weight than those of all the fan-girls and theatre critics combined. Kathy Kleiner Rubin and her roomie were in their second-floor dorm room at the Florida State University on January 15, 1978. Bundy brutally assaulted Kathy and her friend simultaneously, yet due to the miraculous timing of a car flooding the dorm with light, Bundy fled the scene and the girls were spared of what was sure to be a fatal attack (another one to add to Bundy’s sickening list).
You’d assume a survivor of Bundy’s brutality would be outraged at the wave of fan girls that have become smitten with Efron, melting over his charm and good looks. This isn’t the typical reaction to a serial killer, of course.
Yet Kathy has spoken to TMZ about Efron’s performance in the film and agrees that it indeed glorifies Bundy more than he deserves, but this is the essence of why he successfully dodged the blame for all his crimes for so many years.
“I think everyone should see it and understand him as he was, even when he was the perfect son.”
“I believe that in order to show him exactly the way he was it’s not really glorifying him but it’s showing him…and when they do say positive and wonderful things about him that’s what they saw. That’s who Bundy wanted them to see.”
“It’s the fortieth year since the attack and thirtieth year since the execution. I don’t have a problem with people looking at it,” Rubin says.
“As long as they understand that what they’re watching wasn’t a normal person.”
Rubin adds yet another layer to the intense story of Bundy and the now controversial betrayal of his criminal self on the big screen. Although what makes this layer of the story more profound is that it’s coming from the sentiments of a victim who found herself at the hands of this brutal killer.
Image Source: Casey Wolfgang Twitter, John Squires Twitter, Mary Margaret Snipes Twitter, BDE Twitter, Rotten Tomatoes Facebook, TMZ Youtube