He had a tremendous effect on the lives of these women’s families and friends. While the film’s title reminds the viewer of his evil actions, the trailer does not have the same effect. The trailer spends far too much time focusing on Bundy’s charm and personal relationships rather than illuminating his violent murders.
While some people find the casting of Zac Efron to be problematic, I find this choice appropriate. Casting Efron as Ted Bundy makes sense; he is charismatic and charming, just how Bundy was known.
If done correctly, the film will make the viewers see how serial killers can blend into society just like anyone else. Part of what made Bundy so terrifying was that people were in disbelief that someone so attractive and well-spoken could commit these atrocities.
It is important to remember that, although serial killers are wicked, evil and vile, they can also appear to be surprisingly normal.
While Efron may be a fitting choice for the role, the trailer horribly romanticizes Bundy by focusing on his relationships with his family and on his charm.
Watching the trailer, I felt as though I was watching a preview for an action movie, not for a movie based on a real serial killer who brutally killed dozens of women and destroyed the lives of many more people.
The trailer opens up with Efron as Ted Bundy, meeting his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer, played by Lily Collins. For the first 20 seconds of the trailer, they focus on the attraction Kloepfer feels toward Bundy.
Charm is important to Bundy’s character, since he was genuinely an attractive and charismatic man, but it should not be the first thing the viewer sees about him.
It is unclear what events the film will include, but it is likely, based on the trailer, that it will give an overwhelming amount of screen time to Bundy’s charm rather than his brutal killings. If this is true, this is a huge disservice to all of his victims.
The trailer should have focused on the fact that he hurt dozens of women, not on how he employed his charisma. He often pretended to need help with a task, making his targets extremely vulnerable. This was evident when he asked Janice Ann Ott for help with his boat. Bundy then kidnapped her and another woman, Denise Naslund, forcing one to watch as he murdered the other. This psychotic behavior was not anywhere to be seen in the new trailer, and the disturbingly upbeat music playing in the background offered no hint of someone who committed horrible atrocities.
Viewers with a limited knowledge of Bundy likely would be confused about the nature of his crimes. The trailer focuses on scenes of Efron smiling, running and kissing women, while there is nothing that shows Bundy’s character actually committing atrocities.
It focuses on Bundy’s relationships with his girlfriend and her child rather than on his killings. The only trace of his violent behavior is an extremely brief scene toward the end of the trailer in which he is seen dragging a female body, but no real violence is ever displayed throughout the entire trailer.
The film could handle it differently, but if the film reflects the trailer, it will be problematic for those reasons.
A typical defense of the trailer’s interpretation is that Bundy’s portrayal in the public was skewed positively during the time of his trial. The problem with what has been revealed for the film, though, is that the trailer focuses so heavily on Bundy’s charm and relationships that his inhumane, disgusting actions are not focused on in the trailer.
Regardless of whether people believed it at the time, he killed real women with real lives. This is all the more reason to emphasize Bundy as the monster he really was, rather than place so much emphasis on his supposedly stellar personality.
Hollywood should not perpetuate this fascination with serial killers, especially ones who were considered attractive. This is just another example of how Americans are so fixated on murderers and criminals, rather than learning about the stories of victims.
By continuing to put Ted Bundy in the spotlight instead of his victims, it gives him the satisfaction of fame and turns him into a household name. It is unacceptable to continue to focus on Bundy and other criminals, giving them the attention they desire. Instead of focusing on murderers, Hollywood should focus on the dozens of lives that Bundy ruined with his despicable actions.
Jillian Kenny, FCRH ’21, is an international studies and environmental studies major from Bridgewater, New Jersey.
Tags: and Vile, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, Ted Bundy, Zac Efron
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