Forget Troy Bolton — because you’ll never be able to look at Zac Efron the same way ever again. The first trailer for Efron’s Ted Bundy movie, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil & Vile has dropped, and it shows a brand new, very creepy side of the beloved actor. Set during the late 1960s, the film centers on Efron as Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, and single mother Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins), who is forced to come to terms with the fact that her dream boyfriend might really be an actual monster.
Bundy confessed to killing 30 women — though the actual number of his victims is reportedly estimated by some to be much higher — often using his supposed good looks and charm to convince women that he needed assistance, only to kidnap, torture, and murder them. He is known to have revisited the corpses of his victims after the murders to sexually abuse them and in at least 12 cases, he cut off his victims’ heads and kept them as souvenirs. Bundy escaped custody twice while awaiting murder charges (at least one attempt is referenced at the end of the trailer, with Efron hopping out of a window and running away from a prison) and managed to commit even more murders while he was on the run.
Though the trailer showcases Efron’s performance as Bundy, highlighting everything from the killer’s terrifying, dark-eyed stare to his decision to represent himself in court, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile primarily presents itself as the story of Bundy’s ex-girlfriend, Liz, whose suspicions of Bundy ultimately helped lead to his capture. "Did you do these things?" Collins demands the end of the clip, with Efron’s character strongly maintaining his innocence.
In the trailer, Collins’ Liz explains the way that Bundy was able to charm the people in his life, telling a friend, "When I feel his love, I feel like I’m on top of the world."
Of course, that quickly comes crumbling down when Bundy is arrested on murder charges. And though she doesn’t want to believe that her boyfriend could be capable of such horror, at some point, the fact that the accusations were "in all of the papers," becomes too much for her to ignore.
"How did his name get on that suspect list?" Liz’s friend asks, while the trailer shows a brutal shot of Efron swinging a crowbar at one of his unsuspecting victims.
In real life, single mother Kloepfer met Bundy at a bar in Washington state, and the pair dated for six years before he was arrested on murder charges. In fact, the couple were so close that Kloepfer was the first person that Bundy called when he was in jail in Florida, which is also depicted in the trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
It might seem strange to see the fervor of support that Efron’s Bundy receives in the film’s trailer, but in reality, many people in the killer’s life were completely unaware of his crimes, including Kloepfer herself. "He told me that he was sick and he was consumed by something that he didn’t understand," Kloepfer recounted of a 1978 conversation with Bundy in the Netflix series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. "He just couldn’t contain it … he was preoccupied with this force."
According to The News Tribune, Kloepfer also wrote in her memoir, which was published after Bundy’s death in 1981, that his frequent disappearances aroused some suspicions in her. "Ted went out a lot in the middle of the night. And I didn’t know where he went. Then he napped during the day. And I found things, things I couldn’t understand," she wrote.
While Efron’s performance is certainly the most attention-grabbing part of the Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile trailer, the film’s ultimate focus on Kloepfer’s story provides new insight into the life of one of the most deadly serial killers in history. And, even more importantly, it helps to give the women in his life more agency and significance in the face of horror.
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