Serial Killers are trendy! Or at least they’ve shown themselves to be in the recent release of Netflix original series. The success of true crime tv-series and documentaries reveal’ a demographic that is utterly fascinated by the minds of those who kill. The overwhelming positive response to Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, another Netflix production, has prompted them to produce a feature length biopic on Bundy, titled Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
The Ted Bundy tapes ignited some controversy from viewers who did not appreciate how much the documentary focused on how charming and handsome Bundy was. There is a certain tendency in media to glorify him as a charismatic, criminal mastermind and give little attention to the victims that he violently brutalized and murdered. Stephen Colbert touches on this issue in a bit from the late night show in which he addresses the sexualization of serial killers. You can see his take on it in the clip here. Netflix's Next 'Sexy Serial Killer' Documentary
The trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile does not seem to alleviate any of the criticism aimed at Netflix. The film stars Zac Efron as Bundy. Need I say much more? Casting a former disney star and shirtless aficionado as your lead serial killer does not seem to do any damage control on the serial killer sexualization argument. However, the film does appear to have a very strong performance from Efron and it is very possible that he was simply chosen for his resemblance to Bundy and his dynamic acting ability.
Controversy aside, the film does carry a certain weight to it that is different from all the biopics that have been recommended before. There is an inherent darkness to true crime shows and movies about serial killers. It is very important to remember when viewing these films that these are not men to be idolized and if we build them up to be something more than lowly, evil men, we give them posthumus power and feed their image. All they wanted was to be worshipped and remembered. At the end of the day, it is the victims that we should carry with us and work to make sure that their names are not forgotten.
Until Netflix chooses to make a documentary or biopic that focuses on the people who suffered at the hands Ted Bundy, I suggest proceeding with the viewing of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile with caution. The story is truly everything the title describes, and it focuses on a man who does not deserve anyone’s respect or admiration.