Debuted ahead of its Sundance Film Festival premiere over the weekend, the two-minute trailer begins with a montage of Bundy (Efron) with his girlfriend Liz Kendall (Lily Collins), and later shows Bundy grinning and winking at the camera. It also shows extensive shots of Bundy changing into prison clothes with focus on his muscular torso.
Authorities believed that Bundy raped, murdered and dismembered more than 30 women before he was caught and exuected at the Florida State Prison in 1989. The release of the project coincides with the 30th anniversary of his execution.
Most of the criticism appears to be over the way the film is presented via the trailer, rather than the film itself, in which Efron's portrayal has been widely praised.
Berlinger and others have defended the film, claiming it is supposed to reflect how, at the time of his killing spree, Bundy appeared to be a handsome, charming, all-American man – an image he played up for the media.
However, many critics have pointed out those involved in making the film have fallen for Bundy's charm themselves, and omitted details of the horrific crimes he committed against women.
"It's as if (director Joe) Berlinger himself, like the media, got so caught up in the charm of Efron as Bundy that he loses the foundation of Liz's point of view and fully invests in the spectacle," a review in The Film Stage says. "While that makes for some intriguing meta-commentary, it doesn't make for a strong film."
Little White Lies made a similar point, noting in its review: "It's evident that Berlinger's intention is to highlight the dangerous charismatic sociopathy of Bundy, and the ways in which monsters are often hidden in plain sight, but it fails to show us anything about Bundy that isn't already there in archive footage (which also appears at the end of the film) and only scratches the surface of the true depravity its subject was capable of."
More about: ZacEfron