Well, here’s something we never expected Zac Efron to do back in 2008, or even back in 2016: He’s going to play Ted Bundy. There’s a biopic about the serial killer in the works, to be called “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” And on top of boasting a title that’s a little long and hard to remember (seriously, consider losing one, maybe two adjectives before you settle on a name), it also just cast the former “High School Musical” star as someone who killed over 30 people.
Here’s where we make the case that Zac Efron is secretly a good actor. We’ve done it before, and we don’t exactly want to rehash old points. We will amend our Zac appraisal, though: He is actually very funny — provided he’s playing the quietly self-hating villain (as in the “Neighbors” films), not the easily flummoxed straight man (see: “Dirty Grandpa,” maybe “Baywatch,” based on those trailers). That’s because Efron is not only secretly funny — his screen persona works best when he’s also secretly evil.
We defer to critic Bilge Ebiri’s hilarious old review of “That Awkward Moment,” a typical rom-com in which Efron plays The Lothario Who’s Quietly Hurting Inside. Rather than critique it straight-up, Ebiri adopts a deeply funny gimmick: It pretends that the movie is not a light comedy but as a “dark psychological thriller.” Efron isn’t just a lovable lothario who needs an awakening; his pursuit of women purely for sex, Ebiri argues, is downright sociopathic. He isn’t just a horndog; he really doesn’t understand that other people have feelings, because he doesn’t have them himself.
So maybe Efron is the perfect thespian to play a noted serial killer who spent some four years racking up a mighty body count. Look at his perfect abs, his dreamy blue eyes, his faux-innocent face. We doubt very highly that Zac Efron is a murderer himself. But can he play a guy who tried to lure women to help with his “sailboat” only for there to be no sailboat? Sure.