Zac Efron's 'romanticised' portrayal of serial killer Ted Bundy sparks outrage

Zac Efron's latest role as serial killer Ted Bundy has triggered a backlash, with accusations the portrayal romanticises the notorious murderer and rapist.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile depicts Hollywood heartthrob Efron as the charismatic Bundy, a man convicted of killing more than 30 women.

In the film's trailer, Efron's character appears shirtless, winks at the camera and kisses his girlfriend in a montage set to upbeat guitar music, but peppered with moments of violence.

Many online commentators have taken issue with the tone of the film and the potential impact it could have on those affected by Bundy's killing spree that spanned the 1970s.

"I feel so bad for the families of the victims that have to sit there and see their terrors revived as a witty romantic thriller," one Twitter user wrote.

"Imagine being the mother, father, brother, sister, etc. to one of those women who was violently taken from this world by this devil," said another.

"And instead of their memory being respected, having people going to see their killer romanticized and their death re-enacted for entertainment."

Some were concerned that younger audiences, especially fans of Efron, would idealize the character. 

"Can we not sexualize Ted Bundy? He raped, murdered, and decapitated women and had sex with their dead bodies. Not here for this hyper-sexualized Zac Efron film," one tweet read.

"I know the youth of twitter will obsess over him, and I'd prefer not to read thirst tweets about a serial murderer."

Others defended the film, citing the fact that Bundy was well-known for his looks, charm and charisma, which often helped him carry out his horrific acts.

"Psst, hey woke Twitter, in real life Ted Bundy was romanticized by the media and everyone he knew," one Twitter user wrote.

"That's what the Extremely Wicked trailer is reflecting and what the movie will attack head on."

"The movie just showing how he was able to use his "handsomeness" to evade being caught I honestly don't see anything wrong and I'm going see the movie," said another. 

Efron hasn't yet responded to the backlash.