Another day, another Ted Bundy movie. In a year that brings not one but two more cinematic portrayals of the self-described “most cold-hearted son of a bitch you’ll ever meet”, how can No Man of God possibly bring anything new to the table following recent years’ onslaught of documentaries, books, and films on the deranged serial killer?
Based on the real transcripts of conversations Bundy had with FBI Special Agent Bill Hagmaier between ’84 and ’89, No Man of God is an eerily compelling and understated thriller-drama that could just be the definitive film on the murderer. Led by two incredible performances from Luke Kirby (the best screen Bundy yet) and Elijah Wood as his profiler Bill Hagmaier, this two-hander feels wonderfully theatrical in its tight, limited setting and small cast. Amber Sealey’s direction is magnificent too, pulling us into the conversation and onto the edge of our seats.
With the film built entirely around the haunting conversations the two men had, the film offers a fascinating glimpse at a vulnerable and ultimately frightened Bundy that almost casts a new light on his horrifying legend, while also portraying all the maniacal mind-games and disturbing conversation that leaves many scenes feeling like they’ve been pulled right out of Netflix’s Mindhunter. Kit Lesser’s engrossing screenplay brings these conversations to life wonderfully, although some more insight into Hagmaier’s home life and the effect his work had on him might’ve added another interesting layer to the narrative.
Portraying the dark and twisted mind behind Bundy without succumbing to glorification of his murders or a twisted celebration of his reputation as history’s most handsome killer as in 2019’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile means that No Man of God offers the definitive portrayal of the killer, certainly in terms of respect for his victims. Let’s just hope that this marks the end – at least for a while – of Ted Bundy media and opens the door to portrayals of lesser-known cases in the annals of crime history.
No Man of God may not have anything particularly fresh to say on the Ted Bundy legend or indeed the true-crime subgenre in general, but two richly compelling performances and excellent direction from Amber Sealey elevates this one to a high recommendation
NO MAN OF GOD is released on digital 16 September 2021 and on DVD and Special Edition Blu-ray on 25 October 2021 from 101 Films