Frightfest presents No Man of God; book festival tickets here
No Man of God is released on digital platforms on 13th September and on Special Edition Blu-ray on 25th October
There has been no shortage of films and documentaries exploring the vicious and deadly charm of Ted Bundy over recent years – Netflix brought us his haunting tapes while Zac Efron explored his fatal charm in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Therefore, one could ask whether we are now media tired of this notorious killer’s story, and it’s one of the reasons I approach any new Bundy-inspired film with a sense of trepidation. Thankfully, Amber Sealey’s No Man of God offers us something different from the many movies and documentaries before it. Here, Sealey’s mission is clear: delve into the psychology of Bundy’s manipulative persona during the final years of his life on death row through his relationship with FBI psychological profiler Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood).
Luke Kirby’s performance as Bundy is one of the most realistic and complex I have seen on screen, but at its heart, this is Hagmaier’s story, which makes No Man of God stand out from the crowd. Hagmaier’s new role as one of the very first criminal psychology profilers is fascinating in its own right as Wood explores his need to gain Bundy’s confession through a series of nail-biting interviews and discussions. During these interviews, Sealey focuses on the relationship between the criminal and the psychologist through measured, intelligent and manipulative conversations highlighting Bundy and Hagmaier’s equally sharp intellects. These discussions carry an intense power as both men spar with each other to earn trust. Kirby’s Bundy toys with Wood’s Hagmaier like a cat with a mouse until he realises the mouse is playing its own game.
Sealey’s choice of natural breaks in the drama is also inspired as she alternates between archival 70s and 80s footage and dark and eerie montages reflecting Hagmaier’s inner thoughts. However, despite the sheer power of No Man of God’s performances and artistry, the limited runtime remains a flaw; for example, Hagmaier’s faith is under-explored, while Bundy’s confession and subsequent interviews with local state police feel rushed. However, despite this, No Man of God remains a riveting, complex and beautifully performed exploration of psychological investigation. No Man of God highlights that the men and women who commit horrendous acts of violence are not demonic, with glowing red eyes, or mad; they are manipulative, intelligent, often pleasant and always cunning. This may be uncomfortable for some, but thankfully, people like Bill delve into the minds of killers, so we don’t have to.
DAHMER AND MY FRIEND DAHMER