03rd Sep2021

Frightfest 2021: ‘No Man of God’ Review

by Chris Cummings

Stars: Elijah Wood, Luke Kirby, Robert Patrick, Aleksa Palladino, Christian Clemenson | Written by Kit Lesser | Directed by Amber Sealey

Written by Kit Lesser and directed by Amber Sealey (No Light and No Land Anywhere), No Man of God takes the horrifying true crime case of Ted Bundy and contorts the lens in order to look at Bundy’s relationship with FBI analyst and profiler Bill Hagenmaier during his final years as a death row inmate.

It’s an intriguing concept and one I was very excited to sit down and watch. Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) plays Hagenmaier and Bundy is played by Luke Kirby, whom I personally know from his run in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as Lenny Bruce. The majority of this movie is a character play between two men, a conversation, a back and forth. Seeing Kirby and Wood act their socks off is a joyous thing, and the trim and simple manner in which things proceed makes this something fresh, something unique. We’ve seen the Bundy murders covered in film and on television in which the grisly and disgusting crimes have been both shown and highlighted. No Man of God doesn’t walk that avenue, though, simply seeking to understand and discuss the relationship between Hagenmaier and Bundy. We don’t witness any of Bundy’s crimes, we don’t see blood and gore, and we aren’t given detailed accounts of his murders. This is more than that, perhaps even less than that at times. It’s a completely fresh take on the tale as two men learn to trust and question one another’s motives in an interrogation room about as grey and nondescript as can be.

It’s an obviously deep and complex plot, and the way it unfolds has plenty to sink your teeth into as a viewer. There’s manipulation at play from two sides, a curious glance at the intricate traits of both men. The performances are on-point, full of depth and remarkable restraint. I thought Kirby really stood out, his peculiar charm bubbling above the sheer psychopathic nature of what lurks beneath. Woods is also really good in his role, and these slick characterisations take the whole movie to another level. It’s written splendidly by Lesser, and Sealey’s direction is calm and true, not overdone or music-videoesque, like serial killer biopics tend to teeter on the edge of being.

I thought this was a tremendous movie with incredibly strong performances across the board. You begin to see through different eyes as the birth of criminal profiling drifts across the screen. I’ve seen countless films and shows based on true crime accounts, and this one certainly sits on the upper level along with the likes of Zodiac and Netflix’s Mindhunter. A low-key yet riveting look into the psyche of one of the most notorious serial killers in the annals of history, No Man of God is definitely one to seek out. Fantastic.

***** 5/5

No Man of God screened as part of this years Arrow Video Frightfest.


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