No Man of God is the latest in a long string of films about Ted Bundy. It’s one of the more interesting takes on the Bundy story, however, told mainly from the point of view of Bill Hagmaier, who was one of the first FBI profilers and developed a cordial relationship with Bundy. Elijah Wood plays Hagmaier, and Luke Kirby plays Bundy. Hagmaier was somewhat religious, and it wants to be a David Fincher movie, although it doesn’t really get there. They never got to Bundy on Mindhunter, so it’s a good companion to that series.
The film is based on various transcripts of conversations between the two men, which took place while Hagmaier was visiting Bundy to profile him. This took place in the very early days of FBI profiling, when the agency assigned profilers to various criminals such as Ed Kemper, Charles Manson and Bundy. It’s therefore very much in the mould of Mindhunter. Hagmaier starts interviewing Bundy, and is the person who finally starts to get stuff out of him. Up to this point he had been very reluctant to talk to anyone, especially any Feds. Hagmaier helps Bundy somewhat with his appeal against the death penalty, which of course he lost.
They didn’t want to make a film like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, which focuses more on the crimes and his relationship with a girlfriend, or the Matthew Bright film, 2002’s Ted Bundy, which is a bizarre comedy about Teddy. No Man of God is a good little indie movie, carried by two good actors. It’s interesting to see Elijah Wood play an older character, given that he looks much younger than he actually is. Wood produced it with his company, SpectreVision, which usually does horror films.
The period detail, which is often the failing of these kinds of films, is pretty decent given that it was clearly not the most expensive film om the planet. I like the fact that when you see the news reports about Ted Bundy, you don’t see the actor, they use real news footage—the bad reconstructions that you often see are one of my cinematic pet peeves. I know that sometimes there are legal issues, but if you can avoid it, then don’t do that.
It’s essentially a two-hander between Bundy and Hagmaier, and that’s the core of the film—how they both get inside each other’s heads. Although it gets a little messy towards the end, it’s a solid film offering a relatively thoughtful take that has not been sensationalised on a real-life serial killer. One of the most effective scenes comes near the end, which shows just how brutal people can be when members of the public are camping out to watch Bundy fry.
The extras include interviews with both lead actors and also actress Aleksa Palladino, who plays Bundy’s lawyer.