Tribeca 2021: NO MAN OF GOD Review – Monsters are Real

Alt Poster by Creepy Duck Design

Starring Luke Kirby, Elijah Wood, Aleksa Palladino, Robert Patrick

Written by C. Robert Cargill as Kit Lesser

Directed by Amber Sealey


America is fascinated with serial killers. Over the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of movies and shows about one of the most notorious serial killers in American history, Ted Bundy. Known for being charismatic and highly intelligent, Bundy confessed to more than thirty murders in seven states between the years 1974 and 1978 and was eventually executed by electrocution in 1989. With Americans’ obsession with the macabre details of serial murders, Bundy has often been glorified and portrayed as a regular human being in films, rather than a monstrosity. Thankfully, No Man of God, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival over the weekend, does an excellent job doing just the opposite and revealing Bundy for what he was.

Related Article: TRIBECA 2021 Interview: Elijah Wood, Luke Kirby and Amber Sealey On Ted Bundy Thriller NO MAN OF GOD

Synopsis: The complicated relationship that formed between the FBI analyst Bill Hagmaier and serial killer Bundy during Bundy’s final years on death row.

Written by C. Robert Cargill (Sinister, Doctor Strange), under the pseudonym Kit Lesser, and directed by Amber Sealey (No Light and No Land Anywhere), No Man of God successfully does what so many other films about Bundy have failed to do – show the true nature of what he was. Luke Kirby (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), who stars as Ted Bundy, obviously did his homework. He looks like Bundy, he talks like Bundy, and he skillfully exudes a palpable, dangerous charisma. Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings) plays FBI Agent Bill Hagmaier, who conducted several interviews with Bundy between 1986 and 1989. The film also stars Aleksa Palladino (Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead) as Bundy’s civil attorney and Robert Patrick (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) plays Hagmaier’s boss, Roger Depue.

Hagmaier is religious and married with children, and when he volunteers to interview Bundy, his boss laughs and tells him Bundy doesn’t talk to FBI Agents. Hagmaier proves him wrong. When Hagmaier first meets with Bundy, Bundy is cocky and nonchalant, and despite the fact he doesn’t talk to FBI Agents, he takes an interest in Hagmaier. Hagmaier tells Bundy that his intent is simply to understand Bundy and that he’s not there to get a confession from him. That approach works and Bundy and Hagmaier form an unusual, intimate bond over the course of their interviews. Bundy craves attention, but he desperately wants to be understood and even considers Hagmaier to be his friend. What really makes this movie so compelling isn’t just Kirby’s unnerving portrayal of Bundy, but also Wood’s expert embodiment of Hagmaier as a man who is struggling internally because of his relationship with Bundy.

In the beginning, Bundy and Hagmaier talk about their lives, like friends do, but eventually Bundy begins to open up to Hagmaier about his horrific crimes. At one point, Bundy asks Hagmaier if he thought he could kill someone. Afterwards, Hagmaier is visibly shaken and it’s obvious Bundy has gotten inside his head and is causing him to venture into a dark place inside himself for the first time. Hagmaier is seen driving and looking at women passing by, wondering to himself, “What would Bundy do in this situation? Am I capable of doing the unthinkable?” Between the prison interview sequences and the shots of Hagmaier alone contemplating horrible things, the cinematography sets the tone of the film, and it sometimes feels like you’re watching a movie from the eighties, which works in the film’s favor.

After previously being charged with kidnapping, and then escaping from authorities, Bundy had only been charged with the murders of two sorority sisters and the murder of a twelve-year-old girl. It wasn’t until his conversations with Hagmaier that he eventually confessed to over thirty murders that he had been suspected of committing. In order to finally get these confessions from Bundy, Hagmaier had to open himself up to Bundy and was emotionally scarred because of it. Wood’s Hagmaier seems to genuinely care for Bundy and was willing to sacrifice his own mental health in order to gain Bundy’s trust and ultimately get the confessions.

Also Read: Tribeca 2021: 5 New Virtual Film Premieres You Don’t Want to Miss

Wood is excellent as Hagmaier, a man torn between doing his job and doing the right thing, but who is also willing to confront his own inner demons in the process. Kirby is terrifying, but completely enthralling to watch, especially as Bundy begins to unravel as his execution date is set. The way he confesses, without emotion, to decapitating a woman and then having sex with her severed head, is gut-wrenching to watch. There is zero glorification of Bundy here. Instead, No Man of God goes to great lengths to successfully show what Bundy truly was – a monster not worthy of compassion. You can skip all those other Bundy movies. With phenomenal performances from Kirby and Wood and masterful writing, No Man of God is the only one you need to watch.

  • No Man of God
4.5

Summary

Kirby’s unnerving charm as serial killer Bundy, along with Wood’s portrayal of tormented FBI Agent Hagmaier expose the true nature of Bundy, and make this the only serial killer movie you need to watch

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