Ted Bundy seems to be the serial killer that is currently in style within the movie world. Attention had previously been focused on Charles Manson, but as his popularity has now waned, Bundy has taken over the mantle. The result has been a slew of documentaries and films that have placed the murderer at the heart of their stories with varying degrees of success. One such film that looks set to find itself amongst the top tier of movies inspired by Bundy, is Amber Sealey’s No Man of God.
Based on transcripts between FBI agent Bill Hagmaier and Ted Bundy, No Man of God charts the relationship between the two men across the years leading up to Bundy’s execution. No Man of God shifts the perspective from the charismatic and borderline glamourising portrayals of Bundy to analyse the man for exactly what he was – an individual with an appetite for extreme violence who used all skills at his disposal to achieve his goal. Told through a series of meetings, Sealey’s movie distances itself from many of the others on the market by focusing solely on the aftermath of Bundy’s terror, allowing us to view him in a stark light after the facts have been revealed.
There are two things that make No Man of God a riveting watch: the performances and the production design. Whilst one would typically hope that the former is a strong component of any film, the latter is often forgotten about and overlooked. Both elements are effective here, with No Man of God told primarily via interviews between the two men. Bundy being incarcerated means that there is only one location for these talks to occur and seeing the same room time and time again could become tedious and repetitive. Yet Sealey and her team have put in the work to ensure that these encounters are mesmeric and engaging each time over. If you pay close attention, you’ll see that there are subtle tonal shifts in the colour of the walls, that as well as portraying passages of time, also cleverly set the tone and mood of the relationship between Hagmaier and Bundy. This is further reflected in the costumes, the pair initially beginning in contrasting colours before slowly sharing colours from the same colour wheel, emphasising how the two are getting closer to one another. There’s enough material for an entirely separate article just looking at the colours, how they change and what they mean. Put simply, these components are well worth keeping an eye on.
From an acting stand point, neither Elijah Wood who plays Hagmaier nor Luke Kirby who plays Bundy put a foot wrong. Each inhabit their role perfectly and the interplay and chemistry between them sizzles. Big chunks of the film rely on just the exchanges between the two and each brings their very best work. The first meeting between Hagmaier and Bundy is electric and the back and forth is like watching acting gymnastics. It has been a while since there has been a film that has been so performance led and in an ideal world, both of them would be in contention for the big awards.
Helping keep momentum, Sealey also utilises her camera to tell aspects of the narrative. With such brilliant turns from the leads, a filmmaker could become complacent and simply lock off the camera and let the talent shine. Sealey opts instead to enrich the performances by accompanying their scenes with a camera that keeps circling the table, shifting from person to person, drawing the viewer into their dynamic further and further.
No Man of God revolves around it’s performances and utilises cleverly thought out technical aspects to create a Bundy focused, but not centric, tale that offers a fresh perspective on an otherwise over-saturated topic.
No Man of God
With such a large chunk of the movie occurring within the interrogation room, credit must go to the acting acrobatics and Sealey’s talent behind the camera, which ensures that No Man of God never stagnates and always intrigues.
No Man of God was reviewed at Arrow Video FrightFest 2021. No Man of God is released on digital 13th September 2021 and on DVD and Special Edition Blu-ray via 101 Films on 25th October 2021.