Ted Bundy is the strangest of serial killers, in that he appears the most normal. He was well spoken, intelligent, well educated and good looking. Not things you think of when discussing someone known for the brutal killings of innocent girls. I guess he was the closest we had to a ‘real’ Hannibal, so much so that I wonder how much Thomas Harris took from Bundy’s interviews when creating his iconic horror tales.
When I was a kid there was a TV mini series called The Deliberate Stranger, wherein Mark Harmon shined as Bundy, so much so that I began hoovering up any books, magazines, information (pre-Internet age, kids. Libraries gave us power, as Nicky Wire would later write) about Ted Bundy. Later I would study sociology and often bring up things that Bundy had said and the teacher would excitedly ponder “Excellent. Who was it that said that?” and as soon as I replied “Ted Bundy”, my previously brilliant point was silenced. If you read Ted Bundy : In His Own Words, without thinking of the author, it is probably one of the best crime studies ever written.
Three years ago, we got the brilliant Zac Efron starring Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil And Vile, an excellent look at Bundy, which I thought may never be bettered, as most Bundy titles are straight-to-video (yeah I know that isn’t a real thing anymore, but it works as a description, right?) exploitative nastiness, which have weak scripts and wooden acting. But then, a mere 2 years later, Bundy was back on the big screen and both the film and the main performance were superior to the Efron powerhouse performance. Ladies and gents, welcome to the world of No Man Of God.
Elijah Wood has stepped out of the tentpole movie comfort zone before, starring in the remake of classic 80’s nasty Maniac and also producing the brilliant The Greasy Strangler. I know him far more from these alt projects than his hobbit time. Here he is once again, testing himself and adding another dark classic to his CV, playing the FBI analyst Bill Hagmeier who goes to visit Ted Bundy to try and get some answers about his crimes, something that many have failed at. Bill and Ted (!) strike up a close relationship, some of these conversations seem like just two mates down the pub, until the guard comes in and you remember where you are.
Now let’s talk about Luke Kirby. The best Ted Bundy performance ever. There were moments when I forgot I was watching a movie and thought it was the real thing. That close. It is a quiet yet brilliant performance. Not playing up the ‘craziness’, just talking quietly and withering you with a single look. Chilling.
The script is razor sharp, written by C. Robert Cargill, the writer of Sinister, Doctor Strange and The Black Phone, a super favourite writer of mine, although I did not know he was attached when I bought the Blu as he uses the nom de plume Kit Lesser. Unlike other Bundy films, this mostly stays away from showing you the horrors, the majority of the movie is ‘just’ Wood and Kirby and it is utterly captivating. Even though you know how it ends, there are moments where you are sure he will not get the electric chair, (that’s not a spoiler for those who don’t know any Bundy facts, the film begins with the news footage of his actual execution) even hoping that he won’t, that is how far Kirby’s performance draws you in.
No Man Of God is a thriller, a chiller, an absolutely brilliant look at the darkest side of life and the human side of the worst of monsters. Excellent.
No Man Of God is available on Blu Ray from 101 Films. Also available to rent/buy on Amazon Video.