No Man of God Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“The Beast in His Head” / No Man of God

Genre crime drama
Directed by Amber Seely
Starring Elijah Wood (Bill Hagmeier), Luke Kerby (Ted Bundy), Robert Patrick (Roger Depew), Alexa Palladino (Carolyn Lieberman), Christian Clemenson (Dobson) and others.
Company X Studios
Release year 2021
Site IMDb

The script for The Beast in His Head / No Man of God was written by C. Robert Cargill (credited under the pseudonym Keith Lesser). Previously, he worked on the creation of the comic book Doctor Strange, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Now Cargill has switched to criminal topics, drawing attention to the last years of the life of Ted Bundy, a famous American rapist and serial killer. It is believed that in the 1970s he took the lives of 36 people, but the real number of victims remains unknown.

The script was based on real protocols, interrogation records and the memoirs of Bill Hagmeier, an FBI officer who worked at the National Center for Violent Crime Analysis. Simply put, Hagmeier was one of the few profilers of his time who studied the psychology of criminals. He tried to understand how especially dangerous killers think in order to prevent new lawlessness in the future.

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Of course, the plot of the film is reminiscent of David Fincher’s Mindhunter series, in which encounters with serial killers took place. By the way, in two seasons of the series there was not a single episode that revealed the dark personality of Ted Bundy.

Other projects were dedicated to him – for example, in 2019, the thriller Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was released starring Zac Efron. Before that, Netflix released a mini-documentary series that collected excerpts from interviews with Bundy, as well as with people from his entourage. The film and series were directed by the same director, Joe Berlinger.

Let’s return to the full-length drama No Man of God, which is not related to previous projects. The action of the picture begins in 1985 – Ted Bundy (played by actor Luke Kerby) is caught and sent to jail, but there he refuses to admit his guilt. He is visited by profiler Bill Hagmeier (Elijah Wood), the only FBI officer who himself volunteers to work with a terrible serial killer. Bill, being a Christian and an exemplary family man, wants to understand what is the reason for cruelty. Over time, he becomes close to Bundy, who causes the profiler to see the similarities between them, hinting that every person is capable of murder.

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Almost all the action of the film takes place on the territory of the prison. The characters meet in a small windowless room, where they first discuss the philosophy of the murders, and eventually move on to family stories. Hagmeier visits the criminal for several years, becomes his confidant and gradually opens up to Bundy, describing episodes from his personal life. From the outside, it is difficult to understand whether their communication is friendly, or whether the profiler is stubbornly waiting for the moment when the criminal gives up.

An interesting background to the events of No Man of God is that Ted Bundy until the last hoped to cancel the death sentence handed down by the court. He did not reveal the details of the crimes, trying to keep an interest in his secrets, which could buy him time. In the crime drama, there are practically no descriptions of the murders committed by him, instead, the creators of the tape insert into the film old documentary footage that depicts women of different ages – any of them could have been Bundy’s victim and trophy.

Actor Luke Kerby (known from the TV series The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel) very accurately copies the facial expressions and gestures of Ted Bundy. It conveys almost everything that can be seen in real interviews with the killer, recorded within the walls of the prison. Elijah Wood is one of the most recognizable Frodo from The Lord of the Rings, but that quickly fades as it becomes clear that his character’s gentleness actually contributes to the profiler’s patient work. By the way, Elijah Wood was not only an actor, he also acted as a producer of the film.

The only thing that No Man of God does not show is what monstrous murders Ted Bundy committed. On the one hand, I really do not want to hear any details about this. But on the other hand, no illusions should remain around his personality.

Pros: Luke Kirby and Elijah Wood; the script is based on real records of interrogations; communication between the profiler and the killer Cons: the picture does not show the full horror of the maniac’s crimes Conclusion:

the plot of the film is reminiscent of the series Mindhunter, it just did not have an episode dedicated to Ted Bundy.

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