Reputation won’t be the proper phrase, however there’s been a particular uptick in curiosity surrounding the life and crimes of Ted Bundy over the past a number of years. Within the final two years alone we’ve seen Netflix’s Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Amazon’s Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer nook the docuseries market, whereas Zac Efron delivered a career-best efficiency that upended his established persona in Joe Berlinger’s Extraordinarily Depraved, Shockingly Evil and Vile.
When you can consider it, this week brings the discharge of two Bundy-centric films inside 24 hours of one another, every starring actors you wouldn’t anticipate as one among historical past’s most infamous serial killers. Former teen heartthrob Chad Michael Murray headlines Ted Bundy: American Boogeyman, which comes to pick out theaters on Thursday, simply someday earlier than The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel‘s Emmy winner Luke Kirby places an altogether completely different spin on the notorious assassin in Amber Sealey’s No Man of God.
Whereas the previous appears to be like like your normal VOD slasher that coincidentally occurs to be primarily based on a real-life determine, the latter is a way more meditative exploration of what may have made Ted Bundy tick, casting sensationalism to at least one aspect to be able to try to strip again as many enigmatic layers as attainable in an effort to get to the core of what made one man do such despicable issues, and the tip result’s a vastly spectacular showcase for each Kirby and co-star Elijah Wooden, though it struggles to shake off the trimmings of formulation now and again.
FBI Particular Agent Invoice Hagmaier is a part of the bureau’s profiling crew, and he presents to interview Bundy regardless of the very fact he’s made it completely clear that he hates the feds, gained’t speak to cops and refuses to provide them any data. After exchanging a number of letters, he ultimately agrees to satisfy Hagmaier, and nearly all of the movie is spent watching two males speaking in an interrogation room at Florida State Jail. No Man of God isn’t massive on model, splashy visuals or attempting to be one thing it’s not, however it works a deal with as an intense two-hander the place nearly each ounce of drama, emotion, terror, concern and revelation is generated from nothing however the phrases being spoken.
Based mostly on actual transcripts recorded between 1984 and 1989 between Bundy and Hagmaier, it could’ve been all too straightforward for No Man of God to fall right into a dry back-and-forth that doesn’t ship any data we haven’t seen or heard earlier than throughout a large number of documentaries and biopics, though that’s basically what it’s. From the very second the 2 first meet, we all know precisely the place we and so they each stand. Bundy nonetheless retains his mystique and the celebrity-like aura that he tries to make use of to his benefit, whereas Hagmaier is determined to show his value to the FBI’s new unit by netting the largest fish no one’s even come near catching earlier than, so that they every have lots to realize and simply as a lot to lose by pitting their wits towards one another.
Provided that the screenplay hails from Sinister author and common Scott Derrickson collaborator C. Robert Cargill working below his Equipment Lesser pseudonym, you’d be forgiven for considering that No Man of God may very well be venturing into some gory territory as we revisit Bundy’s crimes for the umpteenth event. As an alternative, Lesser and director Sealey make the neatest and wisest attainable alternative by stripping every part again to focus nearly solely on the connection between the dying row inmate and Hagmaier.
Wooden could be 40 years outdated, however he’s nonetheless bought that boyish face that makes it look as if he hasn’t aged a day since The Lord of the Rings launched twenty years in the past. Whereas he doesn’t fairly carry the requisite lived-in high quality to Hagmaier in consequence, he’s all the time been a significantly better actor than he will get credit score for, particularly when he’s tackling materials that you simply wouldn’t anticipate him to. That’s the case in No Man of God as soon as once more, and you end up turning into more and more drawn into the conversations between the 2 leads as they measurement one another up, kind a bond and ultimately begin to reveal a bit an excessive amount of about each other by way of their circumstances and predicaments, thanks solely to the power of the performances of Kirby and Wooden.
The cinematography is muted, the camerawork pure with out turning into distracting and the script detailed and informative whereas avoiding the pitfalls of turning into too expositional. It’s a thriller thriller the place everyone already is aware of the ending, however the two stars are so good which you could’t assist however grow to be engrossed. There’s nothing new or notably earth-shattering contained inside No Man of God, however it’s a riveting take a look at empathy and understanding seen by means of the lens of 1 man’s quest to dig deep into what made Ted Bundy do the issues that he did.
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