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Boston Strangler: The Untold Story
cast: David Faustino, Joe Torry, Andrew Divoff, and Corin Nemec

writer and director: Michael Feifer

93 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Lions Gate DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 2/10
reviewed by Ben J. Lamb
The 'Boston Strangler' remains somewhat of an enigma to this day. A series of murders in Boston in the late 1960s caused mass hysteria throughout the city as the country's closest equivalent to Jack the Ripper committed his murders. All seemed to be solved when an inmate named Albert De Salvo confessed to the killings. But massive loopholes in his story have always cast doubts over the legitimacy of his claims. This recent depiction of the events drastically fails to shed any light on the myth or offer a new interesting interpretation other than stringing together a number of clichés.

The film's plot can be broken down into three strands. For the first half of the film De Salvo creeps around and strangles women. One victim in particular is far too easily led to sympathise with. Her lack of personality and willingness to let an absolute stranger come into her apartment and feel her breasts under the pretence of being a rich model scout, without a shred of ID, makes her murder impossible to empathise with.

The second half of the film then deals with De Salvo's time in prison and his decision to come out as the Boston Strangler with a little persuasion from his inmate Frank. His delusion into thinking that his confession would finally give his name meaning could have made an interesting analysis into the public's growing pathological lust for celebrity. Instead we are subjected to a terribly scripted and acted negotiation scene as Frank and De Salvo persuade their lawyer Mr Whitmore to get in on the deal.

The third and final plot strand which runs throughout the film is the relationship between detective Marsden and De Salvo in a Michael Mann inspired cat and mouse chase. The pressure Marsden is put under to the catch the killer develops into an obsession which puts the strain on his marriage. His isolation from those around him as he sits outside on his own porch drinking beer whilst his wife hosts a party is not subtle and incredibly obvious.

Overall all these plot strands suddenly hit a brick wall. There seems to be no vision in this movie, as it is a lazily put together retelling of events that a dramatised documentary would be too ashamed to produce. When the credits roll to explain that the DNA found on two of the female victims in 2001 was not De Salvo's does not have the chilling poignancy of David Fincher's Zodiac (2007), but more of a last desperate attempt to salvage some interaction with an audience, an attempt to provide some closure over the boring events that have unfolded without meaning.

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