Synopsis of Boston Strangler, Studying the Motives of Serial Killers

Synopsis Boston Strangler. Tired of the assignments, Loretta McLaughlin volunteered to cover a series of murders in Boston. Together with Jean Cole, they wrote news related to the murder which finally prompted the police to investigate this case more intensely.

They chase facts to other cities that have similar cases and find surprising facts about the perpetrators. Boston Strangler is a crime drama film about a series of murders that occurred in Boston in the early 1960s. This Matt Ruskin film starring Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon released March 17, 2023 on Hulu.

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Synopsis Boston Strangler

Boston, 1962. There have been the murders of three old women living alone. A bored Boston Record American reporter, Loretta McLaughlin, volunteered to cover the murder case. After approved by the editor-in-chief, Loretta found many similarities between these three cases, namely the victims were strangled using stockings.

Loretta explained the results of his investigation that made the public gripped with fear and the police were furious because they were deemed unable to connect three cases with this same characteristic. The chief editor, Jack MacLaine, almost stopped Loretta’s investigation due to pressure from the police. However, the mayor asked the police to thoroughly investigate this case.

The fourth victim found which made the editor-in-chief assign Jean Cole to duet with Loretta in digging deeper into the news regarding this serial murder case.

In fact, they obsessed with uncovering who the perpetrators are from the various facts found and the analysis they have carried out. However, all this refuted by the data owned by the police. Their investigation in uncovering the perpetrators of the murder actually became separate news and published in the newspapers where they worked.

This made Loretta receive various threats to herself and her family which made her husband start to feel uncomfortable with this situation. In subsequent news stories, Loretta named the serial killer the “Boston Strangler.”

A year has passed and there are already 7 murder victims that the police still cannot reveal. However, this 7th victim, Sophie Clark, was younger than the previous 6 victims which attracted attention due to changes in the pattern of killings. Although there were witnesses who saw the perpetrators, their description was still unclear. Apparently, the Boston police did not open this case to police in other cities.

Synopsis Boston Strangler

There were murders in a similar pattern in New York. The perpetrator, Paul Dempsey, successfully arrested by the New York police but ignored by the Boston police. Loretta proposed to Detective Conley one of the possible suspects she’d uncovered from tracing the news she’d unearthed, namely Alberto DeSalvo.

But there no strong evidence to arrest him even though quite a lot of witnesses were intimidated by him during the conversation. But in the end he arrested for sexual violence. One of the witnesses to the murder asked to identify the culprit, but he pointed out that it George Nassar who did it, not Alberto. Even so, a year later Alberto confessed to the 13 murders he had committed.

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Once again, due to a lack of hard evidence, Alberto convicted of theft accompanied by rape and was jailed for life for it. A year later, Loretta got word from the Michigan police about 6 murders with motives like the Boston Strangler.

Loretta went straight to Michigan to investigate as deeply as she could through the evidence and victim data. By accident, he saw Daniel Marsh’s photo in the newspaper and immediately reported it to the police.

Synopsis Boston Strangler

Daniel Marsh is the lover of one of the victims of the Boston Strangler who once intimidated Loretta when she was about to interview him. It turned out that he had moved to Michigan and that the first murders in that city occurred after he settled there. Daniel Marsh taken to the police station and questioned, but he would not speak and the police lacked evidence, so he released. Years passed and the Boston Strangler case closed.

In 1973, Loretta is contacted by Alberto from prison, who wants to make a true confession about this serial murder case. Unfortunately, after calling Loretta, Alberto was murdered in his cell. Loretta smells something strange about this case, which she thinks is not over yet. While visiting the prison to see a crime scene, Loretta gets a slip of paper from a nurse, who directs it to Harrison, Alberto’s former roommate at Bridgewater Hospital.

From him, Loretta learned a new fact: Alberto was close friends with George Nassar and Daniel Marsh at the rehabilitation institution. Loretta meets Nassar in prison, who reveals another fact: he should have received a large fee for supporting Alberto’s confession in this murder case. But unfortunately, he did not hear from the reliable lawyer, F. Lee Bailey, who represented Alberto in court.

From all these new facts that have accumulated, Loretta and Jean draw a controversial conclusion regarding who the Boston Strangler really is. What is the conclusion? You will find the answer at the end of the film, which also describes a conspiracy in the case.

Lacking a creepy atmosphere

The premise of the investigative murder case presented by journalists in The Boston Strangler immediately throws our minds at David Fincher’s masterpiece film, Zodiac (2007).

Although the cases are different, the incidents are from the same period, namely the 1960s. The Boston Strangler himself the nickname given by Loretta McLaughlin to the serial killer she investigating.

synopsis boston strangler

Matt Ruskin, as a scriptwriter and director, tries to create a noir feel in his film. Most of the background scenes taken at night in the darkness of the lonely city of Boston due to the terror of a serial killer who has not revealed. Even in the office room of Record American, there still a dark atmosphere with thin clouds of smoke from the cigarettes inhaled by its employees.

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However, this film does not highlight the thriller side of the story because it focuses more on the story of the journalism investigation conducted by Loretta and Jean. So that some scenes that should be tense just feel flat.

Moreover, the scene looks the same as the one that has appeared in similar films, such as Terror over the Telephone, with a mysterious figure staring into the window. Even in a crime-themed film about serial killers, the appearance of the victims is not shown in a vulgar manner, so that the impression of sadism appears minimalist.

We are only shown briefly at the crime scene and from several photos in the archives, which are unable to make us sure of the sadism of this serial killer.

Storyline Worth Listening To

In terms of story, of course, the Boston Strangler has strength. Based on true events and following the investigative story of two reporters of the day, this film is closely related to the historical facts of the case. Moreover, the setting of the location made in such a way that the impression of the 1960s era felt.

The Boston Strangler case itself is a complex and unsolved serial murder case to date.

synopsis boston strangler

Although Alberto DeSalvo has confessed to the 13 murders he committed, he only proven to have committed one murder, and he convicted of only that one case. Meanwhile, the other 12 murders continue to float a complex conspiracy theory. In the film, Loretta and Jean repeatedly cast suspicion on several potential suspects, but all were refuted by the police, who had separate data about these suspects.

And Alberto’s confession surprised many, especially Loretta. Even though he was the first person to suspect that Alberto fit the killer’s profile perfectly. Loretta’s investigation does not stop after Alberto sentenced to life in prison for his crimes, as he is still feeling awkward and dissatisfied with the lack of evidence in the remaining 12 cases.

Loretta Gets New Clues

Finally, thanks to her persistence, Loretta gets new clues that link Alberto to two other suspected killers, namely George Nassar and Daniel Marsh. So then Loretta and Jean created a theory that there were several killers in the Boston Strangler case. Paul Dempsey committed the first six murders, in which the victims were elderly women. He arrested in New York after committing a murder in the same way.

synopsis boston strangler

Then George Nassar committed a murder with the same characteristics and considered a copycat. He arrested not because of this serial killer but because of the violent murder he committed at a convenience store. It was only later that he became involved with Alberto while he was in prison. Then Daniel Marsh allegedly killed his own lover in the same way.

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Then he moved to Michigan and committed six murders there. However, due to a lack of evidence, he acquitted, and his whereabouts are unknown. Her involvement with Alberto and George discovered later when it revealed that they had been in the same rehabilitation institution.

Alberto, George, and Daniel involved in a conspiracy orchestrated by lawyer F. Lee Bailey, which made Alberto admit that his story could made into a book. Alberto and George promised a large fee for their cooperation, but in the end, they mere victims. Alberto killed in prison, and George spent his life in prison.

Strong cast performance

A complicated story with facts that still do not reach a conclusion, the Boston Strangler has other advantages from the acting side, especially Keira Knightley and Carrie Coon.

In a way, this 1 hour and 52 minute film is one of Keira Knightley’s best performances. She can look like a real American woman and not have a British accent at all. The exploration of his character is also quite good, where the script emphasizes the dilemma that befalls him regarding the investigation of cases and the integrity of his family.

synopsis boston strangler

Loretta, who immersed in the investigation, seemed to no longer care about the family she supposed to care for. A husband who is initially patient can get angry because he constantly ignored and his children feel far from him.

All of this can displayed by Knightley quite well and convincingly. While the role of Jean Cole also well performed by Carrie Coon, the character only made one-dimensional without our knowing the background of his life. However, he was able to convey the impression of a senior journalist with calmness and an accurate strategy for digging up facts. Apart from these two actresses, several actors also performed well, even though they had little playing time and thin characterizations.