a Tough Reporter Stalks a Killer The Talks Today

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a Tough Reporter Stalks a Killer
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a Tough Reporter Stalks a Killer

Many major cities in the United States have a serial killer story. LA had Richard Ramirez, the Night Stalker; New York City had David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam; and Milwaukee had Jeffrey Dahmer. Boston, Massachusetts, is no exception. In the 1960s, the city was in the grip of a series of killings known as the Boston Strangler murders. 13 women were murdered during this period of unrest and paranoia. The crimes were ultimately and somewhat conclusively pinned on Albert DeSalvo, but the theory still looms that there was more than one killer on this particular spree.

As with many major serial killers, movies have been made about the Boston Strangler. The Boston Strangler was released in 1968, not long after the actual murders. It starred Henry Fonda, George Kennedy, and Tony Curtis as the titular killer. Now more than 50 years later, the infamous murderer is getting another big screen adaptation in Boston Strangler, starring Keira Knightley, Carrie Coon, and Chris Cooper. The film will follow the case from the perspective of a relentless reporter named Loretta McLaughlin, who broke the story and followed it to every corner of the city. The Boston Strangler trailer recently dropped for its Hulu release. Here’s a breakdown of the footage.


Following the Story

Walt Disney Studios

The trailer begins with an overhead shot of a sprawling Boston, darkening and quiet, with little to no cars on the road. A blonde-haired woman walks alone down a quiet sidewalk, a man out of focus behind her as she nervously glances over her shoulder at him. The overriding audio speaks of the city with such adjectives as “glamorous” and “prosperous,” concluding, “Only recently has it become dangerous.” Finally, we get our first look at Knightley as reporter McLaughlin cautiously approaching a doorway striped with crime scene tape.

The footage cuts to a bustling Boston newsroom, McLaughlin receiving a phone call and imploring a colleague’s attention. Hands sift through old paper clippings as McLaughlin insists to her boss that she’s found something worth reporting on. She informs her editor Jack Maclaine that three women had been strangled in recent weeks, only to be rebuffed with a condescending reminder that she only works the lifestyle desk and isn’t an investigative reporter of any hard news. “You’re not covering a homicide,” sneers the Maclaine, played by Chris Cooper. She insists to him that the murders are connected as a trunk slams shut, a pair of gloves are slipped over hands, and an unseen person enters an open doorway. The bare dangling legs of a presumed victim of the Strangler are quickly shown.

Related: Keira Knightley’s Best Costumes in Movies, Ranked

McLaughlin is seen determinedly walking out of the building of a crime scene, a gaggle of passersby corralled by police officers. Maclaine informs her that he’s “killing the follow-up” and that her story has gone cold. “How many women have to die before it’s a story?” insists a defiant McLaughlin.

The Killing Escalates

Boston Strangler

A dark figure enters a doorway looking over the lifeless body of a woman as a newspaper employee informs Cooper’s editor that body number four has been confirmed. Reporter Jean Cole, played by Carrie Coon, says that she hasn’t seen the police give so little information about any crime. Then, it cuts to a senior police official telling a rowdy press that he doesn’t care how many assailants there are; those responsible will be brought in.

The bright yellow beam of a flashlight illuminates a figure with his hands up as an unseen officer identifies himself and demands that hands be put on the wall. Another cop laments that they had the killer and let him go. Finally, a pair of hands is seen coming to gather and engorging a woman’s lower legs in a strangulation-like grip, then cutting to her grimacing face and looking away.

Getting closer to her answers, McLaughlin says that “everything lines up” with a particular suspect, including his history and the progression of the actual crimes. A line of suspects is seen marching toward a police line-up, with one woman pointing at an unseen numbered man behind the glass. A man is seen holding up a booking placard as the flash of a police photographer goes off. “It’s a dead end every time with this case,” says Detective Conley, portrayed by Alessandro Nivola.

A Growing Obsession

Boston Strangler

Meanwhile, McLaughlin’s husband is tired of her obsession with the case, asking what she thinks she’ll find and over what period. McLaughlin and Cole are seen flipping through files reluctantly provided by a worker as they continue to dig. Maclaine is seen in an intense exchange with his own boss, accusing the Boston police of blowing it on the Strangler case. McLaughlin is seen embracing her sleeping daughter, followed by a succession of women turning their heads toward the camera, possibly representing the point of view of the Strangler. “Your safe little world is just delusion” a voice says as McLaughlin peers out the window to see a black-clad stranger looking up at her from the street.

Related: Best Serial Killer Movies Based on or Inspired by True Stories

As stated, this case has been covered in a movie before, going on 60 years ago. But seeing it from the side of the press and the police is a unique angle that can bring some fresh perspective to a well-known true crime case. Boston Strangler will stream on Hulu on Mar. 17.