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Enter Hulu’s Take on True Crime-Inspired Cinema

Carrie Coon as Jean Cole and Keira Knightley as Loretta McLaughlin in Boston Strangler.

True crime has evolved into a genre of its own in recent years and has proven to be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has allowed for the discussion of difficult yet necessary issues such as its significant connections to religion and fanaticism, while on the other, it raises the matter of what the resurgence of the influx of information regarding these cases may mean to victims’ families.

Most recently, we’ve seen Netflix’s controversial take on cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer and even the more peculiar and unsolved case of the New Jersey Watcher. Now, streaming giant Hulu has decided to make a go of it as well, taking audiences back to the 1960s with the infamous case of the Boston Strangler. More interestingly, however, Hulu appears to be approaching the project à la David Fincher’s Zodiac by choosing to highlight the journalists whose tireless efforts ultimately led to the killer’s arrest.

Trigger warning: the following article will contain mentions of violence and sexual assault. 

What is the story behind the case that inspired Boston Strangler

Otherwise known as the case of the Silk Stocking Murders, the Boston Strangler was a serial killer that terrorized the Boston area during the early 1960s. Between the years of June 14, 1962 and January 4, 1964, the Strangler killed and assaulted 13 women, varying in age and ethnicity, in their apartments. Almost all of these women were sexually assaulted before being strangled with their own nylon stockings, which was considered the killer’s signature. 

At the time of the first string of murders, journalist Loretta McLaughlin and her colleague Jean Cole were lifestyle reporters for the Boston Record American. They were the first two writers on the publication’s staff to connect the first series of killings and break the story. The pair fought to keep the public informed and uncovered corruption along the way, with all their efforts ultimately aiding authorities in discovering the identity of the Boston Strangler. 

Over three decades later, McLaughlin would share the intricacies that led her to pursue the now-infamous story with the Boston Globe: “An editor disputed the worth of a series on the four dead women, noting that they were ‘nobodies.’ That was it exactly, I felt. Why should anyone murder four obscure women. That was what made them so interesting … sisters in anonymity, like all of us.”

What is the plot of Boston Strangler

As previously mentioned, Boston Strangler will follow Loretta McLaughlin (Keira Knightley) and Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) and their reportage that led to the apprehension of the Strangler, all at the cost of their own safety and personal lives. The film touches on the workplace discrimination the two women faced for raising their suspicions regarding the presence of a serial killer and how they were often reminded that they belonged to the lifestyle section and not the homicide beat.

Its official synopsis reads as follows: “Based on the infamous Boston Strangler murders, this is the true story of Loretta McLaughlin, the first reporter to connect the murders and break the story of the Strangler. She and fellow reporter Jean Cole challenged the sexism of the early 1960s to report on the city’s most notorious serial killer and worked tirelessly to keep women informed.”

Who will be in Boston Strangler

Academy Award-nominated actress Keira Knightley, best known for her stellar and impressive work on period films such as Pride and Prejudice and The Imitation Game will be leading Boston Strangler’s ensemble cast as reporter Loretta McLaughlin. Alongside her as Jean Cole is The Gilded Age’s Emmy-nominated actress, Carrie Coon. It’s also since been confirmed that The Suicide Squad’s David Dastmalchian will be playing the serial killer in the film. Joining them are Alessandro Nivola (The Many Saints of Newark) as Detective Conley, Chris Cooper (American Beauty) as Jack Maclaine, and Rory Cochrane (Black Mass) as Detective DeLine. Other actors who have been confirmed to make appearances include Morgan Spector (Boardwalk Empire) as James McLaughlin, Robert John Burke (BlacKkKlansman) as Eddie Holland, Kris Sidberry (Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody), Ivan Martin (Ozark), Mellanie Hubert (King Knight), and Jon Lindstrom (True Detective).

Who will be producing Boston Strangler

Matt Ruskin will be sitting on the director’s chair and will be helming the film. His prior work includes credits in films such as Booster and The Hip Hop Project. He most notably worked for director Darren Aronofsky on Requiem for a Dream back when he was a film student. His most recent project, Crown Heights, also delves into the nitty gritty world of true crime and takes on the true case of Colin Warner, a Trinidadian immigrant wrongfully charged with murder. 

Joining Ruskin is acclaimed filmmaker Ridley Scott, who produced the film. Other names who have been attached to the movie include Paul Leonard-Logan (Limitless) as its composer, Ben Kutchins (The White Lotus) for cinematography, and Succession’s Anne McCabe as its editor.

Watch the trailer for Boston Strangler

Boston Strangler’s official trailer is a brief one-minute clip that introduces McLaughlin and Cole connecting the ongoing string of murders that appear to be plaguing the streets of Boston’s metro area. They are immediately shot down by their editor Jack, who is quick to remind them that they work the lifestyle desk. The brief glimpse into the film showcases their struggle to piece together the similarities between the murders and their determination to make the rest of the newsroom realize the importance of the case, with Knightley’s McLaughlin going to the extent of asking the number of women that need to be murdered in order for the case to be deemed a “story.” 

Is Boston Strangler releasing in theaters? 

Boston Strangler is set to premiere this coming March 17, 2023 as a Hulu exclusive. At the time of writing, we have yet to receive word if the company will be moving for a wider theatrical release, however considering that the service is owned by Disney, Disney+ subscribers can also likely expect it to be available for streaming on said platform. 

(featured image: Hulu)

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Danielle is a twenty-something writer and postgrad student based in the Philippines. She loves books, movies, her cat, and traveling. In her spare time, she enjoys shooting 35mm film and going to concerts.