Boston Strangler a moody look at history that doesn’t quite land

(L-R): Carrie Coon as Jean Cole and Keira Knightley as Loretta McLaughlin in 20th Century Studios’ BOSTON STRANGLER, exclusively on Hulu. Photo by Claire Folger. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

In the early 1960s a string of murders had residents of Boston on edge. In the midst of that, a pair of reporters for the Record American shined a light on the murders and the stalled investigation that had the city on edge. Now, a new biopic seeks to capture their journey to catch the infamous Boston Strangler.

In the film, Loretta McLaughlin (Kiera Knightly) is a wife and mother who’s trying to balance the strains of family life and her career. She also wants to break away from features. When she comes across a murder case, she finds an opportunity. As the story blossoms into something bigger, Loretta is paired with veteran reporter Jean Cole (Carrie Coon) and spends years digging into the case of the Boston Strangler.

I love a good crime drama. I also love a good journalism film. This would seem to be the perfect fusion of the two, tackling a true crime story that’s long fascinated viewers. But the script from writer/director Matt Ruskin doesn’t quite come together.

The first half of the film is mostly spent on tracking the case. But where one might be tempted to think this film was going to be about the hunt for the Strangler, that’s only about half of its aims. The back half is more focused on the conspiracy theories surrounding the case, the bulk of which remain just that—theories—more than 50 years later.

We also don’t get enough investment into Loretta and Jean, both of whom are trying to balance family and career. There’s isn’t a great deal of depth of character built into the world beyond these women, which doesn’t allow the rest of the cast to shine.

Despite that, there are some engaging moments, particularly in the first half. I enjoyed Knightly and Coon and I thought they worked well together on screen. This is meant to be something of a different kind of showcase for Knightly and it works.

While I didn’t love Ruskin’s script and pacing, he has some good, moody shots. Those are the kind of things you need in a film like this and that helped hold my attention, particularly in the first half.

Overall, the film has plenty of potential and a few moments but it doesn’t capitalize on all that potential.

Boston Strangler streams on Hulu beginning Friday, March 17.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. He is a member of the FSWA. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: