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There remains an eerie fog hanging over the story of the Boston Strangler. Albert DeSalvo was arrested in 1964 under suspicion of being the killer, who stalked and murdered thirteen women in the Boston area. However, his confessions were often broken, inaccurate statements, where his claims would pinpoint him in multiple locations at once. Ultimately, his knowledge of the crimes was unmatched by anyone else, though, proving his presence at the time and place of several crimes proved to be a challenge. He was tried for the rape and robbery of several people, but the killings themselves carried an eerily ambiguous air, only complicated by DeSalvo’s post-prison protestations of innocence. While he was killed by another inmate in 1973, even that death resulted in a hung jury, with a lack of proper evidence available to incriminate his killer.
You could see why a filmmaker would find this to be promising material, and the one poised to knock it out of the park appears to be Mark Romanek. Variety report the One Hour Photo helmer is in talks to direct The Boston Strangler for Warner Bros. with a pitch that has been compared to Seven and Zodiac. The script comes from freshman scribe Chuck MacLean, and will be produced by Casey Affleck, who is set to star in the film. There is no word as to whether Affleck will be playing DeSalvo himself, or if he’ll be strapping on a badge to play a member of law enforcement.
If it’s the former, that’s one spooky choice. Affleck has always had the haunted eyes and thousand-mile stare of a man vaguely possessed. He captured sociopathic, murderous obsession in The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford, which earned him an Academy Award nomination, and was recently superb in the backwoods thriller Out Of The Furnace. A more relevant cue may be his stomach-turning performance as a smiling psycho in the unsettlingly bleak The Killer Inside Me, and it’s an easy guess to say that’s the well Affleck would approach again if he were in the lead role. It’s no coincidence the project is likened to two David Fincher films - Romanek has a similar background to the The Social Network helmer, emerging from the world of music videos with a persuasive, aggressive visual style. Like Fincher, he’s made more than a few enemies in the industry, bailing at the eleventh hour from both The Wolfman and Cinderella. Unlike Fincher, who is currently shooting Gone Girl and is arguably one of the top choices for the industry’s best scripts, Romanek has significantly less titles on his resume and success to show for it. Romanek’s last film was the haunting, elegiac Never Let Me Go, a picture that was ultimately misunderstood by critics and virtually ignored by the public.
Those seeking a fix on the material should check out the intense psychodrama The Boston Strangler. Though made in 1968, it’s a stylistically-daring horror film with Tony Curtis giving a sweat-soaked performance as the then-unquestioned killer, with Henry Fonda as the cop on his trail. Check out the trailer below, and find that film on Netflix.