The Boston Strangler ★★★½

Definitely one of those films that you know was made after everyone decided that everything is better in split screen, but Fleischer (a director in need of a dossier or serious retrospective if there ever was one, given the breadth and diversity of his work) engages us through this paranoia where every perp is suddenly a murderer, and every woman splitting her own hairs at the slight thought of a man staring at her. Starts as procedural before morphing into something filled with small insights—the various men arrested for their strange and icky behaviors (though the film does upend the homosexual stereotype in an amusing way, critiquing homophobia more than causally using it), but of course the man whose behind it all is quite the opposite.

Second half morphs into something even weirder, with Henry Fonda and Tony Curtis in a one-room showdown, an interrogation room full of blank walls and that double mirror that allows for some extra-paranoid conversations. Reality slowly corrodes as the film moves along, entering more and more subjective integrations of space. Fleischer’s tone navigates this with utter curiosity instead of any sort of horror trope or “we need to nail the bad guy tone,” ending with an all but too creepy shot, and a silent set of title cards to relate the “true facts.” Not sure how close it is to the real story, but damn, is it creepy.

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