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Written By:

Peter Turner

Based on the true story of the Monster of Martfu, Strangled details what happens when a sexually depraved serial killer is allowed to continue his crimes due to the broken Hungarian justice system of the late 1950s.

In 1957, a woman leaving work at the Martfu shoe factory is raped and murdered and her body is dumped in a river. The man who was last seen with her, Reti Akos is arrested and eventually admits to the murder despite his sister’s vehement protests of his innocence. Seven years later, a killer strikes again murdering, mutilating and dumping women’s bodies in similar ways to the previous crime. But with Reti still doing his 25 years in jail, the detectives and prosecutors begin to investigate the new crimes and question if they got the wrong man.

Strangled feels similar to David Fincher’s Zodiac in its focus on the investigators over the perpetrator of the crime. But that’s not to say that Strangled doesn’t show the sickening crimes that the killer commits. In fact, Strangled feels immediately exploitative, lingering on the sexually deviant murders as the murderer attempts to gain sexual satisfaction before, after and during killing the women. It’s an unflinching look at a man with necrophilia tendencies, but unsettling not just for the nature of the crimes but also for its dwelling on the women’s bodies as they are targeted. Director Arpad Sopsits shoots the stalking of these women like a slasher film, but the true story that this film is based on arguably deserves far more restraint.

Strangled is sometimes better when exploring the men investigating the killings. But even here, the characters are spread a little too thinly and the film can feel unfocused. In dealing with the police, the killers, the innocent man in jail and his sister, Strangled offers a thorough portrait of the main players, but is less gripping than the film could have been with a more precise focus.

Over the two hour running time, Strangled does make some clear points about justice and the pride and obsession of men tackling a difficult task. They aren’t a particularly likeable bunch either, driven seemingly more by anger and perhaps ego than compassion or sympathy for the victims. It’s here where Strangled critiques the system that could let a dangerous man remain free while an innocent man languishes in prison so as not to embarrass those in authority. As one character states, ‘people’s faith in the system must not be shaken’.

While Strangled is an interesting, if highly disturbing story, it’s let down a little by its script and style. With awkwardly conventional chase scene music, stylised stalk and slash scenes that feel out of place and disrespectful, Strangled is a strange mix of intelligent thriller and exploitative mystery. Not a pleasant watch then, and not quite for the right reasons.


Expected Rating: 6

Actual Rating:

Peter Turner

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