"Strangled" is the international title of the Hungarian horror/thriller "A Martfüi Rém" – which roughly translates as "The Martfü Monster" – that is set in the politically turbulent period of the late fifties and early sixties, and is based on the true story of a vicious serial killer that terrorized a little industrial town. I reckon that every country has its own morbid serial killer case, and this is definitely one of the darkest pages in the history book of Hungary. "Strangled" is a very intense, stoic and grisly film and writer/director Árpád Sopsits certainly didn't bother to palliate the facts. In 1957, in the little community of Martfü where almost everybody works in the shoe factory, the corpse of a young woman is discovered in the river. The police are put under a lot of pressure to solve the crime and inspectors Botá and Katona quickly arrest the victim's weak and gullible boyfriend Akos Reti. When Reti confesses, he gets sentenced to life-imprisonment while inspector Katona gets promoted to district attorney. Seven years later, however, the mutilated bodies of multiple women are once more discovered in Martfü, and a few girls who narrowly survived the encounter with their attacker are scarred and traumatized for life. Botá receives a brand new, young and ambitious colleague who wants to re-open the 1957-case, because they may have convicted the wrong man to prison, but the district attorney Katona is too concerned about his reputation and obstructs the investigation. In parallel, the film depicts how Akos Reti literally decays in prison and even follows around the real murderer as he prepares for his next sickening and repulsive crime.
The film benefices tremendously from the gloomy time period and the sensitive political climate that both have been wondrously recreated! Practically the entire town of Martfü's population of Martfü comes walking out of the bombastic shoe factory gates. The people return to their tiny grey homes or depressing apartment blocks, while the more influential authority figures arrogantly refer to each other as "Comrade" and revert to corruption in order to save their slightly more luxurious social position. "Strangled" allegedly was a giant box-office success in its home country, which is surprising because the subject matter is extremely sinister and director Sopsits certainly doesn't restrain on showing uncompromising violence and misogynist cruelty. Many sequences are not for the squeamish, including bits of necrophilia, and the atmosphere is continuously bleak with eerie music and desolate photography. The film isn't entirely flawless, mind you. With 118 (!) minutes, "Strangled" is about 20-25 minutes too long. There are several moments of long silence between the lead characters, but those sequences are suspenseful and shouldn't have been cut. Instead, we could have done with fewer dialogues between the coppers about their cover- ups.
Crime / Thriller
Crime / Thriller
Based on real-life events, this psycho-thriller is set in the provincial Hungary of the 1960s, when a series of atrocious murders shock the small town of Martfü. A psychotic killer is on the prowl, who continues to slaughter young women while an innocent man is wrongly accused and sentenced for crimes he could never have committed. A determined detective arrives on the scene and soon becomes obsessed with the case while under pressure from the prosecutor to see a man hang. Stuck in the suffocating social, political and psychological world of socialist Hungary, we soon find ourselves entangled in a web of intricate conspiracy and disturbing drama.
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March 04, 2018 at 07:13 PM