Starring: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Bill Pullman, Elias Koteas, Ned Beatty

Director: Michael Winterbottom

Writer(s): John Curran, Jim Thompson (novel)

Cinematography: Marcel Zyskind

Original Score: Melissa Permenter

Running Time: 109 Mins.

A film whose reputation precedes it, and the latest taboo shaker from Michael Winterbottom, The Killer Inside Me was never going to be your generic run-of-the-mill study about a serial killer though to be fair neither was the source novel. A faithful adaptation this is a tale that takes in violence at its most brutal, met out at its worst on women and sees little to no motive or explanation for it, while this is a harrowing watch at times it is never a film to present us with an opinion rather putting forth the events on-screen in an almost factual, documentary style way and one in which there is no seeking to condemn or berate the lead characters brutal acts, and it is in this that the controversy has grown.

Within the first 20 minutes two are dead, and one of the films two sickening acts against the leading ladies have been met out, Jessica Alba as prostitute Joyce Lakeland is not an innocent herself, and when she first slaps Affleck’s Sheriff Lou Ford we see the previously hidden rage bubble to the surface in one look. Pushed to the edge he takes it on himself to beat Lakeland with a belt, to which it is suggested she enjoys, from here an obsessive affair develops with the primary objective of blackmailing the town’s big business founder.

So far so noir, but plot is secondary to character machinations, Affleck is a powerhouse in the most subtle of ways, a smirk here, a glare there, this is as far from panto evil as you can get, in fact that’s the truly scary thing. Despite the acts Lou carries out you feel little towards him other than intrigue which is where both the strengths and weaknesses of such a film lie. There is no attempt made to suggest why this murderer lay under Lou’s calm exterior, the idea is raised that we know little of someone from their exterior and as Lou himself says “people think they know you because they grew up with you” but these ponderous anecdotes do little to make the audience think, simply accept the events we see when we should probe further.

As the story builds it becomes more complex and Lou attempts to cover his tracks as the kill’s mount, oddly it is only those murders of the women that are lingered on with little explaination offered other than sparse and cryptic flashbacks to Lou’s youth that hint at a twisted upbringing but never answer fully enough to forge any understanding of linger in our thoughts beyond the scenes to pose questions and possibilities. That said it is a film that cannot fail to stay in your mind, more for the shock factor that any deep desire to find method in Lou’s madness.

It is obvious that the scenes of violence are those that remain memorable but as you watch they will punctuate the experience and permeate through the plot, cold and clinical as they are, this is not 300 style ultra-violence, they serve a purpose and are neither glorified nor especially frowned upon. Character’s that feature are real people, neither good nor bad, each has a motive and those that don’t are simply doing there jobs, in amassing a great ensemble to surround Affleck’s bubbling tension-fuelled turn are a duo of beauties playing largely against type but stand up strong as real women, flawed as anyone, each character seems to drift in and out of Lou’s life, only there to serve their purpose in his scheme or to crop up in attempts to corrupt it.

While the story fits a classic narrative Winterbottom chooses to take a fresh perspective that is led not by narrative drive but by simple cause and effect on character’s in the most clinical way, this is a journey through the psyche of a clearly twisted individual that is scarily as “normal” in many ways as anyone else, not an enjoyable experience then but rather a true and truly disturbing one.

VERDICT

The violence met out is what The Killer Inside Me will be remembered for, with good reason, it is what drives the film and it’s lead performance by Affleck, commendable for its clinical approach yet somewhat cold for it too, one to be admired then, for better or worse.

Advertisements