The Killer Inside Me (2010)
By: Julian on February 16, 2011  | 
Icon | Region 4, PAL | 2.35:1 (16:9 enhanced) | English DD 5.1 | 104 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Simon Baker, Ned Beatty, Bill Pullman
Screenplay: John Curran
Country: USA
External Links
IMDB Killer Inside Me, ThePurchase YouTube
The Killer Inside Me is Michael Winterbottom's adaptation of Jim Thompson's 1952 tale of madness in Texas; a Deputy Sheriff whose grip on sanity slowly slips as he is haunted by ghosts of crimes past. The Killer Inside Me is set in Central City, a small remote American town in which Lou Ford (Casey Affleck, one of Hollywood's most promising performers) is a local lawman. Lou lives with his girlfriend Amy (Kate Hudson) but he sees local prostitute Joyce (Jessica Alba) on the side; after kinky, violent sex, Joyce and Lou often talk about leaving town and making a life for themselves.

Lou's undoing is slow at first – he is abrupt towards Amy, a bit rougher than usual with Joyce and he administers a savage cigarette burn to a drunk who asks for money. As Lou's crimes escalate the District Attorney (Simon Baker) digs up Lou's past and begins to doggedly pursue the Sheriff. After doing his best to elude the DA's efforts, Lou comes to realise that there is only one escape from his predicament.

The Killer Inside Me resembles a 50s American Psycho in its portrayal of a young, charismatic man whose descent into madness is evidenced by vicious, graphically-depicted crimes. Chief among this movie's qualities is an overwhelming grimness that pervades only the best psycho thrillers. This grimness is tempered by the rustic beauty of the mid-20th century locales and the classiness that director Winterbottom brings to the proceedings. The performances are also excellent, particularly Casey Affleck's. Affleck plays Lou Ford to a tee: a baby-faced sociopath whose steely coldness and clinical demeanour makes him all the more terrifying. Those who have seen Gone Baby Gone will know that downplaying his characters is Affleck's shtick, but he certainly doesn't downplay Lou to the point of monotony: he depicts Ford as an extremely normal man. Affleck's performance is a powerhouse.

The film's misanthropy is galvanised by Winterbottom's unflinching depiction of the violence. While such treatment often has the effect of detaching a viewer, Winterbottom's presentation does the opposite. This is probably because the offending scenes are few and far between – two in the entire film are especially brutal and unnerving – and when Lou does explode, the detail of the violence is jaw-droppingly effective. The violent content of The Killer Inside Me has been the subject of most reviews and I am loathe to making it the subject of another, but the response has been noteworthy, especially during the film's infamous Sundance screening, from which Alba walked out and an audience member emotionally heckled Winterbottom and the Festival.

What lets the film down – and lets it down big time – are rudimentary failures in the storytelling. The catalyst for Lou's behaviour, shown in the first half-hour, is hurried and poorly explained, and this subplot is what the film is built upon for the remaining 80 minutes. Lesser characters are glossed over and are mentioned with little effect, when they hold considerable significance to unlocking Lou's psyche. When the climax does come around, it too is hurried and far too hysterical given the tone of the earlier content, in-your-face violence and all. This combines to severely diminish what may have otherwise been a five-star exercise in suspense.

The Killer Inside Me is an interesting film, impressive in many of its aspects, but ultimately a disappointment. Winterbottom could have created something truly great out of the source material – a psycho character study of exceptional quality, and the director certainly has the visual nous to pull it off. Inadequacies in the screenplay prevent this from happening, and it dooms The Killer Inside Me to mediocrity. Even so, this is a film worth watching. It is a modern noir, an utter downer, occasionally shocking and a glowing addition to Casey Affleck's increasingly impressive résumé.
The picture is presented in 2.35:1, with 16:9 enhancement. The film looks excellent, and its aesthetic quality is one of its great strengths. Lou's hollowness and sadism is well complemented by vibrant, colourful camerawork.
One English audio track, presented in Dolby 5.1. The sound is rich and well balanced. English subtitles are available.
Extra Features
A 24-minute behind the scenes featurette that is mostly made up of pretty unengaging footage of the production. What's better are three interviews with Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson, though they all broach pretty standard topics.
The Verdict
Recommended, with some reservations. The Killer Inside Me is well directed and exceptionally well-performed, but the screenplay presents major issues, rendering this at-once promising film merely an above-average exercise in doom and gloom.
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score

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