DVD The Killer Inside Me

DVD The Killer Inside Me
DVD The Killer Inside Me
Run time: 109 min
Rating: 6.2
Genres: Crime | Drama | Thriller
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Writers: John Curran, Jim Thompson
Stars: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba
Sadism and masochism beneath a veneer of revenge. Lou Ford is a mild-mannered sheriff’s deputy in a Texas oil town in the mid 1950’s. His boss sends him to roust a prostitute living in a rural house. She slaps him; he hits her, then, after daily sex for the next few weeks, he decides it’s love. She’s devoted to him and becomes his pawn in a revenge plot she thinks is to shakedown the son of Chester Conway, the town’s wealthy king of construction. Lou has a different plan, and bodies pile up as murder leads to murder. The district attorney suspects Lou, and Conway may have an inkling, but Lou stays cool. Is love, or at least peace, in the cards? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>
Plot Keywords: revenge, texas, deputy, sheriff, murder
Country: USA, Sweden, UK, Canada
Release Date: 8 June 2010 (UK)
Box Office
Budget: $13,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend: $19,248 (USA) (25 June 2010)
Gross: $214,966 (USA) (13 August 2010)


  1. First off, this is a film that is made with a lot of artistry, if little heart. It doesn't bore, the directing is efficient, and it has an interesting premise: a sheriff who is also a serial killer.It's shot in an arresting style, all headlights emerging from a dusty road, and people sitting alone at diners as in an Edward Hopper painting. So that's 4 good things. However the lack of suspense does get to you after a while; if you establish that the protagonist is a monster from the get-go, you are not going to get a lot of ambiguity, and therefore no tension. Towards the end you are sort of just waiting for more violence to break out, which is inevitable.

    Ah yes, the violence. On this I differ from a large majority of the public, who seem to find it terribly gratuitous. I thought it is shocking, but that it is not entirely a bad thing. Yes, the scene of Jessica Alba being beaten to pulp will disturb, but then again i thought it was crucial to the story as well. What I do object to is the lack of conviction in the tone. As a serious study of a disturbed human being, it doesn't quite go far enough. David Lynch has definitely gone further. As something in the noir tradition, it falls short, capturing the style but not the world-weariness and the intrigue. (in fact, teenage noir Brick succeeds more on this level than The Killer inside me) And as a black comedy (whenever something terrible happens the banjos will kick in to give the film a perverse comic twist) again it doesn't go far enough (the Coen brothers are much better at this sort of thing, ultra violence shot through with humour). The last shot in which everything goes up in flames is almost laughable, but not in the right way.

    That said, this is an accomplished effort from a director who clearly knows his material well, and Casey Affleck gives an effortless performance as Lou Ford. And I like the often seamless segue from sex to violence and back to tender embrace; it illustrates perfectly the dynamics of S/M, if nothing else.

    One funny thing is the audience reaction. I saw this at the Hong Kong film festival, amongst a mostly appreciative audience. Nobody booed; in fact, there were lots of clapping. Distributors take note: this film might have a lot more prospects in Asia than in Europe/U.S.A., where violence on the screen is in fact quite common and quite widely tolerated. There were lots of laughing ; I think a lot of people felt that they were watching some sort of black comedy. Just an interesting cultural observation, as I have heard that the film produced very negative reactions at both Sundance and the Berlinale.

    So, in conclusion, definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but well worth a look if only to see how a twisted mind works. It's a good portrait of a disturbed man, even if the story is, ultimately, inferior to the character.

  2. If you've followed the history of this film, then you know it was twenty years in the making. The producers who optioned the rights were on a veritable quest. At one point, Val Kilmer was slated to act, Sean Penn, to direct.

    Eventually, many Thompson fans consigned the project to limbo, not knowing how passionate the parties involved actually were. (Chris Hanley is the same producer who delivered This World, Then the Fireworks — one of the most faithful and unapologetic Thompson adaptations.) Having seen Winterbottom's final cut, I'm glad the producers took their time. The screenplay writer and director have made a film so uncompromisingly faithful to Thompson's novel that a few audience members will usually leave the theater during the most graphic scenes.

    Make no mistake: This movie is more grisly than anything by Sam Peckinpah, and the subject is as misogynistic as that of Straw Dogs (though it's the character, not the director, who hates women in this case). If you're a person who can't watch or sanction scenes in which women are brutalized, then this is a film to avoid.

    If not, then you're ready to see the book represented in its pulpy essence, with excesses and virtues on display.

    Psychopathic sheriff Lou Ford is equal parts self-destructive sadist, con man and facade. For him, excessive politeness and long-windedness are forms of veiled hostility. Brutal sarcasm is delivered in a good-natured everyman way. Everything Ford says is double entendre, the punchline, only apparent to him. He ushers people to their doom in the same tone he might use to offer them a drink.

    Other film adaptations, from Tavernier's Coup de Torchon to the 70s version of Killer, have missed Ford's quintessentially Southern hostility. Those French and So Cal readings failed to recognize the specific way in which Thompson turns the naive good-natured American stereotype on its head. Winterbottom understands it and shows it, as does his lead.

    The actor who plays Ford is famous but not yet so ubiquitous that his celebrity obscures the power of Ford's character. Since character carries an unusual amount of weight in Thompson stories, Casey Afflick was a perfect choice: Likable and chameleonic, with an admirable range and a delivery so spent and inviting it will remind you of Bill Clinton's. You don't just enjoy this portrayal of Ford because he's an interesting villain. You actually sympathize with the character's attempts to regain self-control.

    When I read a reviewer's description of Ford listening to classical music and reading Freud, I groaned. I thought he'd been reduced to another Hannibal Lecter.

    Not to worry: Affleck's Ford never talks about culture and he never air-conducts.

    From the period-specific tone to the apparent humility and social restraint of the killer — which made readers sympathize with him even after he committed acts that seemed designed to justify the death penalty — this film is to Thompson what Wynton Marsalis is to Miles Davis: Reverent to the point of sacrificing personality, but giving back everything in terms of performance, style and formal correctness. The attention to form was particularly appreciated: Having read the book twice, I knew what was coming and still enjoyed the ending.

  3. Ironically, I picked this over the documentary 'Armadillo' about the war in Afghanistan, because I didn't feel like watching a truly frightening and disturbing movie that night. I felt like watching something 'fictionally scary'. It seems I should have gone for the war documentary instead, this movie had me wrecked emotionally for days. The story kind of clings, you have to deal with it, but it's complex and hard. It's a challenging movie.

    What keeps riddling me about this movie, is how on earth did anyone manage to make me feel sympathetic towards the main character, who's an occasionally psychotic, cynical and brutal sadist? Even when he loses his temper completely with consequences beyond anything you thought you would ever watch on the big screen, you find yourself on his side.

    Now, it's not an uncommon ambition for a director to construct 'bad' characters with compelling sides that awaken your sympathy, but this is beyond my comprehension. He's not a character you feel sorry for, he's not playing the victim anywhere, he's a sadist out of control. He plans things carefully to serve his own purposes and explodes in violence. Still, you want him to make it. You are left for hours thinking and discussing why on earth you found yourself supporting this character. Why would anybody?!? I don't know how this was done, it is, as I said, disturbing.

    I was thinking about this for days, I'm still thinking about it. There are many story lines to examine in retrospect, there's his childhood, the violence, the biblical figures and references, the forbidden sexual urges, the gender dynamics of the time and how Hudson and Albas characters are both in their own way revolting them. Casey Affleck gives a scarily brilliant performance, and Kate Hudson deserves compliments on her fantastic performance as the classical 'good girl of good family' of the 1950s who hides both a great social insight and a dark side.

    The Killer Inside Me is a great conversation starter, my boyfriend and I discussed this for hours (and we are far from an intellectual movie-discussing couple). Americans should be warned though, this is without a doubt one of the most graphical violent Hollywood productions I have ever seen.

  4. The Killer Inside Me is tough. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, the film gives the audience an experience that is hard to describe. If you have heard anything about the film so far, it most likely concerns the graphic violence that is depicted against women, and it is graphic. Some may consider it a success for its ability to make the viewer squirm, but the deliberately paced film has a muddled story that will leave you feeling confused and uneasy.

    Based on Jim Thompson's 1952 novel of the same name, The Killer Inside Me tells the story of Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck). Taking place in a small West Texas town, Lou is a soft-spoken and patient man. The community pays Lou no mind thinking him to be a bit boring, but nothing else. Little do they know that there is another side of Lou lingering beneath the surface. He has been able to repress his "sickness" since his childhood but an interaction with local prostitute Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), reawakens the monster within.

    Cinematographer Marcel Zyskind deserves all sorts of credit for the way the film is shot. The depiction of the period is spot-on. A reserved palette is used throughout the entire film. The muted colors help to allow the screen to ooze 1950s nostalgia. There is a visual honesty in the way everything looks that makes the images intriguing. Even during moments when I wanted to turn away because of events taking place on the screen I was drawn back.

    The acting is hit-and-miss. Casey Affleck is fantastic as Lou Ford. He is able to portray a gradual slide into insanity in such an understated manner that you can lose track of how deep he has fallen. From the first appearance of Affleck on screen, I felt uneasy. At a point in the film where nothing has really happened yet, the viewer can sense that there is something not right about Lou Ford. I can't put my finger on exactly how Affleck does it but it is abundantly successful. This is no Dexter Morgan. You want Ford to be caught. As the film progresses your hatred for Ford grows exponentially. This may be the reason why the film's ending isn't satisfying. Other than Affleck, the acting is nothing special. Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba are simply there. The story's punch comes from a caring for both Hudson and Alba's characters, but the film never makes you care. They seem to be there literally to be Ford's punching bags. The two are little more than props for Affleck to use and this hurts the story.

    Time to address that violence I mentioned. There are a couple scenes in the film in which women are brutally beaten. Personally, this is up there with rape on the list of things I don't want to see in film. That being said I can recognize the intent of its use in this film. The brutality in which Ford harms the women is juxtaposed with his kind and understated demeanor in his town. The film hopes to show that this "killer" can dwell within anyone, that a person's outside appearance does not dictate the manner in which he may act in other settings. Crudely put, the film emphasizes that we cannot judge a book by its cover. However, the way in which the violence is presented does not further this theme. The camera lingers on the gruesome abuse for extended periods. I didn't think Pulp Fiction was too violent; nor did I think that The Departed was too violent. However, and I say this with complete conviction, The Killer Inside Me is too violent. The moments of violence are relatively short but they are shown with such realism that it is nearly nauseating to watch. It seems like Winterbottom is daring the audience to turn away. As a man I felt the duration and brutality of the violence against women to be borderline misogynistic. If the violence is not enough, the twist ending, which left a bitter taste in my mouth, seems to add more credence to the misogyny argument. I cannot imagine a woman that will be able to enjoy this film.

    I wanted to enjoy this film, I really did, but upon leaving the theater I was happy that it was over. Shot with an honesty that reflects its period, the muted colors serve as an additional commentary on the main character himself. Affleck becomes Lou Ford and depicts his descent into psychosis believably, sucking the viewer into his troubling world. Despite its accomplishments, the films depiction of violence against women is shot in a way that will leave the viewer cringing and ultimately does more harm than good. The Killer Inside Me has the rumblings of a good film that are overshadowed by brutal and unnecessary violence.

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