Movie Review: The Killer Inside Me (2010)
The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Director: Michael Winterbottom
Cast: Casey Affleck, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba
Synopsis: The bland mask of a small-town sheriff begins to slip, revealing the psychotic killer beneath.
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Lou Ford’s sudden violent turn in the original film (in which Stacy Keach played the small-town sheriff) worked because, while it was unexpected, it was never unbelievable. The revelation absolutely commanded your attention for the rest of the film, and turned your preconceptions of his character on its head. Here, we have a 21st Century re-make that not only makes a complete mess of the story, but also manages to alienate a large chunk of its audience thanks to some sickeningly graphic violence against women.
Casey Affleck (Out of the Furnace, Interstellar) plays Lou Ford, an apparently affable lawman whose amiable front masks the mind of a sadistic killer. When a local bigwig (Ned Beatty – Deliverance, Rampart) asks him to run the prostitute (Jessica Alba – Barely Lethal, Mechanic Resurrection) that his son has been seeing out of town, Ford sees a way of getting revenge over the death of his brother six years earlier. Beatty’s cost-cutting was responsible for Ford’s brother’s death on a construction site, and Ford has quietly been harbouring a grudge ever since. The plot involves him killing both the prostitute and the bigwig’s son and making it look like they killed each other.
Jim Thompson’s novel has all the ingredients necessary for a compelling tale of murder and madness, but this film version seems to stomp all over it, destroying any subtlety or finesse in favour of grabbing the audience’s attention by metaphorically punching it in the face. The lengthy beating Lou Ford delivers to Alba’s hapless prostitute is as explicit and sickening as anything previously seen in a mainstream film. We repeatedly see him punching her in the face, and each time her face is left a little more shattered, her nose broken to a pulp, left eye swollen grotesquely. It’s difficult to see what director Michael Winterbottom was trying to achieve by subjecting Alba’s character (and the audience) to such a prolonged and brutal assault. Whatever it was, he should have known that he would fail: after the beating administered by Ford we’re not left sickened by his character, but by the clueless director who felt this sequence would add anything worthwhile to his movie.
Ford’s at it again, later in the film when he decides he must kill his fiancée (Kate Hudson – Nine, Deepwater Horizon) in order to get a blackmailer off his back. It’s not quite as explicit this time, but the camera lingers over Hudson’s character’s brutalised and humiliated body with disturbing relish. Perhaps Winterbottom felt he needed to shock the audience to retain their focus, because there isn’t much else to keep our attention. Affleck puts in a compelling performance, his clean-cut looks disguising the monster that lurks within, but that aside, all that The Killer Inside Me manages to achieve is to show how easy it is to turn a good movie bad…
(Reviewed 30th November 2011)