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Overall Rating

Awesome: 28.57%
Worth A Look: 0%
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Pretty Bad66.67%
Total Crap: 4.76%

3 reviews, 3 user ratings

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Killer Inside Me, The
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by Jay Seaver

"Nasty, but excellent."
5 stars

SCREENED AT INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL BOSTON 2010: "The Killer Inside Me" is getting a certain amount of notice for its violence, which is a little surprising to me, in a strict "well, I've seen worse" sense. But I suspect the filmmakers will be fine with that. It gets people talking about their movie and maybe buying a ticket. It's a little unfortunate that saying Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, and Kate Hudson turn in better work than many think them capable of won't get people into theaters, but that one beats the crap out of the others will, but it's also nice to know that cinematic violence can still shock people.

Affleck plays Lou Ford, a county sheriff's deputy whose office covers a lot of ground in west Texas. He's seeing a sweet young waitress, Amy (Kate Hudson), people seem fond of him despite that trouble with his foster brother, and both the local labor union's lawyer, Joe Rothman (Elias Koteas), and the area's most prominent businessman, Chester Conway (Ned Beatty), can count on him to bend the law so that everything runs smoothly. The sheriff has had him scope out Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), a single young woman supporting herself well with no source of income but her body, and then Conway engages him to be the go-between between him and her. It seems that Joyce is blackmailing Conway's son Elmer (Jay R. Ferguson), and what the Conways don't know is that Lou and Joyce have started a twisted relationship of their own. When things go wrong, Lou's attempts to remove himself from suspicion threaten to bring his violent nature into public view.

Lou is our narrator, and both in voice-over and on-camera, Affleck nails a sort of casual monstrousness. His voice breaks in a certain way that makes him sound almost frail, a humble country boy respecting his neighbors and betters, at least without context. Once one gets a peek at what he's capable of, it's something different, flat, without empathy, good manners covering for his sociopathy. There's a cunning intelligence to Lou Ford, but not quite so much as he thinks, and Affleck gives us just the right impression of him - mostly dead inside, but with just the right amount of contempt for his pursuers and arrogance that it will take the rest of the characters a little while to see his true nature.

The women in the cast come off poorly, but in a different way - after all, what sort of girl would be attracted to this man, especially since his demons come out to play in the bedroom? It's a little jarring that we don't see any women unwilling to put up with Lou's abuse, but the film is told from his point of view, and these are the women he chooses to spend time with. As much as these ladies are far from role models, they are interesting to watch. It's easy to joke about Jessica Alba fitting Joyce perfectly - the character is something of an empty vessel, all sex, numb to show of affection not including pain - but it's easily the best she's ever been on-screen, wounded, devious, and childish at once. On the other side, there's Kate Hudson, making Amy sweet and meek and probably not aware of what sort of person Lou is until she can't easily back out of it. It's likely the best she's been since Almost Famous.

The rest of the cast is impressive, too - Ned Beatty and Elias Koteas as the powerful folks pulling Ford in separate directions, Simon Baker as the investigator who may be a match for him, Brent Briscoe as the bum who tries to shake him down, Liam Aiken as the troubled kid he's looking out for. Maybe the best is Tom Bower, the elderly sheriff whose heart seems to sink a little bit with every strange move on Lou's part.

Director Michael Winterbottom does an excellent job of building an atmosphere of doom. His adaptation of Jim Thompson's novel is never about creating sympathy for Ford, and even when he's showing scenes in flashback that might explain some of how Lou Ford became the the person he did, it only goes so far. He also makes the violence Ford commits legitimately disturbing - although only one or two scenes show the sort of blood and mutilation we take for granted in horror movies, there's a rapid decisiveness to these moments that reminds us just how badly a man can injure a woman if he wants to.

The film does weaken a bit at the very end - the filmmakers lay some cards on the table that imply a certain amount of negligence, at the very least, and the climax is bombastic in a way that the rest of the movie studiously avoids - although in retrospect, there may be an unreliable narrator at work there. Measured against all that the film does extremely well up until then, it's a minor complaint, and is of a piece with the exquisite darkness that came before.

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originally posted: 05/12/10 00:00:26
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2010 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: Independent Film Festival Boston 2010 For more in the Independent Film Festival Boston 2010 series, click here.

User Comments

10/16/10 mr.mike It was dreadful. 1 stars
9/06/10 actiion movie fan slow dull tale could have been much better 2 stars
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  18-Jun-2010 (R)
  DVD: 28-Sep-2010


  DVD: 28-Sep-2010

Directed by
  Michael Winterbottom

Written by
  John Curran

  Casey Affleck
  Kate Hudson
  Jessica Alba
  Simon Baker
  Elias Koteas

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