Review: ‘The Killer Inside Me’

Thursday, June 17 by

The Killer Inside Me
R, 108min., 2010
Cast: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Simon Baker, Elias Koteas, Ned Betty, and Bill Pullman
Directed by Micheal Winterbottom
Screenplay by John Curran based upon the novel by Jim Thompson
The Killer Inside Me is a faithfully adapted, dark, and twisted gem of an exercise in B-movie noir.
From the faded pop color opening credit sequence, director Michael Winterbottom and his perfectly suited cast takes us back to 1950s West Texas, where Central City, Sheriff Deputy Lou Ford (played by Casey Affleck, giving one of his finest and scariest performances to date) doesn’t carry a gun and ‘sweet talks’ his way out of any bad problems. Well, that’s what Lou wants you to believe as behind his earnest smile he is one of the most disturbed and violently psychological complex characters this side of the Rio Grande.


As with Jim Thompson’s acclaimed pulp novel, where we meet the local sweaty and steamy towns folk of Central City, like the two gorgeous women in Lou’s life, sexy prostitute Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) and sweet school teacher Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson), the local union boss Joe Rothman (Elias Koteas), District Attorney Howard Hendricks (Simon Baker), and real estate tycoon Chester Conway (the always reliable hog in a hat, Ned Betty).
In another 50s noir, these characters would be the villains or the femme fatales, yet here they are as crooked as they come, but are tainted victims of Lou’s violent outbursts and diabolic schemes. When a character is hit or shot we feel their pain and see their suffering on screen in moments containing some of the most brutal violence in recent screen memory.
However, this film is not another excise in torture porn. Director Winterbottom and screenwriter John Curran should be championed for bringing their visually precise adaptation of Thompson’s writing. Here all of Thompson’s sex, dry commentary, and sadistic violence is brought to the screen with such a fine scope that we are reliving the macabre humor and horror of these hardboiled characters.
Still, we feel for them as they lay batter and bloodied on screen; Affleck’s long drawl voice festers under your skin leaving you with almost hypnotic trance for a guy, who beats Alba’s screen angel presence into a one-punch, two-punch, several-punches makeover and turns on sweet Hudson in a moment of shocking masochistic violence. Affleck plays all of his acting cards right on point with his leading ladies, from loving them in his own twisted tender way – he likes to spank his women really hard with his leather pressed belt – to his striking manic acts of violence. This is a performance from Affleck not to be missed.
As the film builds to the blazing inferno of a climax, we’re given another key character performance by Bill Pullman as a slick union lawyer Billy Boy Walker, a character Lou finds to be a priest of some sort, confessing all of his past sins, before finding himself in a ring of fire. The scene between Affleck and Pullman has real moments of actor chewing quality that it  makes the film an ever valued time capsule of grit and sweat in 50s noir movies.
While The Killer Inside Me may be rooted in the pulp novels and B-movie film noir of the 1950s, this piece is by far one hell of a film ride into the dark nature of humans and their primal feelings.
Grade: A-

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