The Killer Inside Me

Michael Winterbottom returns to the small screen after the cinematic release of his deeply disturbing thriller The Killer Inside Me, based on the equally disturbing novel by Jim Thompson. The premise is simple (in a psychotic killer sort of way). A junior Sheriff commits a murder and spends the rest of the film killing other people to cover up for the first murder. Oh, and has lots of psycho sexual experiences in the meantime.

The first thing that most evaluation of the film has discussed is the violence, which as almost always been described as shocking. And it is. However the violence doesn’t become blood curdling until later on, when the violence becomes more gratuitous and less easy to justify. One of the final scenes where the Sheriff’s victim lies in a pool of their own urine is hard to watch, even if you’re not in the least bit squeamish. We do see this sort of violence in other films, and most of the reason it’s so shocking is because it’s a guy beating a girl. But even without the gender divide the senselessness of the violent outbursts makes for very difficult viewing.

That’s not to say it’s bad. Casey Affleck puts in an excellent performance as Lou Ford, the killer of the title. The recent sexual harassment lawsuit filed against Affleck might raise some eyebrows during his scarily convincing portrait of a psycho maniac on a rampage, but all the same, it’s potent stuff. Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson are equally effective as the women who fall on both the good and bad side of the junior Sheriff, but these women’s devotion to their oppressor is never fully conveyed. Perhaps this is the films greatest weakness, a failure to truly convince the viewer that the characters are involved in the events that are going on around them.

But what is brilliant about the film is the way that it is shot. Winterbottom coats each scene with dollops of nourish finesse. It’s been a long time since a film about psychosexual violence has looked this good. The attractive cast is beautifully shot and this makes each scene where someone isn’t having their faced smashed in a joy to watch. These scenes are also wonderful for their careful observation of a man wracked by the pressure of suspicion and his own insanity.

Special Features: Some cast interviews that are so poorly put together they look like they’ve been made by a seven year old kid with access to Windows Movie Maker and the world’s worst microphone. There is, however, an interesting behind the scenes documentary that takes a very honest look at the way that the film was made.

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