The Killer Inside Me (2010)

The Killer Inside Me (2010) – Stanley Kubrick called Jim Thompson’s novel The Killer Inside Me one of the most disturbing portrayals of the psychopathic mind he had ever seen. I have not read that book, but now that I have seen Michael Winterbottom’s film adaptation, I cannot imagine that Stan was that far off. I don’t have the intense dislike of Ben Affleck that some people do following his overexposure in the 2000s, but I think the evidence has been pretty firmly established that his younger brother Casey is the better actor in the Affleck family. He gives an intense and haunting performance that proves his turns in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and brother Ben’s Gone Baby Gone were not flukes.

Casey Affleck is all smiles and manners as Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford. He explains in voice over that in the small town in west Texas he lives in that “if you’re not a gentleman you’re nothing at all.” He also explains that “the problem with growing up in a small town is everyone thinks they know you.” No one knows about Lou’s streak of sadism. No one until it comes out while intimidating local prostitute Joyce (Jessica Alba). This sets off a chain of events involving local millionaire Chester Conway (Ned Beatty). Of course other people are dragged into this unfortunate series of events like Lou’s girlfriend (Kate Hudson), the sheriff (Tom Bower), a union organizer (Elias Koteas), the district attorney (Simon Baker), a defense attorney (Bill Pullman), and a local teenager (Liam Aiken). No one emerges unscathed.

The main strength of The Killer Inside Me is the characterization and Affleck’s lead performance. Everyone does their roles justice, even Alba and Hudson both of whom are known for less… demanding movies. Michael Winterbottom is a director who deserves more attention than he gets. I’ve only seen a couple of his movies (24 Hour Party People and Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story are both great) but he does interesting work worth checking out. The Killer Inside Me was previously adapted to film in the 1970s with Stacey Keach but I can’t imagine it was done this well. This is an intensely disturbing movie (containing Oedipal sadomasochism, which can be somewhat off-putting to some) but it is well worth checking out.

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