The Killer Inside Me
There has been a lot of hype about The Killer Inside Me since its debut at Sundance earlier this year. Oddly, there wasn’t much talk in regards to the actual quality of the film itself, but rather about the amount of violence against women the movie contained. There were even conflicting reports as to whether film co-star Jessica Alba walked out of the premiere for this reason. Regardless, the film’s cast (although Alba seemed like an odd fit) was strong enough to warrant interest; Casey Affleck as Lou Ford, the film’s main character; Kate Hudson as Amy Stanton, his girlfriend; Alba as Joyce, the prostitute that Ford becomes infatuated by.
In fact, the movie’s strength is its acting. It is Affleck’s movie, and he knows it. He is superb, and frighteningly convincing as the sociopathic Ford. If it wasn’t for the film’s content, he could probably challenge for some awards come January. Both Alba and Hudson play their parts well, providing the perfect representation for both of Ford’s personalities – personalities that are often contrasted and compared one scene after the other.
Quickly, to get it out of the way: yes, the movie is violent, but there are far more violent and disturbing movies. The issue is that the violence feels real; you feel every punch. You also can’t help but feel is the realism is used as more of a gimmick than anything else.
The first act is strong, setting up a small town, desert aesthetic. It is quite haunting when you are anticipating a violent outburst at any point. There is a real emphasis on etiquette. For example, the way in which you are supposed to speak about someone else’s lady or mother is given special mention, providing a strong shift in mood once the violence happens. It feels as if the film tries to show this for dramatic contrast, but instead it feels predictable.
The second act is where the film really starts to flatline. The movie starts to get wrapped up in Affleck’s narration; initially it provides interesting insight into his justification for violence and his behaviour, but then it starts to become a boring tool for the film to continue on without showing anything (other than violence). Show, don’t tell, right?
The third act is by far the strongest. This is where Ford’s sanity is actually brought up for discussion, which is the most interesting facet of the story. His mentality is summed up in one quaint sentence: “you can’t hurt somebody who’s already dead”. This, after the film’s best scene – an understated sequence in the mental ward, in which Ford asks the nurse “will they playing the pictures again tonight?”. It is beautifully done, and almost redeems the second act.
It is difficult for a film to stand up to any kind of hype that it has received. Still, looking past that, The Killer Inside Me fumbles through storytelling during the most crucial part of the movie, relying on a strong ending to clean up its mess. Ultimately, The Killer Inside Me is a film that makes you really want to read the book. Which, in this case, isn’t a good thing.
One foot on both sides of the fence.