Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Review: The Killer Inside Me (Michael Winterbottom, 2010)

This Michael Winterbottom film had a lot of promise, but received a lukewarm initial response. Premiering in Australia at the Sydney Film Festival (where I managed to see a screening), this brutal thriller certainly roused horrified emotions from its audience. Uncompromisingly violent and gratuitous, it is a startling representation of a psychotic Deputy Sheriff (Casey Affleck) who ventures into a killing spree in an attempt to cover his tracks after initially murdering a local construction executive he believes was responsible for his brothers death. He also brutally bashes Joyce (Jessica Alba), a local prostitute he had become intimate with and then double crosses. Possessing a sickness since he was young, Lou Ford once again becomes a threat to the community, succumbing to empowering urges to indulge in a sickening murder spree. Lou had once been responsible for the sexual abuse of a young girl, only evading arrest when his brother took the blame. When his brother is killed at a construction site years after his release, Lou is set for revenge believing he was murdered. It is when he begins a sadomasochistic relationship with Joyce that his urges are rekindled. He blackmails the executive, with the assistance of Joyce, and then savagely bashes her and shoots the man, making it appear to be a lovers quarrel. He creates an alibi, and frames others to take the fall for his actions, until he becomes increasingly desperate and must sacrifice his steady girlfriend, Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson) in his ploy.
Casey Affleck, who received an Academy Award nomination for his work in The Assassination of Jesse James, always gives a fine performance, and it is an appropriately savage portrayal. However, his support from both Alba and Hudson was not as strong. I thought the women really struggled, but this is partly because of my general qualms against Hudson. The pacing was achingly slow, only broken by the moments of extreme violence. The recycling of memories of his intimate moments with Alba’s character really got tiring to the point of being boring and did nothing other than to offer us a potential insight to feelings of guilt and regret, despite his inhumane actions. These flashbacks actually accounted for a large part of the running time, and I thought failed to offer anything at all.
I was under the impression that this would be a film about a serial killer, who abused his level of power (as a sheriff) to kill a series of innocent people within his town. Essentially, this is what the film comprises of, but it introduces a childhood experience to explain his urges and uses blackmail to explain his motive. After the initial killing, the rest of his behavior is just to cover his tracks, and he becomes less a sociopath, then a man desperate to evade arrest. But I also found his defense to be quite thin, and I found it difficult to believe that it took his colleagues as long as it did to prove that he was responsible. The support roles from Elias Koteas, and Simon Baker, were fairly average also. While their performances weren’t bad, the screenplay didn’t allow them much to work with. I also thought that many of the intricacies I assume to be present in the novel weren’t explained during the film, leaving the audience questioning many of the plot arcs. This didn't have the effect of forcing the viewer to deduce their own opinion, but left me puzzled and genuinely confused. Michael Winterbottom is not a novice when it comes to confronting cinema, but this was also unnecessarily gratuitous. I went in with quite high expectations and the early scenes were promising, but overall I felt like it fell very short of the mark.

My Rating: 3 Stars


  1. yeah nice review andy, and as you know i loved the film.

    i think the main flaw of the film though was the fact that winterbottom had read the book and made the movie so it would make more sense for people who had read the book. i read the book after and it made much more sense as a result. what he failed to capture was lou's mind, admittedly a difficult thing to do considering the limitations of a film compared to a novel. the flaw is obvious when you say "until he becomes increasingly desperate and must sacrifice his steady girlfriend, Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson) in his ploy." in the book he talks about how he always knew he had to kill amy and was always going to. and theres a great chapter near the end where he just explains himself in full and you get a great insight into his mind. i think thats where winterbottom failed hardest, in showing us lou's mind.

    and as for the poor supporting cast, well the book is about lou and lou only, you dont really get to know the others, so i disagree with you on the miscasting of the women part, they actually suited the roles quite well in my opinion.

    i recommend you read the book, it made me like the film even more, because you just get the film more, having all of the information. if you want i can lend it to you.

    It's nic from work by the way haha i just realised it will say annon

  2. You said it! I did like the performances a bit more than you, but really, this film just wasn't great.