Sundance Film Festival Review: The Killer Inside Me

by Whitney Borup

killer inside me film

Your enjoyment of “The Killer Inside Me” will probably largely depend on whether or not you’ve read the book. Apparently, the book reveals character traits and intricacies of Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) that can only be understood in the film when you have that previous experience with the subject. I wouldn’t know, because I haven’t read it. And after seeing this film, I don’t know if I could stomach revisiting the narrative.

Lou Ford is, on the surface, an honest, hardworking, congenial Texan working for the Sheriff’s department. But underneath his public demeanor, Lou is a violent, kinky, misogynist, murderous bastard, just waiting for a chance to act out. That chance comes in the form of a prostitute (Jessica Alba) and one of her clients. In short, Ford beats the shit out of her, shoots him a few times, and spends the rest of the movie trying to cover it up by committing a few more murders.

Affleck is perfect for this role. His calm, boyish good looks create an ironic cover to the insanity lurking just under the surface. Occasionally he’ll break out a creepy, sadistic smile that reminds you just how awful a human being Lou Ford is. And then he beats the shit out of the women he loves.

90530x1 hudson b gr 02“The Killer Inside Me” is hard to watch. Not just because of the violence (which is appropriately realistic), but because of how muddled the narrative gets in a film oozing with style. From the opening titles, which scream film noir grind house flick, I wanted to love this film. The West Texas setting is bone-dry and unnerving, while the costumes are deliciously campy. But as the story gets under way, important character developments are lost in the confusion. Who is Lou Ford? What made him the way he is? The film, I think unintentionally, leaves a lot of questions unanswered.

And just when you think the film couldn’t get more confusing, Bill Pullman shows up as an outraged, tobacco-chewing lawyer with loads of metaphorical wisdom to impart.

As I said, I was ready to love this film. Affleck is one of my favorite actors, and I was excited to see Kate Hudson try something other than rom-com. Not to mention Michael Winterbottom, who excels in almost every diverse genre he attempts. Sadly, “The Killer Inside Me” seems unfinished, and despite the extreme violence and graphic sex: boring.

The Killer Inside Me

Directed: Michael Winterbottom
Written: Michael Winterbottom, John Curran, and Jim Thompson (novel)
Starring: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson

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