The Killer Inside Me
The story takes places in small town Texas, 1952. Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Affleck) is a pillar of the local community and trusted by the residents to help them with their troubles. But when Lou is called upon to diffuse a situation involving working girl, Joyce Lakeland (Alba), things go awry when Lou falls for the prostitute himself, despite his pre-existing relationship with local darling, Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson). As events unfold, a darker side to Lou begins to reveal itself. Having been encouraged during childhood to engage in erotic spanking, Lou has developed a certain addiction to violence. At first this situation doesn’t seem too bad, as it would seem that every woman Lou has ever met coincidentally rather enjoys having their arse slapped raw. It is only when it becomes clear that spanking alone can no longer satisfy Lou’s aggressive streak that matters take a turn for the worst. The results are not pretty.
Punching above its weight
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing here to rival Irreversible’s fire-extinguisher, nor the wine-bottle assault from Pan’s Labyrinth. The most off-putting factors here are not the injuries, but the choice of victim, young women, and the length of the scenes in question, which push far beyond the realms of shock and into the territory of “that’s quite enough now.” Of course, no film should contain violence simply for the sake of it and in showing these assaults in such detail Winterbottom may well be trying to capture what it is to absolutely demolish a life. It could almost be poetic were it not for the film’s complete lack of characterisation. Perhaps Joyce is supposed to be a tragic figure, but we certainly aren’t provided enough information by either the script or Alba’s performance to make such an assessment. Similarly, other than her misguided love of Lou, Hudson’s portrayal of Amy offers little to draw us in.
Twisted but tenuous
The script is similarly evasive when it comes to pinning down a reason behind Lou’s own actions. Was he simply born with an irrepressible urge to kill, à la Michael C. Hall in “Dexter” – one that was honed by the strange events of his childhood? Or is he a Patrick Bateman figure, a sort of Middle-American Psycho, emotionally numbed by a life in a dull and vapid society? The impression provided by the film, a sort of mixture of both options, ultimately proves to be far less interesting than either one and it is just this sort of failure to commit that makes up the film’s central problem. It simply cannot decide what it is trying to say. Is it poignant examination of a twisted mind? A treatise on the nature of violence? A dark comedy?! In the end, The Killer Inside Me fails to be any of these. It might well be “that film where Casey Affleck beats seven shades of blue out of Jessica Alba’s face”, but sadly, it is very little else.