For The Killer Inside Me director Michael Winterbottom ( Road to Guantanamo, 24 Hour Party People) adapts Jim Thompson's 1952 novel to the screen in a terrifying and violent roller coaster ride. Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford, the quiet, soft spoken deputy sheriff of a Texas town. As the film unfolds we discover he is also a violent psychopath who leaves a trail of bodies in his wake, including those of his lover played by Jessica Alba and his fiancee Kate Hudson.
It is not the serial killer subject matter which makes this film so shocking. But shocking it is!!!! (You only have to look at the reviews online to see how divided people are about this film). Let's face it though, there are serial killer stories in abundance on television and film these days. It is Michael Wintterbottom's uncompromising depiction of the violence that really unsettles. We see Alba's character beaten to a bloody pulp by Lou Ford and when many other director's would move away, cut earlier, focus on something else in the room, Michael forces you to watch it all.
In an interview with Casey Affleck (in the Sydney Morning Herald) he is quoted as saying that Michael Winterbottom was interested in showing the ugliness of violence, to a world which seems so sanitised to it. And for most of the film he achieves this. Until the ending, which left me feeling confused and even a bit cheated. Without wanting to give away the end, Winterbottom's message gets blurred here and appears to suggest that violence is sexy and acceptable after all. Perhaps even that violence will win in the end?
This is a very difficult film and I actually can't bring myself to recommend it, despite the excellent acting and slick production values. The brilliant opening credits and music, for instance, are sexy and upbeat lulling us into a false sense security and then slapping us in the face with the reality.
It is poignant to note that Cassey Affleck also said (in the afore mentioned interview) that his wife was very upset by the message of the film. He wouldn't relate what she actually said, but the sentiment is rather telling.