Killer Inside Me
I had tickets to Killer Inside Me long before all this crazy media attention it’s gotten over the past few days. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what it was about when I made the purchase. I just decided to tag along with my brother-in-law when he announced he was going. Since the premiere, there’s been all sorts of stuff going around about the violence in it. There’s this article from NYDailyNews.com, which clearly insinuates that Jessica Alba herself was so offended by the violence, she walked out during the premiere. Or there’s this recording of an angry audience, specifically an angry woman, during an Q&A, demanding, of director Michael Winterbottom to know ‘who’s responsible for this?’ Geez! You’d think these people have never been to a film festival before. And you know for certain they’ve never seen something like Antichrist, or even one of the Saw movies, or Lust, Caution, or Nurse Betty, or anything David Cronenberg has ever done. I will say now that yes, there’s violence. One specific scene shows Alba being beaten for literally several minutes. But on the grand scale of violent movies that have received an R rating, this is not one of the worst offenders. And without being a communist, I would say that I mildly agree with Han Suyin when she said, ‘moralists have no place in an art gallery.’ Or an arthouse theatre.
The story comes from a pulp fiction novel from the 50s, by author Jim Thompson, and Winterbottom adapted it for the screen. It centers around Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), a young sheriff in west Texas. He’s called to run a prostitute named Joyce (Alba) out of town, but he falls in love with her. Love is probably too strong a word here, since it becomes slowly clear that Lou is a psychopath. He’s also sleeping with his high school sweetheart Amy (Kate Hudson). Sex with the two women is rough and sadistic, and frequently enjoys ritual spanking. There’s a grand, complicated story that explains what his motives are, but he ends up killing Joyce and another man, and framing them for it. He gets deeper and deeper, and he has to keep working harder to keep himself in the clear.
The film is almost entirely character driven, so it’s fortunate that they are written so well (there’s all sorts of fantastic peripheral characters acted by Elias Koteas, Ned Betty, Simon Baker, Bill Pullman, and more). All the acting is great, especially Affleck, and even, surprisingly, Ms. Hudson. Anyone who watches this, and think that this is an endorsement to act violently, is ridiculous, because all of the characters are damaged, unhinged souls with no basic barometer of right and wrong. Winterbottom (and perhaps the source material, I’m not sure), was smart enough not to ask the audience to put their sympathies with Lou. He’s insane, dangerous, and unworthy of any sort of mercy. The full horror of his acts are on display, and it’s hard to stomach. The most disturbing scene of all comes after he’s beaten Amy to a point she’s unable to control her bodily functions (it seems Kate Hudson is frantically trying to get us all to forget Fool’s Gold). The plot is complex, and quickly paced, and if you can handle the violence, it’s entertaining from beginning to end. And, while saying this sometimes makes people dubious, the ending is sufficiently shocking to leave you a little speechless as you leave.