The Killer Inside Me is a 2010 suspense film from director Michael Winterbottom. It is based off of the 1952 novel by Jim Thompson. The film stars Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Elias Koteas, Simon Baker, Liam Aiken and Bill Pullman.
Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and released through IFC, the film begins with a warning that what audiences are about to witness includes extreme graphic violence and sexuality… And rightfully so.
The story is about Lou Ford, a seemingly good-mannered cop who’s character unravels as he begins to commit a series of murders. Through some often-indecipherable flashbacks, we see that Lou has a troubled past, and much of these events haunt him to the extent of influencing his inevitable, destructible behavior in the future.
Many praised this film for being right on target in terms of following Thompson’s original work, including it’s brutality. Probably the most violent scene comes in the first half of the film, when Affleck’s character unexpectedly begins slapping, and then mercilessly pulverizing Alba’s character. We immediately see that Lou shows no mercy for women, and in fact he derives more pleasure from beating and killing women than he does men.
Although the scene was difficult to watch, and probably resulted in some people leaving the theater, with the initial warning of graphic violence, I wouldn’t have expected anything less in terms of chilling visuals. Affleck at first seemed too gentle to portray a killer, but once he began showing his murderous tendencies, I felt that he was properly cast in this role.
While surely the director wanted to stick to the book’s plot, I was interested to find out more about the other characters, notably Alba’s character Joyce. From the get-go, Joyce is given clear-cut signs that Lou is a sadist. However, her attraction is fueled by the fact that she’s indeed a masochist. Still, when Lou continuously beats her, she has several opportunities to fight back, but she takes the beatings without even flinching. In this sense, we almost feel for Lou, who seems to be acting purely on impulses that were distilled in him as a child. We recognize that his sanity is merely a façade, and we want his character to reveal himself fully, even if it’s through guiltless killings.
Overall, this film is not for the faint of heart, although I have seen more graphic films than this (such as Gasper Noe’s Irreversible.) I thought the cast worked surprisingly well together, and it was refreshing to see a brunette Hudson take on a role that wasn’t a cookie-cutter romantic comedy.