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Sundance: ‘The Killer Inside Me’ a dark psycho-thriller

February 3rd, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Chris Romriell

PARK CITY–The Killer Inside Me, which screened as Sundance ended last weekend, is a graphic, disturbing, sexually charged and brutally vicious Western thriller that follows the life of severely troubled West Texas deputy sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck.)

Based on the crime novel by Jim Thompson, director Michael Winterbottom does everything possible to make viewers uncomfortable. Affleck’s performance is brilliant but shocking. Those accustomed to his memorable role in Ocean’s Eleven are in for a surprise.

The film starts as Ford is assigned to run Joyce (Jessica Alba), a young prostitute, out of the city. The progression from there was hard to wrap my mind around. When Ford arrives with the news that Joyce must leave town, she starts slapping him. Ford holds Joyce down and whips her with his belt, and then the two have sex. Now this all makes some sense later on in the film, but right off the bat, my mind was churning to keep up.

Throughout the movie, nothing is what it seems, and every word that comes out of Ford’s mouth is a lie. The lies become more twisted and tangled throughout, and even Ford’s own internal narrative that is heard throughout the film becomes lies to himself. As bodies pile up, the deputy increasingly loses touch with reality.

The film has been surrounded by controversy because of several scenes that portray savage beatings. Although the audience cringed numerous times throughout the screening, it wasn’t really the punches that really got my stomach turning, but Ford’s frozen smile. “I love you, I’m sorry,” Ford says as he brutally strikes his victim. Maybe I’m desensitized to screen violence, but it wasn’t the beatings themselves that bothered me, but watching him smile, enjoy, and take pleasure in the brutality.

Simon Baker rounds out an excellent supporting cast including Bill Pullman, Kate Hudson, Elias Koteas, and Ned Beatty, all of whom help drive the film despite limited camera time. With a script that is irritatingly hard to follow, and Southern accents at their sharpest, this cast made the film memorable.

A twist that was fairly easy to recognize comes in the last minute of the film, along with a single comedic line that concludes one of the darkest films I have seen.

The strong, graphic violence makes The Killer Inside Me hard to watch, and it’s easy to see why it aroused so much controversy. I recommend it, however, but with caution. “The Killer Inside Me” is definitely not for everyone, but it has surely carved its own niche into the psycho-thriller genre.

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