Considering how many times this story, "The Killer Inside Me" based on a book by Jim Thompson from 1952, was supposed to be made into a film its amazing that this ever came to fruition. With one other film adaption already done, the 1970s version with Stacy Keach, its a surprise that this one didn't get booted again (after a slew of film makers and actors tried to get it done), but I'm glad it made it out. This slow burning pseudo-noir tale displays in a full an artistic sense of a rather simple Thriller like story. Although not perfect by any sense, what is given to us on "The Killer Inside Me" is damn riveting and pretty damn disturbing.
Lou Ford (Affleck, the Casey one!) seems to everyone to be that too nice small town Texas sheriff whose polite demeanor and soft spoken ways make him even too boring for town gossip. When he ends up getting into a relationship with the town whore Joyce (Alba) though, one begins to see a darker side of the sheriff. One of sadistic tendencies and sociopathic behaviors and one he has desperately tried to reign in since his was a child. After he beats Joyce nearly to death and shoots a rich construction worker's son and tries to make it look like they did it to one another, he finds the scrutiny of the law's eyes on him. Soon he has to find a way out and it may take a higher body count to do so.
To say that this film was slow burning might be an understatement. In fact, it was even hard for me at times not to let my mind wander too far off track when the sparse dialogue got to be hefty and the lack of excitement in plot movement got to me. The thing about all this slow moving atmosphere and long winded character scenes is that it fully pays off in two ways.
The first way is in Affleck's stunning and subtle performance as our lead. Although at times I wanted the script/director to dabble more into the deterioration of our character Ford as the struggle between the good man he wants to be and the sadistic killer he is starts to unbalance, Affleck's use of the rather skimpy use of dialogue and subtle moments of silence is astoundingly good. Not to mention he is backed by a rather talented cast of character actors with Koteas, Baker, and Pullman in a brief scene and the chemistry he has with Alba for her time on film is rather heavy and believable. Tee story might be basic and the script might be a bit light, but the astounding cast works it for all its magic.
The second thing that its slow burning pace embraces is the random spurts of disturbing violence. Although this controversial side of the film seemingly put many critics off (one critic said she had to leave cause she thought she would faint when Lou starts beating Joyce), but its almost unexpected suddenness and brash display of realistic brutality is a nice balance to the rather mundane feel of the rest of the film. Honestly, its pretty wicked violence and its seemingly focus on women (its a character thing for him to move that way towards women) brings on that controversial aspect. Whether one agrees with how its brought about, the balance between slow burn and the release of violence is pretty intense and worked for this viewer.
If there was any legit complaints I had about "The Killer Inside Me" it was its ending. Although the film progresses in some very interesting ways towards the end, I felt that the finale was a little emotionally detached in a few ways and in that sense didn't quite work for me. Although it made 'sense' it didn't quite feel right and it did hurt the overall experience of the film as it needed that ending to work.
"The Killer Inside Me" makes a solid show with its old school noir feel and stellar acting but flaws at times with its somewhat emotionally distant ending and rather slow burning moves that at times can be a little much. It works for the most part and the balance between violence and slow burning dialogue just sparked insane intensity and that's what made this film so riveting. Not a perfect film, but entertaining nonetheless.
Written By Matt Reifschneider
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