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Monday, June 21, 2010

The Killer Inside Me (2010) - Thriller, Noir

The Killer Inside Me (2010) - I am not a writer, and really only do this log to remind myself of the films I see. This is a problem when a movie is good enough that it deserves a proper review that I fear I do not have the skill to give. "The Killer Inside Me" is one such film. A thriller noir that takes you inside the head of Deputy Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), a sociopath murderer who spirals out of control. Ford works and lives in a small Texas town in what appears to be the 1940s. We learn through his behavior that he is a control freak who gets off on hitting and fucking, mostly at the same time. His need is to dominate women, slapping and spanking them. Through flashbacks we learn his mother introduced him to this behavior and the Oedipus like relationship screwed young Lou up. When he is sent out to check on a prostitute Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) who moved into town. A mutually satisfying violent begins. Alba as Joyce seethes sexuality and they continue to have a relationship through montage of sexual encounters and after these she seems to truly love Lou. The only issue I have with this casting decision and this may not be valid for me to say but isn't Jessica Alba way too beautiful to be a small town prostitute. I don't really visualize really pretty women as needing to prostitute themselves. They would more likely be married before needing to do that. The small town plot she is caught up in, allows Lou to make a vicious plan to avenge is step brothers death. We learn his step brother died at a construction site but it had been set up by Real Estate big shot Chester Conway(Ned Beatty) and the town folk after step brother Mike served time for abusing a small girl. Through flashback we learn it was actually Lou who abused the girl. The plot can be a bit complicated and the writing in the screenplay is stark and tight. Director Michael Winterbottom and writer Jon Curren work with novelist Jim Thompson's work to give the audience just enough information without allowing for predictability. It is more than a murder mystery it is a character study of the sociopath Lou Ford, and we learn everything through his actions. It is designed this way and it works. Lou's plan starts with a way too realistic beating of Joyce. When he hits her the first time it is shocking, then even though very few blows are seen hitting her, four minutes later she is out on the floor a bloody pulp. It is a very disturbing scene with Lou saying he loves her the entire time, calmly smashing her face in. He then kills Chester Conway's son making it look like he beat the girl and then she shot him to death. Revenge accomplished. This is not the case though and because we are seeing the story through Lou's eyes we soon learn he did not think of everything either. Small details he missed come up leading Lou on a repeated cycle of killing to clean up loose ends. Unfortunately for him Lou is a one trick pony and soon it becomes apparent he will not get away with the crimes. When he kills his girlfriend Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson) to try to pin it on a vagrant (Brent Briscoe) who saw his first crime he has gone too far for the investigators to not suspect him of all the crimes.
He soon finds himself held in jail but it seems that the authorities even though they know he is the killer don't have enough evidence to convict. So they release him and drop him at his house and again the town folk will take care of their business their way. Lou knows this and for a climax creates a reception for when they arrive. There is a twist that I predicted early in the film but had forgotten about by the end. It shows the film pulled me in. When the climax comes it is a bit large for the character. Lou does more than his character had done to this point, it was a big finish. It could be that you see all the violent acts as growing in severity making the ending appropriate to where the character was at the end of the film.
The violence towards women as opposed to the men he killed took much more time on screen and was so fucking disturbing. I would complain that this was a bit misogynistic but it really does fit in with the Lou Ford character. It was well established through flashback to his Mother, Amy and Joyce that Lou relished dominating and hurting women, the sociopathic behavior to women fit his character. Still it is hard for the audience to tolerate. The men who are killed are done quick and efficiently but Lou takes his time with the women and it is hard to watch. Rating this film is difficult, it is so well done and accomplished freaking me out quite a bit, but it is a slow burn with many sexual oriented scenes that may have been a bit of overkill. Still a very solid plot and excellent acting even if the supporting cast was underdeveloped.
Rating (8.1)

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