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Bob Doto [Celluloid 06.03.10] movie review thriller drama crime western

Year: 2010
Directors: Michael Winterbottom
Writers: Michael Winterbottom & John Curran & Jim Thompson (book)
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Bob Doto
Rating: 8.5 out of 10

Based on Jim Thompson's novel of the same name, THE KILLER INSIDE ME is an uncomfortably possible story that tells the tale of soft-spoken Texan police officer, Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), who, after meeting, being slapped by, and subsequently spanking and having sex with a prostitute named Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), allows his darkest of demons to run amok. Frigid hostility, demented wit, and relentless brutality, all make TKIM a film worth seeing, IF you can stomach it and are not completely turned off by male on female violence.

Let's just say I had to close my eyes and ears on a number of occasions just to make it through.

TKIM is a dark, neo-noir, period piece set in the early 1950s complete with police officers, ravishing damsels in distress, murder, mystery, and mayhem. The eeriness of the film comes not from midnight and devilry, however, but rather the opposite. TKIM is sunny, hot, humid, daylight. And, it is this brightness, this relentless sun, that makes TKIM so impossible at times to stomach. You see everything. Humanity is on display. And, because of this, everything that happens, every time Lou Ford interacts with another human being, you think to yourself, "Should I watch?"

Like the book, the the audience is thrown directly into the narrative discomfort. And, because the initial violence occurs so early on, and is at the same time horrible to be in the presence of, I, the viewer, had no idea where we would turn, and was thus left waiting, waiting, waiting, for what could possibly happen next. Was the first violent scene the "big event" of the film, where we would be allowed to simply reflect back upon it? Or, could things actually get worse? So, for me, TKIM is truly a suspense film, albeit one that uses only the most minimal of mediums: calm.

There is a placidness about TKIM. Even though it can be so hard to watch, Lou Ford's super comforting Texan-ness pulls you in. So much so, you have to wonder if you'd be able to spot his dark side before he set his sights on you. Because when he does.... I don't want to give too much away, but let's just say that when people get beat up to the point of just-pre-death, they linger on, twitching for dear life, while we, the audience, get to hear every last biological wince and wheeze. It's horrible. The viewer is spared very little, including some pretty intense sexual child abuse scenes.

And yet, we're still in a quiet Texan town, where not much happens. Cops don't carry guns and get free food from kind waitresses when finishing their pie. It's supposed to be cordial and idyllic. Sociopaths are supposed to exist only in our world, not in the perfect past, right? People aren't actually human with smells and flaws way back when, right?

Apparently, not so, for watching TKIM is like seeing something you know you shouldn't. It's as if we're seeing a piece of history with it's ass crack showing. For instance, When Lou's longtime, supposed to be quaint, girlfriend, Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson), starts to go down on Lou and comes up screaming that she knows he's been with someone else, because she can smell it, you definitely catch yourself wishing people "back then" didn't talk or think like that. But deep down inside you know they did, and thus you feel slightly violated, even if forced to grow up just a little bit.

So it goes that with every twist and turn TKIM takes a relentless approach to the viewer experience. There's no way out, and every nook and cranny has got a spider that calls it home.

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Bad JuJu (11 years ago) Reply

I'm excited. Absolutely loved the book.

Always pictured Lou as an older fellow. Interested to see how Casey does.


Rohow (11 years ago) Reply

I really didn't enjoy the film. The scene where he kills Jessica Alba's character is so overhyped. Anyone even slightly desensitized to violence wont find it as brutal as the media has made it out to be. It is grossly misogynist though, every female chracter is a masochist. There's far too many superfluous characters and the ending is just nonsense.


badabingbadaboom (11 years ago) Reply

Thompson's brilliant novel used metaphor and subtlety to depict both character and acts of violence. Rather than add anything to this story, Winterbottom has actually detracted from it. Well done genius! Anyway, the issue of our (the viewers) relationship/collusion with violence has been done before a million times better by Haneke, Noe et al.


Samet (11 years ago) Reply

It was the worst movie i have seen in 2010!!

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