Review: THE KILLER INSIDE ME – We Are Movie Geeks

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Based on the pulp novel of the same name by Jim Thompson, this film follows West Texas deputy sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) as he somewhat abruptly succumbs to the sociopathic tendencies that apparently have troubled him since childhood.  I suppose I could elaborate a little more on the finer points of the plot, but honestly, there isn’t much else to it.  While I have not read the source material for the film, I would expect that the plot was full of twists and surprises, lots of sex and violence, and at least a modicum of moral anguish from the central character as he spirals out of control.  If any of those things were executed well in the book, they were poorly adapted on-screen.

The opening scenes show a seemingly-upstanding Ford commence a violent affair with Joyce (Jessica Alba), a prostitute whom Ford eventually agrees to help in a blackmail scheme against a man that Ford claims as a friend.  As this early twist proceeds, we see pieces of Ford’s past and learn why he would agree to something that initially seems so out out of character for him.  After the scheme is played out, the rest of the movie is focused on Ford’s attempts to escape the ramifications of his actions.  In a better written movie, it would seem like Ford was caught in a web of his own deceit, but here it seems more like a linear path of predictable obstacles and even more predictable solutions.  There are subplots involving Ford’s dead half-brother, a union boss and the District Attorney (both of whom may or may not be wise to Ford’s crimes), and flashbacks of Ford’s mother, who apparently is to blame for his currently unbalanced mental state.  Ultimately, none of these stories are very well explained or resolved.

The tone of the movie certainly has the darkness you would expect from a pulp film, perhaps a little too much.  The sex scenes are graphic and the violence is not shied away from, but both elements are overplayed and seem less like necessities and more like distractions from an otherwise empty plot.

The one compelling element of the film was Casey Affleck.  I may catch some flak for this, but I thought his performance was quite good considering how little help he had in the script.  His quiet, high-pitched voice and polite demeanor are stark contrasts to the acts of gruesome violence he perpetrates.  Kate Hudson also shines as Ford’s smart, gritty, and long-suffering girlfriend Amy Stanton.  Jessica Alba, however, is vapid and unbelievable as the scheming prostitute, Joyce.

This film is certainly engrossing, but in all the wrong ways.  The plot is confusing, the tone is unsettling and awkward, and even the better actors’ performances are stunted by a clunky script.

Overall Rating: 2 out of 5 stars