(Michael Winterbottom, 2010)
Mumble, mumble, murder. Mumble, mumble, murder.
Sex mixed with violence mixed with misogyny, like A Clockwork Orange set in West Texas. If you took Orange‘s Alex DeLarge, added a Stetson and subtracted the window to the main character’s soul, you’d get Lou Ford as portrayed by Casey Affleck. Given the notoriety of the source material, there’s really nothing new or memorable about this film, other than the cinematography of Marcel Zyskind and the disturbing acts of violence towards women. The Killer Inside Me seems a bit patched together, and overall, a missed opportunity for director Winterbottom.
I have not read the original Jim Thompson novel, but am familiar with his cold, sparse style showcased in other Thompson adaptations such as The Grifters and After Dark, My Sweet. I wonder if it’s fair to presume that the film misses the author’s mark. There’s a noted lack of noose-tightening as the lead character descends into doom, and Affleck seems unsure in his portrayal of such a complex criminal, and choosing to do so by alternately grinning warmly, bantering without moving his lips and stewing silently. The filmmakers certainly attempt to establish just why Affleck is so emotionally scarred, involving some creepy sexual discoveries, but ultimately, he isn’t nearly as diabolical as he should be. While Affleck’s violent actions are intentionally jolting, the film stays at the character’s surface rather than digging deeply into the coldness and randomness of the killing mind.
It’s probably unfair to expect The Killer Inside Me to resemble other fictions featuring serial killers, like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or American Psycho. Yet I can’t help but wish Winterbottom, et al, had come just a little closer to glimpsing the strength of those films in creating memorable characters as well as notorious acts of fury.