Plot summary (from the studio): Based on the novel by legendary pulp writer Jim Thompson, Michael Winterbottom’s THE KILLER INSIDE ME tells the story of handsome, charming, unassuming small town sheriff’s deputy Lou Ford.
Lou has a bunch of problems. Woman problems. Law enforcement problems. An ever-growing pile of murder victims in his West Texas jurisdiction. And the fact he’s a sadist, a psychopath, a killer. Suspicion begins to fall on Lou, and it’s only a matter of time before he runs out of alibis. But in Thompson’s savage, bleak, blacker than noir universe nothing is ever what it seems, and it turns out that the investigators pursuing him might have a secret of their own.
Warning: Spoilers below!
- Casey Affleck’s performance was pretty good in this film. I’ve never really taken notice of his acting before, but obviously he was impossible to ignore here. His nice guy persona was believable, as he can definitely pull off the “aw, shucks” act. More importantly, I could still buy him going psycho on those women, too.
- The violence was incredibly graphic and over the top — unnecessarily so, IMO. The scenes of Lou beating Joyce and Amy to death seemed to last forever, which was hardly required to communicate to the viewer that the women did, indeed, die. What was that all about? Shock value?
- Granted, I might not have been paying close attention to the explanation, but the connection between Chester Conway and Lou’s brother’s death (the brother fell at one of Conway’s construction sites). Why did Lou think the accident was actually murder? What did Conway have against the brother?
- What was the purpose of killing Joyce in the first place? Was it just to get his hands on $10,000? Was it to exact revenge on Conway by killing his son (Elmer) too? It all seemed so flimsy.
- The pacing was way too slow in this film. I don’t mind this kind of slow, deliberate kind of storytelling–as long as there’s a worthwhile payoff at the end. That didn’t happen here.
- Speaking of the end, viewers seem to disagree about whether or not Joyce was actually alive or was just a product of Lou’s psychosis. I personally think it was his psychosis. I think his complete break with reality came when he was at the mental hospital and spoke to the nurse about wanting to see more films/pictures of Amy shown on his wall. The nurse just kind of smiled in a “I’m humoring a crazy person” way and left, which indicated to me that she had no idea what he was talking about. The boisterous lawyer was probably a hallucination as well, now that I think about it. (Edit: Apparently in the original book it’s quite clear that Lou is hallucinating Joyce at the end.)
The Killer Inside Me sounded good on paper (e.g. in the synopsis), but didn’t play well at all once it was on screen. Lou’s motive for killing Joyce ($10,000?) didn’t seem strong enough, and his subsequent choice to keep right on killing everyone in his way instead of leaving town didn’t make much sense. The slow pace and extreme violence didn’t help matters for me. I give this one 2 stars out of 5.