Films based on older books tend to be hit or miss for me sometimes. Unless you can be faithfully updated to today's times then sometimes you have to work with what you have and hope for the best. The Killer Inside Me is very much the 1950s and a lot of the films essence comes from it being a period piece. The original novel was such a great example of a much simpler time and that horrible things still happened then as they do now. It also was one of the best first person narratives involving a serial killer I have ever read. I would be willing to bet Dexter, The Shining and all of those books/films/shows took some influence from that novel.
The book also had a level of brutality that you don't see in other novels. A nihilistic, evil brutality that is as uncomfortable to read as it ends up being to watch. It's not Saw extravagant or Seed/Hostel methodical, it's just simple human brutality. And if you want to adapt the book correctly into a film then it becomes a hard film to sell. Many studios and many directors have tried to create this film but each having to drop out for different reasons.
Eventually though Michael Winterbottom was given the task of writing and directing the film along with John Curran. They had many actors in mind to play the different parts but eventually they settled on Casey Affleck as the lead and Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba as the love interests. And boy was the movie better for that. But I'll get to that shortly, first what is the film about?
The film is about Lou Ford, a small town sheriff who to everybody else seems like a great stand up guy whose a complete gentlemen to everybody he meets. He says yes sir and no sir and if you asked anybody they would say he is one of the greatest friends you could ever have. Lou is also stands up for what is right and values laws and rules. He doesn't tolerate cheaters and hates fake people. But Lou also has a sickness that eats away at him...he loves to beat and rape women. Why? Nobody knows and nobody will ever know. But sometimes if he is pushed hard enough or it becomes convenient to his own needs he will snap and start hitting.
Lou is currently working on a case involving a hooker who has been sleeping with the town, most notably the big bossman's son. The bossman, the cops, the union leader and practically everybody want Lou to handle the situation. But when Lou falls for the hooker and 10,000 dollars comes into play it becomes more "What does Lou want" and less "What does everybody else want?"
The acting is superb in this film, especially from lead Casey Affleck. He still looks and sounds 14 but he is a joy to watch. He embodies a killer and that dual personality that comes with it. You see remorse, no remorse and total apathy all within a matter of minutes. What makes Affleck great though is the way he works with the small. He is a very reserved character and he can get over all of his emotion with just a twitch of the lip, a blink of an eye or a stare off in the corner. He BECOMES Lou Ford and it is both brilliant and disturbing to see. All the other actors are good as well but are overshadowed by Affleck, which I think was the point. But they all do their job well and are all quite believable in their roles.
The writing, cinematography and costume/make-up design is also brilliant as well. The film feels like a half an hour when it's really an hour and 40. Some people may not like the slow pacing but it's written in such a way where slow works and really adds to the tension and the oncoming brutality. I have nothing bad to say about this movie.
It is a controversial film that will be hated by a lot of people. But the great writing and Affleck make this a film that I won't forget for a long time. A true contender for best film of the year.
MY VERDICT: TOP FILM