The Killer Inside Me (4 stars)

The Killer Inside Me

(18) 109min

Utilising Jim Thompson’s controversial pulp novel, workaholic filmmaker Michael Winterbottom explodes the myth that the 1950s was a time of innocence. The jaunty music on the credit sequence is more suggestive of family television than a violent noir. Yet just as quickly as Winterbottom sets the light-hearted mood he takes an axe to it. The only innocence on show from here on in is that demonstrated by the population of the small dusty West Texas town who choose to ignore the brutality that underpins their community.

Central to the action is Casey Affleck (fantastic); his Lou Ford is a pretty hometown boy who has become the local deputy sheriff. Seemingly a contemplative cowboy, he is sent to the outskirts of town to run off a prostitute, but nothing is quite as it seems. As is the way of this kind of modern western the archetypes come thick and fast, Jessica Alba plays hardball as the said sinful lady, Ned Beatty is the manipulative business tycoon, Elias Koteas the corrupt man of the people and Kate Hudson is the town sweetheart.

As his previous films, most noticeably Code 46 and 9 Songs have shown us, Winterbottom has a penchant for reconfiguring genres while accessing a range of bold and frequently austere influences. Here he does the business on the western, bringing to bear the less savoury aspects of the work of Sam Peckinpah (the disaffecting sweep of violence and misogyny) aligned with the direct and blunt perversions of John McNaughton’s Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer (and the many films it spawned). Ultimately, however, Winterbottom is all about commentary and debate and this vicious character study attempts to strip away the fable of the American dream and expose the lust for power, corruption, material desire and defunct morality that lies beneath. Fascinating, but not for the squeamish.

General release from Fri 4 Jun.


The Killer Inside Me

  • 4 stars
  • 2010
  • US
  • 1h 49min
  • 18
  • Directed by: Michael Winterbottom
  • Cast: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Bill Pullman

With this vicious character study of a seemingly contemplative cowboy (Affleck) who is sent to the outskirts of town to run off a prostitute, Winterbottom utilises Jim Thompson's controversial pulp novel to explode the myth that the 1950s was a time of innocence. Fascinating, but not for the squeamish.