Saturday, October 30, 2010

626 - The Killer Inside Me (2010) review

Destined to go down in film canon as the film where Casey Affleck slowly mashes Jessica Alba’s face into a pulp*, the second adaptation of pulp writer Jim Thompson’s novel gets one detail chillingly correct: the values of a psychopath. Lou, Affleck’s seemingly mild-mannered sheriff’s deputy in 50’s Texas, is one of the more accurately realized psychos put to screen, a combination of charm and insidiousness that feels naturally benign as he spouts off banal platitudes one moment and appropriately vicious the next as he murders a loved one. Watch how he blames a blackmailer for the murder of someone he committed; to the psycho, nothing’s his fault, and everyone’s as disposable as Kleenex.

That said, director Michael Winterbottom’s pacing and story construction is all off, with characters and details flying about practically at random, with the motivations of the moment just plucked out of the air as the plot requires. As if that weren’t difficult enough, its strength in recognizing the behavior of a psychopath is a double-edged sword, since we’re then left with nothing to grab onto. Remember how in Hitchcock’s “Frenzy” we allowed ourselves to want that serial killer to escape, just for a moment? That’s amazing direction, and we’ve nothing like that here.

2 out of 5

*Alternatively, it could go down as the job Casey Affleck took to finance his hijinks with Joaquin Phoenix.

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