While a director may profess to condemn rather than be consumed by the violence and torture that his movie is immersed in onscreen, sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference. Which in a film like Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me, tends to distract by putting the director under nearly as much suspicion as his intended villain. And the fact that two superstar sexpots like Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson have stepped up to the victim plate for a little celebrity bashing of a different kind, doesn’t help matters either.
A remake of the 1976 movie based on Jim Thompson’s pulp noir murder spree, The Killer Inside Me stars Casey Affleck as Lou Ford, a 1950s Texas small town deputy sheriff with a dark side. In an ongoing cat and mouse tease with the audience as much as with unbelievably clueless local authorities – so much so that you keep having an urge to get out of your seat and slap them around a bit till they get wise to the psycho – Ford insists from the start that he’s a southern gentleman, pure and simple, who favors begging your pardon before homicidally kicking your butt.
When Ford is stuck with an assignment to head over to the house of newly arrived hooker Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) and force her out of town, he ends up having hot sex with her instead. But not before beating her butt with his belt – which really gets her in the mood – a practice he apparently picked up from Mom as a boy, who relished his spankings. Though her inappropriately applied maternal instincts also led the kid to move on himself to a bit of pedophilia of his own, inflicted on a five year old, if not his outright future serial killer adult inclinations. Well, at least Winterbottom clears that matter up, that maniacs aren’t born but made by Mommy.
In between those S&M trysts with Lakeland involving belts as female neckties – and who seems to be her only customer around, Ford is also getting it on with his bubbly future bride, Amy (Kate Hudson). When not politely using the outstretched palm of a local beggar as his preferred ashtray, to stomp out his cigar with sadistic glee. And when this bad guy with good manners needs an alibi in a hurry to elude the suspicious in slow motion DA (Simon Baker), the repeatedly apologetic perp doesn’t think twice about dispatching either compliant honey to the afterlife as demented props in his highly creative crime scene scenarios.
As much The Kisser Inside Me as whatever else the title implies, the film endlessly alternates between scenes of raw sex and elaborate slaughter, that’s inflicted for the camera more on the incomprehensibly forgiving female than male victims. Which tends to eroticize the carnage in those too much information torture scenes, no matter what may have been on Winterbottom’s rather unfathomable mind.
Likewise not helping believability here, is the poor choice of stupor-inducing Casey Affleck as the baby faced bad guy. Who seems to struggle as much with his character’s warped personality, as his effort to negotiate his characteristic annoying perpetual whine with a blatantly poor imitation southern drawl.
In any case, never has serial killing seemed so lethargic and dull. Which may be just the cure for those mulling that particular vocation in the audience.
1 [out of 4] stars