The Killer Inside Me
One thing that has to be said about The Killer Inside Me is that it will let you leave the cinema thinking, it will provoke you in many ways through the film, and to me that's one of the key aspects of cinema, to engage and provoke, to make you think, and this film certainly does that and at the same time entertains.
What is perhaps most surprising is that the book presents the view of the killer in a very matter of fact way, there’s no real side taken by the story or the author, and we are merely placed inside the mind of a killer.
The story is made more interesting in that he’s a killer who has managed to push back his instincts and keep them under control, living the life of a normal, average guy, and even becoming the local Deputy Sheriff, and no one has a clue.
However that status quo is changing, and slowly his internal personality is coming forward, almost bored with this quiet life he grabs opportune moments to allow it to be satisfied, needling people, pushing them little by little, but trying to protect who he has become.
It’s only when he is called out to the house on the outskirts of town where a woman of ill repute has set-up her business that his true personality begins to come forward, helped out by the only too willing woman, and that becomes a problem for everyone involved, including himself.
The obvious first thing to address about this film is the way it looks, the production design and cinematography is very strong. You do feel immediately transported to the fifties and there doesn’t seem to be a foot wrong in the fifties that has been created for the film.
What does surprise is the casting. The mixture of actors and actresses is interesting and doesn’t seem to be the list of obvious choices.
Casey Affleck is good throughout, although I really do wish he would stop mumbling as there were genuinely times I had no idea what he’s said, if indeed he had said something because it could have just been a noise.
He does bring a great attitude to the character that is well scripted and created. Like the book there’s no clichéd killer pulled out of the bag and there’s no sympathy or condemning attitudes in the film, it does present the character in a very neutral light.
Neither Affleck nor the writers delve into clichés for his portrayal either, he’s not leaping into the realm of moustached villain, nowhere near in fact, and neither is he playing it cool and collected like some character such as Lektor. He's not possessing of an all encompassing rage or a continually terrifying look, what we get is something much more in between, something much more akin to real life sociopath, and he really gives you the belief that he could do anything at any moment and there wouldn’t be an ounce of remorse in the character.
It’s interesting to watch how his character handles and analyses moments, and you can almost see the thoughts going through his head, and as the film goes on and you really get into the character, the worrying thing is that you start to understand what’s happening inside his mind. Not so much understanding his motives and his own reasoning, but it does manage to capture that feeling that you get with the novel, almost a connection with the character even though he is a psychotic killer.
For me that was one of the strongest aspects of the film, the way that the main character was written and the way Affleck portrayed him. However the book does present much more of an insight into the character and I think that makes it a much more interesting feel to the story.
Jessica Alba is a bit of a surprise here, she’s an actress that when you see her on screen you see the actress, not so much the character she’s playing, but more Jessica Alba. However here she does manage to sway you around from that way of thinking, and a lot of that is down to the script which puts her character in such a tough situation straight away.
She is good through the film, although her role is rather limited, and that goes for the role played by Kate Hudson too. She does well but there’s not much for her character to do or for the role to go.
There are people complaining about the female roles, that it’s not a very female orientated film, but the most talking about the violence towards women and how vicious it is towards them in some key scenes.
There are indeed some very uncomfortable scenes in the film and they are all against women, and not just the well publicised scenes of the violence, but also the very uncomfortable scene of the killer when he was younger and what might have been described as one of the key instigating incidents for the killer.
The real talk though is about the two scenes where he beats on women, extremely viciously in some incredibly graphic scenes. Some people have been very vocal about the scenes and picked them out from the film to complain about them, however they’re forgetting that we’re looking at a killer and the film has to portray the contrast from his normal, everyday life, to the unbelievable reality of the cold blooded killer.
For me these scenes work exceedingly well and they unnerved me, made me realise just how extraordinary the character is, and suddenly unseat the view of the character that’s already been built up. I liked the way that it was handled, and I really liked the fact that we’re presented with the harsh brutality. There’s no glorification in it at all, it’s terrible, horrible, and shown that way.
Without these scenes there’s no real understanding of just how powerful and evil the character is. Of course some say they go too far, and they certainly do go further than usual, but they don’t do anything other than make us realise how truly evil the character is and fill us with revulsion for him. If there was anything within the audience endearing them to the character, it’s suddenly destroyed at this point.
While I don’t feel that these aspects of the film are negative, there are a couple of things that did strike me as odd. I’ll admit that the scenes of the couple whistling in bed are indeed odd, but then we must remember that we’re inside the mind of the killer and these are his memories. Still, it was one of those moments where you look oddly at the screen and wonder what’s going on.
Saying that you can imagine how hard it is to try and pull the audience into the mind of the main character without making it look too cheesy and becoming too odd on screen, so all in all it does really well with the story idea.
No, while that part is odd, it’s not really the part of the film that I had a problem with, it’s the whole plot about the bribe and where it starts off. This is really confusing, because the characters are suddenly talking about a plot that seems to have appeared out of nowhere.
You do catch up quite quickly but it does feel to just appear, and that something that sticks out from the book and also sticks out from the film. I found myself having one of those moments where you are actually pushed out of the film and left looking at it from the outside wondering what’s going on.
To be fair it does pull you in quickly once again, but the very fact you’re knocked out long enough to question the moment is a bad for any film.
The ending is odd too, it did seem a little neat, but the delivery is really well done. Really well done that is apart from the big reveal of the ending surprise which I really didn’t blow me away. I had actually forgotten about this surprise when it came in the film, but despite that I didn’t even get the faintest kick from it and I expected it to be a little shocking or at least surprising.
That ending did have a strange feel to, not just the surprise, but it was good too. I didn’t feel the usual shocks, surprises and explanations that you do with other films, but there are some excellent story turns that pull things together well and continue to show the killer inside him.
I did like the film, but there were a few unusual quirks and moments that struck me. As always though, it hits the saying I love the most about film, it has to make you feel or think something, not just walking out the door and returning to real life. The Killer Inside Me certainly does that as it unnerves, upsets and turns you from the normal thriller story.
It complements the book well, and the leading actors and actresses give good, solid performances with Casey Affleck delivering a visually great performance for his character, even if he does mumble far too much of his dialogue.
Michael Winterbottom delivers a wonderfully shot film with some excellent sets to take you into the time of the story, there’s a good pace to it as well, and some clever nuances that try to deliver the viewpoint of being inside the mind of the killer.
A few flaws, but it is a strong thriller that does deliver something very different. Prepare to be unnerved though.