Usually the argument for a film based on a novel is that the book is a much better representation of the story and characters. That may be the case for The Killer Inside Me (based on the 1952 novel by Jim Thompson), but for once in my life I have no inclination to read it. This is not to say anything negative about the film itself, I just don’t think I could handle going deeper into the inner workings of the protagonist’s mind.
On the surface Lou Ford seems to be a trustworthy member of the small town in Texas he resides in. Then again, the same thing could be said for most people who come with a badge. But unlike most (hopefully), Deputy Sheriff Ford has a dark side to him far more comparable to those he should be locking up, and the seeming inability to keep this side of him under control.
It should be noted that this film is beautifully shot with scenes drenched in shadows, contrasting those that are filled with the warmth and safety of the daylight, but this is not the contrast that will haunt you. Casey Affleck dons the cowboy hat as Ford in a role that is easily one of the most disturbing I have ever seen on film. He plays the character as a soft-spoken individual, so much so that I often had trouble hearing what he was saying, making it hard to fathom him ever being capable of doing anything harmful to those in the community. Going in I might have expected a certain degree of this, but I still somehow managed to hope for the best in his character because he made me believe in the façade he put on. I ignored the emptiness in his eyes as he lashed out cruelly, feeling completely blindsided though there were so many hints that something tragic was about to occur. Even then I at least believing that he must genuinely regret what he was doing to comfort myself somewhat, but there comes a point when all hope is lost.
When you get down to it The Killer Inside Me is really hard to watch, possibly even more so coming from the female perspective. Ford is a misogynistic, inhumane individual who holds himself far above the females he uses, easily exerting his power over them both sexually and violently. Jessica Alba plays a prostitute that he becomes involved with instead of simply running her out of town like he is supposed to, and I was pleased to see a new side to her acting abilities even though her role does not have an overwhelming amount of depth or range to it. Because I am used to seeing Jessica Alba in roles that take full advantage of her sex appeal, it is almost harder to watch Kate Hudson’s character degraded in the way that she is as Ford’s girlfriend, and it is impossible not to fear for her in every scene she is in with him because she is able to bring some feeling of innocence to her role. With Alba’s character, these two roles bring out a side of Ford’s character that almost seems loving, and in many ways actually might be his idea of love, making it all the more sickening and hard to watch when their interactions take a turn for the worse.
Even though it might be easier for a novel to describe Ford’s mindset, the film still manages to make his internal thought process an interesting thing to see in terms of visually following his trains of thoughts and his ideas of the happy ending, as well as the use of voiceovers, but I am still curious to see if the book gives a stronger indication of his motivation and how his mind works. However, in the end I suppose it is pointless to try to find the logic in what he does because this is really just something to comfort myself and find a better understanding of how someone could behave in such a way without remorse. Maybe it is best not to understand.
In the end The Killer Inside Me is a haunting film with a performance by Casey Affleck that makes a compelling reason to recommend the film even though it is really hard to watch at times. Just be prepared for the possibility that you might not be able to ever look at him the same way ever again.
Final Grade: B