When I select a movie to watch, I look at a couple of different factors. Does this movie have any historical impact? Do I like the director or star or genre? What have the critics said about this movie being worth my time? I ask myself these questions because I have so many movies I want to watch, but I only have so much time in the day to devote to them. I have developed a system for myself that usually leads to mediocre to great choices, which of course include the awesome so-bad-its-good category. But every once in a while my interest in a movie outweighs its possible potential. This is usually a movie where I am indifferent to the star of the picture, I have seen a lot of “meh” reviews and although I like the director, have never felt that I needed to see his complete oeuvre. But something about the movie’s premise screams at me to take a chance and watch it. This feeling usually leads to watching one of the best movies that I have seen in a long time or become incredibly bored by the thirty minute mark. Read on to see which one I think The Killer Inside Me is.
The Killer Inside Me stars Casey Affleck as Lou Ford. He is a quiet man working at the sheriff’s office in a small town in Texas. This is the fifties, so everything has this incredible sheen of nostalgia. Lou gets an assignment to go to a house where a prostitute, played by Jessica Alba, lives. The rich man in town is concerned about the prostitute’s influence over his son. Lou confronts her but this only leads to rough sex. Lou is smitten almost immediately. But he has a long-standing girlfriend, played by Kate Hudson. How can he carry on loving someone who is the spurn of the town while he is hanging on to its sweetheart? Well in only the pulp universe does everything take a tragic turn. Lou and the prostitute hatch up some hare-brained scheme but he has other plans. He decides to kill her then the son of the richest man in town. He will cover up his story with several clever ways, but you know instantly that he is not going to get rid of the killing that easily.
Grim pictures hold a mystique for me that gives me guilty pleasure. Watching someone vainly struggle to get out of a given situation is compelling. And it seems here that Michael Winterbottom has all of the right ingredients to make a perfect grim picture. Except of course the cast. I have never hated any of these actors. In fact, in small doses Casey Affleck can be very good and interesting to watch. But I don’t think he is (or was at the time this film got made) ready to carry an almost two-hour movie. He does the voiceover for a lot of the film and I can barely understand what he is saying. His signature marble mouth does him no favors here. He is trying to play an unemotional and detached man but forgot to make him compelling. I have no reason to care about what happens to this man. He does nothing but beat up the women in his life and ultimately kill them. Not that I didn’t want them dead, mind you. Both Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson “acting” performances. They are both trying very hard to achieve a serious tone but are failing so completely. I would never believe that Jessica Alba is a prostitute. She is so completely unconvincing that it seems at times she is there to play dress up (or shall I say “dress down?” boom, nailed it.). Kate Hudson tries a Southern accent, but forgets it in her trailer for half of her scenes. There is no redeeming aspect to her character except that she is willing to take her clothes off for him with no notice at all. She seems game for anything and that seems to get Lou’s goat the most. You have a willing participant in all of the weird stuff you want to try to and you still want to kill her? Give me a break.
This movie isn’t just the fault of the actors. It is also a problem with the plot. Designed to be a slow burn where he eventually reveals his own mistakes to the investigating detectives, this movie moves at a glacial place. Characters are given little motivation and little character depth. Lou’s boss is a drunk. The rich man of the town is rich. The investigating detective is persistent. Even the main characters seem to only have exterior characteristics. Lou Ford is characterized as intelligent. He is intelligent because he listens to opera, reads books, and lives in his doctor father’s house. We never see him actually be clever or intelligent on-screen. We just see him participate in what are deemed like intelligent endeavors. The same goes for both Kate and Jessica’s characters. There is no emotional anchor, no one that we care about, even though we are told several times to be for Lou. But why would I like someone who has rough sex or is slightly rude to his townspeople? A good movie must always have someone be slightly sympathetic. It doesn’t take much. In Le Samourai, we see his emotional side when he takes care of the bird in his apartment. That one-act makes an otherwise stoned face killer interesting and sympathetic. But this movie goes out-of-the-way to show how unsympathetic the character is. Stop trying so hard and give me a god damn bird already. Geesh. Is that so hard?