The Killer Inside Me
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
At some point friends and family will have to stage an intervention and inform Michael Winterbottom that he is not the master of all trades that his resume might suggest and that critics imply with hands-thrown-up boilerplate upon every new release. Over the past decade, the feature-ready premises of his films have generally held greater interest than the half-satisfying, incompletely realized results. Set in 1950s small-town Texas, The Killer Inside Me is less shocking for the film's bloody beatings, which have attracted press, than for the lifelessness of its adaptation from Jim Thompson's 1952 novella (which has itself garnered critical purple prose).
That hair-raising chameleon Casey Affleck plays Lou Ford, a sheriff's deputy whose twisted secret tendencies perhaps require the screentime devoted to braining his hooker-lover if only so we notice them. Jessica Alba, buttocks made up with bruises, is the hooker, used in a grisly cover-up involving the son of a swaggering town magnate (though also of note is Lou's bladder-emptying, dress-over-the-head beating of another victim). Sounding a bit like a Clinton impersonator and overshadowed by hat, Affleck lacks presence and depth, giving no sense of the squirmy interior life in Thompson's first-person telling.
Supporting cast help show what Affleck isn't giving: Tom Bower as Lou's tippling, trusting sheriff, and, in a welcome relief during the film's ridiculous wind-down, Bill Pullman as (nominally) a lawyer on the scene. Chunkily interpolated flashbacks (just please see Nightfall at Film Forum instead) and glib soundtrack choices are two other bad things.
Opens June 18