The Killer Inside Me is completely beautiful on an aesthetic level and features an amazing performance from Casey Affleck. Unfortunately it's violent, nasty, and hard to watch, and Affleck's Lou Ford is held at arm's length, never allowing us to get close enough to really know him.
Lou ford is a deputy sheriff in a small Texas town, where he's known and loved by everyone. But what everyone doesn't know is that Lou has what he calls a "sickness." He's a sadistic sociopath. And while he's been able to suppress it for most of his adult life, a fling with a prostitute triggers something inside of him and we get a front row seat to his destruction.
It's not often I find a film hard to watch. It happened a little while ago with the chilly thriller Frozen, but I can't think of anything else off the top of my head that I had trouble with. The Killer Inside Me is brutal. It's not exactly a flaw. With a plot like this, it has to be brutal. That's the very nature of the story.
But the problem with the brutality is that it's wasted. We never get personal with the characters; we're always on the outside looking in. So when Lou starts to lose it and unleash bouts of disgusting violence, our only reaction happens on a surface level. And that reaction is nausea. We should pity him or hate him, but we can't do anything of the sort, because we just can't connect.
I had trouble getting through The Killer Inside Me. I also found Frozen hard to watch, but I sat through it and I was rewarded with a truly gripping film. The same can't be said in this case.
And none of the blame lies on Affleck. Lou Ford may be a little two dimensional, but he's as close to compelling as a flat character can get, thanks to Affleck's ability. He also deserves major credit for taking on such a sickening role. And while the film as a whole is nothing to brag about, this performance should definitely go on his resume.
Bill Pullman also deserves a special mention as the charismatic Billy Boy Walker, whose time on screen is criminally short, but very memorable, as he chews the scenery so fiercely it leaves bite marks in your skin.
Adding to the film's problems is the slow pacing. It's understandable to move at this pace, as the story is about a sadist and the evil boiling up inside of him. Lou doesn't just snap. It's a gradual transformation, which makes a slow pace appropriate. But again, the lack of a truly engaging character means that the slow pacing backfires and is simply torturous.
The Killer Inside Me is slow, boring, and overwhelming in the worst way possible. And it's a shame to waste such an amazing performance.
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