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95 out of 118 people found the following review useful:

far from perfect, but watchable

7/10
Author: wong-michelle1217 from Hong Kong
22 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First off, this is a film that is made with a lot of artistry, if little heart. It doesn't bore, the directing is efficient, and it has an interesting premise: a sheriff who is also a serial killer.It's shot in an arresting style, all headlights emerging from a dusty road, and people sitting alone at diners as in an Edward Hopper painting. So that's 4 good things. However the lack of suspense does get to you after a while; if you establish that the protagonist is a monster from the get-go, you are not going to get a lot of ambiguity, and therefore no tension. Towards the end you are sort of just waiting for more violence to break out, which is inevitable.

Ah yes, the violence. On this I differ from a large majority of the public, who seem to find it terribly gratuitous. I thought it is shocking, but that it is not entirely a bad thing. Yes, the scene of Jessica Alba being beaten to pulp will disturb, but then again i thought it was crucial to the story as well. What I do object to is the lack of conviction in the tone. As a serious study of a disturbed human being, it doesn't quite go far enough. David Lynch has definitely gone further. As something in the noir tradition, it falls short, capturing the style but not the world-weariness and the intrigue. (in fact, teenage noir Brick succeeds more on this level than The Killer inside me) And as a black comedy (whenever something terrible happens the banjos will kick in to give the film a perverse comic twist) again it doesn't go far enough (the Coen brothers are much better at this sort of thing, ultra violence shot through with humour). The last shot in which everything goes up in flames is almost laughable, but not in the right way.

That said, this is an accomplished effort from a director who clearly knows his material well, and Casey Affleck gives an effortless performance as Lou Ford. And I like the often seamless segue from sex to violence and back to tender embrace; it illustrates perfectly the dynamics of S/M, if nothing else.

One funny thing is the audience reaction. I saw this at the Hong Kong film festival, amongst a mostly appreciative audience. Nobody booed; in fact, there were lots of clapping. Distributors take note: this film might have a lot more prospects in Asia than in Europe/U.S.A., where violence on the screen is in fact quite common and quite widely tolerated. There were lots of laughing ; I think a lot of people felt that they were watching some sort of black comedy. Just an interesting cultural observation, as I have heard that the film produced very negative reactions at both Sundance and the Berlinale.

So, in conclusion, definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but well worth a look if only to see how a twisted mind works. It's a good portrait of a disturbed man, even if the story is, ultimately, inferior to the character.

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95 out of 126 people found the following review useful:

The Most Faithful Lou Ford Adaptation Yet

7/10
Author: jneedleman from United States
5 July 2010

If you've followed the history of this film, then you know it was twenty years in the making. The producers who optioned the rights were on a veritable quest. At one point, Val Kilmer was slated to act, Sean Penn, to direct.

Eventually, many Thompson fans consigned the project to limbo, not knowing how passionate the parties involved actually were. (Chris Hanley is the same producer who delivered This World, Then the Fireworks -- one of the most faithful and unapologetic Thompson adaptations.) Having seen Winterbottom's final cut, I'm glad the producers took their time. The screenplay writer and director have made a film so uncompromisingly faithful to Thompson's novel that a few audience members will usually leave the theater during the most graphic scenes.

Make no mistake: This movie is more grisly than anything by Sam Peckinpah, and the subject is as misogynistic as that of Straw Dogs (though it's the character, not the director, who hates women in this case). If you're a person who can't watch or sanction scenes in which women are brutalized, then this is a film to avoid.

If not, then you're ready to see the book represented in its pulpy essence, with excesses and virtues on display.

Psychopathic sheriff Lou Ford is equal parts self-destructive sadist, con man and facade. For him, excessive politeness and long-windedness are forms of veiled hostility. Brutal sarcasm is delivered in a good-natured everyman way. Everything Ford says is double entendre, the punchline, only apparent to him. He ushers people to their doom in the same tone he might use to offer them a drink.

Other film adaptations, from Tavernier's Coup de Torchon to the 70s version of Killer, have missed Ford's quintessentially Southern hostility. Those French and So Cal readings failed to recognize the specific way in which Thompson, himself a Texan, turns the naive good-natured American stereotype on its head. Winterbottom understands it and shows it, as does his lead.

The actor who plays Ford is famous but not yet so ubiquitous that his celebrity obscures the power of Ford's character. Since character carries an unusual amount of weight in Thompson stories, Casey Afflick was a perfect choice: Likable and chameleonic, with an admirable range and a delivery so spent and inviting it will remind you of Bill Clinton's. You don't just enjoy this portrayal of Ford because he's an interesting villain. You actually sympathize with the character's attempts to regain self-control.

When I read a reviewer's description of Ford listening to classical music and reading Freud, I groaned. I thought he'd been reduced to another Hannibal Lecter. The psychopath who resembles a James Bond nemesis and reveals his intelligence by listening to classical music and quoting Nietzsche is an '80s cliché.

Not to worry: Affleck's Ford never talks about culture and he never air-conducts.

From the period-specific tone to the apparent humility and social restraint of the killer -- which made readers sympathize with him even after he committed acts that seemed designed to justify the death penalty -- this film is to Thompson what Wynton Marsalis is to Miles Davis: Reverent to the point of sacrificing personality, but giving back everything in terms of performance, style and formal correctness. The attention to form was particularly appreciated: Having read the book twice, I knew what was coming and still enjoyed the ending.

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95 out of 145 people found the following review useful:

Utterly disturbing and fascinating. A conversation starter.

7/10
Author: signemarie from Copenhagen, Denmark
17 July 2010

Ironically, I picked this over the documentary 'Armadillo' about the war in Afghanistan, because I didn't feel like watching a truly frightening and disturbing movie that night. I felt like watching something 'fictionally scary'. It seems I should have gone for the war documentary instead, this movie had me wrecked emotionally for days. The story kind of clings, you have to deal with it, but it's complex and hard. It's a challenging movie.

What keeps riddling me about this movie, is how on earth did anyone manage to make me feel sympathetic towards the main character, who's an occasionally psychotic, cynical and brutal sadist? Even when he loses his temper completely with consequences beyond anything you thought you would ever watch on the big screen, you find yourself on his side.

Now, it's not an uncommon ambition for a director to construct 'bad' characters with compelling sides that awaken your sympathy, but this is beyond my comprehension. He's not a character you feel sorry for, he's not playing the victim anywhere, he's a sadist out of control. He plans things carefully to serve his own purposes and explodes in violence. Still, you want him to make it. You are left for hours thinking and discussing why on earth you found yourself supporting this character. Why would anybody?!? I don't know how this was done, it is, as I said, disturbing.

I was thinking about this for days, I'm still thinking about it. There are many story lines to examine in retrospect, there's his childhood, the violence, the biblical figures and references, the forbidden sexual urges, the gender dynamics of the time and how Hudson and Albas characters are both in their own way revolting them. Casey Affleck gives a scarily brilliant performance, and Kate Hudson deserves compliments on her fantastic performance as the classical 'good girl of good family' of the 1950s who hides both a great social insight and a dark side.

The Killer Inside Me is a great conversation starter, my boyfriend and I discussed this for hours (and we are far from an intellectual movie-discussing couple). Americans should be warned though, this is without a doubt one of the most graphical violent Hollywood productions I have ever seen.

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72 out of 102 people found the following review useful:

to complain that "The Killer Inside Me" is full of misogynistic violence is a little like reading "Moby-Dick" and objecting to all the stuff about whaling

8/10
Author: chrisrolfny from United States
2 January 2011

They read books don't they?

I have a little habit on this site especially when I am unfamiliar with a films content, its director or writer. I look at the IMDb viewer reviews, starting by filtering them with the "hated it" box checked. If people have a good solid reason for hating a film or disliking it, a reason of substance, then I read 1 or 2 of "the bests" but consider twice whether I want to watch it. In the case of this film, I'd already seen it. I looked at the viewer reviews because it was an adaptation of a Jim Thompson novel and I wanted to see how people reacted. Especially because I was surprised, having seen it, by the films low rating.

For those of you who know nothing of Thompson's work I direct you to the Wikipedia article on him. In it, Steven King (who I assume most people on this site know as he wrote the IMDb rated #1 film of all time, "The Shawshank Redemption") said he "most" admired Thompson specifically for three lets... "he let himself see everything, he let himself write it down, then he let himself publish it".

Now I know that the ratings here can be a little skewed. For example, is Inception really the 6th greatest film ever made. Is "Sin City" a better movie than say "Jaws", "Blade Runner" or "The Wizard of Oz" or any number of extraordinary foreign entry's. In the IMDb world virtually every episode of every TV show ever made is always ranked higher than any feature. Look at Jessica Alba's work sorted by rating... Could every episode of Dark Angel have really been that good? Maybe it just means that IMDb viewers prefer short form fiction to the long form. Or as the editor of New York Magazine is quoted to have addressed his staff, "I don't want anything in this rag I can't read in one good crap".

Its a foregone conclusion that lot of people who frequent IMDb spend a good portion of their time being visually entertained and they might not have enough time left to peruse the printed work as much as they aught; Maybe not even enough time to search out some intelligent criticism before they make their viewing choices. But the number of 1 star, I hated it, reviews for this film defy all reason. Sure the subject matter is inherently offensive. But as Andrew O'Hehir said in his Salon.com review, to hate this faithful delivery of Jim Thompson's book, or to complain that "The Killer Inside Me" is full of misogynistic violence is a little like reading "Moby-Dick" and objecting to all the stuff about whaling.

Maybe if people read a little about a film before they invest their 2 bucks and 2 hours they could avoid subjecting themselves to films they won't like and spare us all their trenchant voicing of how they hated London because their vacation there was ruined when it rained the whole damn time they were there.

Paris would be great too, if they spoke more English and... "if you wanted the steak 'why'd ya order the duck"?

This is A GREAT FILM great film, unerringly faithful to its decidedly American literary roots, with great performances by some great actors. And if you find Jessica Alba so one dimensional you want to kill her, maybe that's the point.

Other suggested recent American Rural Noirs of note: Winters Bone (2010) The Frozen River (2008)

To see what a more lyrical Mexican voice has added to the genre: The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005) The Burning Plain (2008)

And of course the Cohen's brilliant noirs: No Country For Old Men (2007) Blood Simple (1984)

Lastly, there is always Tavernier's beautifully exuberant french adaptation of Thompson's "Pop. 1280", "Coup de Torchon", with the story moved from North Carolina to French West Africa. There is a likable comic buffoon in Noiret's playing of the character a little at odds with Thompson's... but if you don't like the French, stay out of the kitchen.

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51 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

Solid, but undeniably brutal and dark.

8/10
Author: lewiskendell from United States
1 September 2010

"The trouble of growing up in a small town is everybody thinks they know who you are."

I was initially interested in The Killer Inside Me because I'm a fan of both Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba, but I soon became even more intrigued by what I was reading in the early reviews about how brutal it is. And it is brutal. I don't mean the over the top, fanciful gore-drenched brutality of a movie like Saw, I mean the kind of realistic, stomach- churning violence that isn't easy to watch. This movie is definitely not for everyone, as a result. I just thought I'd put that disclaimer out there.

The story is about a 29 year-old sheriff deputy named Lou Ford who leads a double life. He's a sadistic, violent, disturbed man who hides his true nature under the gentlemanly, courteous reputation he has amongst the denizens of the Texas town he's lived in since he was born. An encounter with a local prostitute triggers the violent urges in him that have been somewhat buried, and a cascade of murders upon murders result as he tries to cover his tracks and avoid the scrutiny of a district attorney who is deeply suspicious of him. 

I though Affleck was great in this. The guy is just a natural actor, and he pulls off both the unnerving psychopath and small town local aspects of the character. I wanted Ford to get caught for his utterly despicable actions, yet I still found myself feeling anxious whenever he seemed in danger of being found out. If that's not a compliment of Casey's performance, I don't know what could be. Alba was good in her somewhat limited role, and it was a pretty risk choice for her to tackle a part like this where so much violence was directed at her character. Kate Hudson also does well in a role that very different from much of her recent work, and Simon Baker rounds out the main cast with a solid performance as the district attorney.

I was drawn into this movie from the opening credits. If you're not put off by the violence and the sex (often mixed together), The Killer Inside Me is well worth watching. I thought the ending wasn't pulled off as well as the rest of the film was, but that's really my only complaint. Recommended.  

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73 out of 113 people found the following review useful:

The killer should stay inside

4/10
Author: Derek Deskins from Boston, MA
19 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The Killer Inside Me is tough. Directed by Michael Winterbottom, the film gives the audience an experience that is hard to describe. If you have heard anything about the film so far, it most likely concerns the graphic violence that is depicted against women, and it is graphic. Some may consider it a success for its ability to make the viewer squirm, but the deliberately paced film has a muddled story that will leave you feeling confused and uneasy.

Based on Jim Thompson's 1952 novel of the same name, The Killer Inside Me tells the story of Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck). Taking place in a small West Texas town, Lou is a soft-spoken and patient man. The community pays Lou no mind thinking him to be a bit boring, but nothing else. Little do they know that there is another side of Lou lingering beneath the surface. He has been able to repress his "sickness" since his childhood but an interaction with local prostitute Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), reawakens the monster within.

Cinematographer Marcel Zyskind deserves all sorts of credit for the way the film is shot. The depiction of the period is spot-on. A reserved palette is used throughout the entire film. The muted colors help to allow the screen to ooze 1950s nostalgia. There is a visual honesty in the way everything looks that makes the images intriguing. Even during moments when I wanted to turn away because of events taking place on the screen I was drawn back.

The acting is hit-and-miss. Casey Affleck is fantastic as Lou Ford. He is able to portray a gradual slide into insanity in such an understated manner that you can lose track of how deep he has fallen. From the first appearance of Affleck on screen, I felt uneasy. At a point in the film where nothing has really happened yet, the viewer can sense that there is something not right about Lou Ford. I can't put my finger on exactly how Affleck does it but it is abundantly successful. This is no Dexter Morgan. You want Ford to be caught. As the film progresses your hatred for Ford grows exponentially. This may be the reason why the film's ending isn't satisfying. Other than Affleck, the acting is nothing special. Kate Hudson and Jessica Alba are simply there. The story's punch comes from a caring for both Hudson and Alba's characters, but the film never makes you care. They seem to be there literally to be Ford's punching bags. The two are little more than props for Affleck to use and this hurts the story.

Time to address that violence I mentioned. There are a couple scenes in the film in which women are brutally beaten. Personally, this is up there with rape on the list of things I don't want to see in film. That being said I can recognize the intent of its use in this film. The brutality in which Ford harms the women is juxtaposed with his kind and understated demeanor in his town. The film hopes to show that this "killer" can dwell within anyone, that a person's outside appearance does not dictate the manner in which he may act in other settings. Crudely put, the film emphasizes that we cannot judge a book by its cover. However, the way in which the violence is presented does not further this theme. The camera lingers on the gruesome abuse for extended periods. I didn't think Pulp Fiction was too violent; nor did I think that The Departed was too violent. However, and I say this with complete conviction, The Killer Inside Me is too violent. The moments of violence are relatively short but they are shown with such realism that it is nearly nauseating to watch. It seems like Winterbottom is daring the audience to turn away. As a man I felt the duration and brutality of the violence against women to be borderline misogynistic. If the violence is not enough, the twist ending, which left a bitter taste in my mouth, seems to add more credence to the misogyny argument. I cannot imagine a woman that will be able to enjoy this film.

I wanted to enjoy this film, I really did, but upon leaving the theater I was happy that it was over. Shot with an honesty that reflects its period, the muted colors serve as an additional commentary on the main character himself. Affleck becomes Lou Ford and depicts his descent into psychosis believably, sucking the viewer into his troubling world. Despite its accomplishments, the films depiction of violence against women is shot in a way that will leave the viewer cringing and ultimately does more harm than good. The Killer Inside Me has the rumblings of a good film that are overshadowed by brutal and unnecessary violence.

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44 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

The violence was not the problem

2/10
Author: RunLikeTheDevil from Denmark
23 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I went to see The Killer Inside Me not really knowing what to expect. I admit that the only real reason I wanted to watch it was my love for Casey Affleck, and that I didn't exactly know what the film was about.

Funny thing is: I came out of this theater still not really knowing what it was all about.

Yes, I understand that Ford had an extremely troubled childhood and youth, and I do acknowledge the obvious pattern and character transformation, and that he was mentally ill, but..and this is gonna sound dumb but: what was all that other stuff about?

I honestly did not fully understand the point of the killings (apart from that he was trickered by Alba hitting him -but there was a motive too, later, was there not?) and there were a lot of names and numbers thrown around, I just.. well I couldn't keep track. And I wondered after wards if it was just me not getting it, or if the movie was just very poorly constructed.

I'd certainly like to think it was the latter. But perhaps all these details of alleged planned killings and bribes and what not were not really important, but just a motive for Ford to kill? I just think there are a lot of lose ends and stories -eg. the story of the step brother, that leave you wondering.

The Violence. I'm a girl, and honestly the violence against the women didn't..offend me. It was horrible to watch, of course it was. But movies are partly made to reflect reality one way or the other, so I didn't see it as something that did not belong in the world of films.

What I didn't like about this movie was the way the women were portrayed. Firstly, there wasn't really any way for us to become connected with Amy and Joyce. We knew nothing about their lives, they were just there for sex and slaps. It's hard to really really relate to a person you do not know, and that made the film weak.

I was also quite annoyed with how obedient and foolishly naive and loyal they were. Joyce may be a hooker, but we say early on that she could stand up for herself, and that she had other admirers. Does a woman in that position let a man who's just beaten her brutally then kiss her? Does she want to run off with him?

Amy seemed to be a respected girl in the village and her clothes seemed to suggest that she came from money, so why the heck would she stay with a guy who not only spanks her but is also incredibly mean coming home late, lying to her, and is just generally very unlikable?

Beats me. It seemed quite demeaning to women if you ask me.

The film does need some credit though. I think Affleck did a great job portraying a psychopath, and he made one feel very uneasy indeed. Alba and Hudson were below mediocre to me, and Simon Baker not only looked strange but also seemed rather misplaced.

..oh right, the credit.. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed the way the movie was shot, the settings, the clothes; it was all extremely well constructed. I also did quite like the tracks selected for the film, though a few seemed kinda misplaced as well.

I would not recommend you to watch this movie, I really wouldn't. But if you do I hope you make more sense of it than I could!

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63 out of 100 people found the following review useful:

One Foot on Both Sides of the Fence

5/10
Author: David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
18 July 2010

Greetings again from the darkness. The film is based upon the work of crime novelist Jim Thompson, who is quite famous as a writer and whose works have often been translated to film. This time oft-creepy director Michael Winterbottom is in charge and comes pretty close to creating a masterpiece. Unfortunately, the bits that fall short, very nearly ruin the film.

Psychological crime thrillers can be the most fascinating genre (see Inception), but only when the lead psycho is relatable in some sense and the story is complete. Here, Casey Affleck gives an outstanding performance as the dude you don't want your daughter to date. There is a deep darkness hidden behind his aw-shucks facade of innocence and cutesy west Texas drawl.

The violence is expected, yet still shocking, when it first rears its head on poor Jessica Alba. We feel the first punch. What happens in this first encounter catches us off-guard and leaves us wanting to know more background on Affleck's character. Instead, we are really only spectators in his plan of violence that seems to have no real goal. Think Natural Born Killers. Heck, even Ted Bundy had a real plan!

The creepiness factor is upped a bit since most everyone associated with the crimes seems to suspect Affleck's character, but no one knows what to do or how to stop him. Elias Koteas and Simon Baker (miscast) are two who try. Personally I wanted more of the Koteas character as well as Ned Beatty, who plays a powerful developer against whom Affleck holds a grudge.

Bill Pullman is tossed in near the end to help wrap things up, but mostly the ending is as unsatisfying as the rest of the story. It is uncomfortable to watch Affleck's character, so devoid of morals and empty of soul, but it feels wasted on a small town deputy sheriff with no vision. Maybe that's not such a bad thing ... but it makes for a much weaker film.

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74 out of 122 people found the following review useful:

Disappointing

5/10
Author: Chris Bennett from United Kingdom
2 September 2010

Cant help expecting more.....

The good things -

Casey Affleck and the character of Lou Ford as the baby faced psycho who thinks he is smart but isn't as clever as he believes Plausible violence - It wasn't good to watch but the situations felt real. I am still not convinced it was so necessary to have so much as you can get the point fairly quickly and then it just starts eating up film time which you could probably use better doing other things.

The bad things The ending - was stupid on so many levels. If by some chance it wasn't in his imagination then what are the chances that so many people have no sense of smell... Would have been much better to finish the film 10 minutes earlier. Dialogue. Maybe its just me and maybe it was the cinema but I just didn't catch what was being said a lot of the time. The Elias Koteas character in particular was hard to understand, and with so many little clues and pointers to whats happening and the different relationships its frustrating when you start missing things

The film as a whole felt incoherent, and I cant help thinking that there are much better films covering the same sort of area

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30 out of 42 people found the following review useful:

Fragmented luridness

7/10
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
4 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Lou Ford is a young small town deputy sheriff in West Texas in the Fifties, a bland young man on the outside but with a sickness he's been harboring inside for years that's just waiting to burst into horrible bloom and invade his whole being. When the sheriff sends him to pay a prostitute and make her leave town, she smacks him, and he smacks her back harder, and they make love on her bed, and a relationship begins that leads to a succession of increasingly violent acts, terminating in five deaths and along the way compelling Lou Ford to attempt a cover-up that is doomed to go up in flames and take him along with it.

'The Killer Inside Me,' this lurid serial killer tragedy, is a great role for Casey Affleck, who plays Lou Ford, one he's spent years grooming for. Lou is a cold killer with a polite mama's boy manner, a Boy Scout type who'd use his Swiss Army knife not for whittling, but for slashing women's flesh. He puts on gloves so his beating leaves fewer marks. His thing is smashing up women with his fists, then spanking them as a lead-up to sex -- or, finally, to murder.

Affleck gives a pitch-perfect show; his facade never breaks. You keep expecting him to look worried or crack a smile, but he never does. He breaks a sweat, but when he grins, it fits the warped persona, and when the reedy voice cracks slightly, its like rubato on a violin. The actor is ideally suited for this role of a boyish, faintly boring, sadistic killer. His persona is opaque but convincing, a work of eerily quaint folk art.

Unfortunately, the movie itself is a botch. This is pulp fiction, but as one of the best known works of one of the great masters of the form, Jim Thompson, it must be considered a literary adaptation, one that went wrong. The reason is not as some say because the sex and violence are too raw, but because the story has been made a hash of. The shock isn't the beatings and the sensuality but how little electricity they generate, and that's what happens to the narrative as a whole. Instead of being propulsive and suspenseful, it's fragmented and unclear. A fundamental problem is that the novel is in the first person: it's the inner monologue of a homicidal psychopath. This is the same as with Patricia Highsmith, whose novels told from the evildoer's POV are so tempting but so hard to dramatize on film.

There is voice-over from Affleck, but there can't be enough to get truly into Lou Ford's warped head. A few flashbacks to his early life aren't enough, and (like so much of the editing) they aren't well placed in the order of unfolding scenes to prepare the audience and make Lou's apparently simple but actually many-layered personality understandable.

And apart from the protagonist's complex back story this is already a very tangled tale, with a possibly murdered brother, an extortion game, an innocent boy imprisoned, a man who knows all about Lou's crimes, and an elaborate cover-up that gradually fails as Lou's insanity and violence escalate. Various deputies and investigators are called in, and there is the problem of Lou's aging alcoholic sheriff boss.

And there's a drifter (Brent Briscoe) who turns into a blackmailer, as well as another Deputy (Matthew Maher) and a man called Billy Boy Walker (none other than Bill Pullman) who comes to free Lou after he's been held in jail for a couple weeks and then in the "IN-sane asylum," as Affleck, with characteristic quaintness, reads the phrase. Back in the past, Lou already had a history of sexual abusiveness toward a girl when he was a boy, and this may have something to do with the death of his slightly older foster brother, Mike, who died in an industrial accident that may have been murder.

Believe it or not, all this makes sense in Jim Thompson's novel -- but it's way too much to fool around with. Nonetheless Winterbottom and the author of the screenplay John Curran (whose writing credits don't look that impressive) have fooled around with it. The result is confusion.

The screenplay includes some of the novel's key lines, such as these words of Lou Ford to the boy, Johnnie Pappas, when he's in jail for Lou's crime: "I guess I kind of got a foot on both fences, Johnnie. I planted 'em there early and now they've taken root, and I can't move either way and I can't jump. All I can do is wait until I split. Right down the middle." We can sense that this conceals an essential truth about the story's warped protagonist. But we haven't been told enough to know what he means.

Little by little the facts all unfold, but without an order and a context that would give them full meaning. The result is a curious detachment not just by Lou Ford, as is to be expected, for such is the way of psychopathic killers, but for us, because we are not drawn into the action. Nor does the Fifties period atmosphere. You remain on the outside looking in, noting one development after another. The arch, campy feel set up by the opening credits and the rockabilly music don't help. A clumsy lack of affect dooms the show from the first few minutes rendering the intense plot inoperable, ineffective, when it ought to have been devastating.

Stanley Kubrick, who worked successfully with Jim Thompson on this 1956 The Killing, famously called 'The Killer Inside Me' "probably the most chilling and believable first-person story of a criminally warped mind I have ever encountered." And clearly worthy material for a film. But it has not yet been done. Despite Cassey Affleck's brilliant star performance, Winterbottom's version is only a hollow shell.

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