The Killer Inside Me Review

The violence of Killer Inside Me stirred up a debate in the various film circuits it played, and lead the MPAA to slap it with a “disturbing brutal violence” descriptor. It’s not wrong to label it as such. Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) does slaughter his victims, beating Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) to death with merely his fists. It’s one continuous stream of punches, ripping part of her lip clear off, and swelling her eye until it’s lost in a sea of puffiness.

It’s visceral, but disturbing is Ford’s reaction. He’s casual about it, as if it was meant to be and had to be done. He apologizes while doing it, showing a sense of his insanity, but the real craziness becomes his later reactions. He’s told of the murders and calmly reacts.

The opening of the film narrates the nature of this small town, how everyone is polite, answering everyone with “Miss” or “Mr.” and that holds true even when discussing a murder victim for Ford. He is not distraught, shows no signs of stress, and is totally under control. This is normal, at least if you’re Ford.

That’s where a sense of humor comes into play, breaking all of that tension down for what amounts to pure camp. Killer Inside Me seems to have fun with itself, even when the exhausting stream of violence, shown with no regard for any audience sensitivity, is in full swing. While brutally battering Lakeland, they both express their love for each other. It’s as if Lakeland is not only enjoying this, but accepting of it.

It’s twisted material, and it could work elsewhere. Here it’s vastly out of place, breaking the film wide open from it’s otherwise well constructed thriller motif. Ford is chased by a variety of officials, all of whom are on to him, yet once Ford takes to the streets to chase a victim down with lighthearted music in the background, forget it.

This one is based on a piece by pulp novelist Jim Thompson. As a screen adaptation it fails. The first chapter of the film, with its dealings about a botched financial deal, are poorly described and overly confusing. Killer Inside Me seems awfully eager to move towards its violence, or maybe even expose more of Jessica Alba’s body, but it’s far too clustered and unsure of itself to be entertaining.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

A variety of logos don the disc and cover art, so the actual group responsible for this AVC encode isn’t very clear. Whoever it was, black levels were not a priority, sitting here so flat and lifeless that image barely reaches acceptable levels. Rarely does the video showcase anything other than flat grayish-blue, the supposed film noir stylings of the film hindered by those lack of deep shadows.

The flatness carries over into the color, the pale flesh tones dull and the environments faded. This is far from a cheery, happy film, the washed out look seemingly appropriate, although it doesn’t seem to suit the style as intended by director Michael Winterbottom.

Things are a bit soft here too, resolving little fine detail, especially in the first act. Certain faces struggle with a slightly digital appearance, Elias Koteas awfully processed in the mid-range at 12:46. Affleck himself is given the same treatment, at 16:35, although this transfer does perk up. Later scenes tend to produce some high fidelity detail in droves, close-ups resolving the minute stuff Blu-ray is made for. Some of the Affleck close-ups, such at 54:03, are impressive, and the environment shines too at 1:26:05.

Some intentional blooming can give the contrast a slightly hot appearance, but this is certainly by design. Of bigger concern is some heavy artifacting, again quite rough in the first act or so before clearing up (mostly). Watch as the car comes down the road at 9:27, the hefty blocking easily visible. The grain structure is poorly resolved in general.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

The back of the box lists a mere Dolby Digital mix for this disc, but in fact it offers a DTS-HD effort that is adequate. Ambiance can be strong, insects situated in the rears as characters enter the various grassy fields.

Dialogue is firmly planted in the center, although Casey Affleck’s accent and generally low dialogue is a problem. It’s not the first time. The music, generally a stream of early ’50s hits, comes through cleanly with a reasonable level of fidelity considering the source. At 53:30, a bit of popping can be heard, undoubtedly the music accompaniment itself and not this Blu-ray mix.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Three extras are nothing more than awful padded promos for the film, running a bit over two-minutes each. These are hardy the “making of” featurettes noted on the box. The trailers that follow are more interesting.

Extras ★☆☆☆☆