Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, Ned Beatty and Simon Baker star in this very gritty and well executed adaptation of the 1952 crime novel by Jim Thompson. The novel was considered to be one of the outrageous 1950’s crime novels not only at the time, for years to come as a sort of perverse landmark.
Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) at first appears to be a respectable West Texas sheriff, but this mask is slowly and disturbingly torn away as he appears to be only a sadist and a killer wearing a badge. At one point, he’s supposed to run a prostitute(Jessica Alba) out of town, but instead unprofessionally opts for giving her tough belt whipping instead and then has sex with her. He then begins an unprofessional, and a sadomasochistic bent relationship with this prostitute, whom he later brutally beats leaving her for dead to frame another officer of the law whom he murders to make things appear as a brutal and violent murder scene. It’s just one of many very disturbing and very violent images in this outrageous and gritty crime film. On one hand, Sheriff Lou Ford appears to love the prostitute, on the other hand he has a very sick personality, which only just degenerates into violence and murder as his life seems to completely unravel on-screen.
More creepy insights into the life of Sheriff Lou Ford emerge when he opens a book in which he keeps some old sadomasochistic photographs and reminisces over an experience as a young boy when a young women introduced him into such sexual activities. Supposedly, this only ignited a taste in him for increased levels of violence throughout his life that only later degenerates beyond perverse sexuality into full blown violence and murder.
Some scenes such as Sheriff Lou Ford putting out a lit cigar in the hand of a panhandler only serve to illustrate his desire to cause pain to others as his disturbed personality only descends into a full blown freefall. Equally disturbing is the fact that his brother took false responsibility for a sex crime that young Lou Ford committed, putting him in prison, while the dangerous brother continues to run free and cause more and more harm to others whom his life touches. Casey Affleck is such a great actor here. This is the best role that I’ve seen him in.
This film debuted at the Sundance film festival, and quickly won praise from many critics although many still had strong reservations about the violence and perverse sexuality inherent in this film. A parents advisory about the content of the film reads like a huge laundry list of outrageous sexual acts and violent scenes. However, for someone with a strong stomach for a gritty crime film, THE KILLER INSIDE ME is a really great film despite such strong content.
The Bottom Line: A very tough film, but a great period piece crime film that really satisfies. And there is the added bonus of actress Jessica Alba featured in a highly sexual role that might just please more than a few of her legions of fans who wish to see her that way. +++(Three Stars, good. Buy or rent this very good film. What a great adaption of an old 50’s crime novel).