It All Happens In The Dark

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A weed is a plant out of place.

The Killer Inside Me (2010)

It is the 1950s and Casey Affleck plays a deputy sheriff with an alien the devil’s spawn a killer inside of him. The movie starts promisingly enough with Fever playing and some very stylized, retro credits. Oh, but gag, the film soon sics a voice-over on us. “Out here if you catch a man with his pants down you apologize even if you have to arrest him afterwards.”

Every other scene in this film seems to be Casey Affleck (playing a deputy sheriff named Lou) fucking either Jessica Alba or Kate Hudson to a soundtrack that quickly becomes obnoxious, bludgeoning us over the head with western swing tunes. When watching sex gets boring, I am sad. It is as if every sex scene was filmed exactly the same way – in the key of mind-numbing to the tune of tedious. Total disinterest abounds.

No one here leaves a mark – Kate Hudson is the best, but she is given so little to do. The women in this film are represented in such cliché strokes – we get a bad mother, a prostitute who like rough sex and a schoolteacher who just wants to get married. And they are dealt spankings, beatings, punches and spit in their face. How ironic that Lou finds naked photographs of his mother in a Bible beside a book by Freud, and that the old images consecutively bring back memories of how mommy was WAY too hands on.

Lou is supposed to be the most intelligent person in town, even though the director tries only half-assed to make us believe it  – this deputy enjoys playing the piano and reading classics – yet he is also a malicious and calculating killer though he behaves often like someone who would not have the wit to win a game of Clue nevermind fool all of these people for all of this time and wreak such havoc.

One scene involves him chasing a blackmailer through the streets in broad daylight past neighborhood children and and into the town square brandishing a knife, after he has already fallen under suspicion and been targeted by the D.A. and  has moments before killed Kate Hudson in his own kitchen. He does concoct a ludicrous hair-brain excuse for this behavior, but I was past the point of buying any of it.

We are meant to see him as someone who is losing almost complete control, of his behavior and his mind, but there is nothing that makes any of this authentic enough to invest in, and the audience is neither enlightened or entertained along the journey. Casey Affleck is a good actor and he plays the hell out of this role but his character is such a void, such a nothing that it means so little in the end. The Saw movies are more genuine films than this, they know more about what they are and why they are – The Killer Inside Me is cinema full of sound and fury signifying nothing.

This movie goes out of its way to try and test us, to push our limits, to show us how much it can shock us, in a way that is childish and effectively castrates it by its own look-at-me-and-look-at-what-I-did awfulness. This is filmmaking so bloodless it has reached the point of anemia. The downfall here isn’t the violence or the lurid, corrupt characters who populate the film – the crime is that it is boring and insincere. There is really no reason for this film to exist – this story has been done so many times before and nothing new or substantial has been added now to warrant another telling.

As I have mentioned Kate Hudson is really the only actor who makes any kind of impression. There are two good parts in this movie and both involve her. The first is not a good scene but has a very interesting effect done very well – after Lou beats and kicks her to death, we literally see the life go out of her eyes. The only really good scene in the film is a late one involving a letter Kate Hudson’s character has written and intended – if she had lived – to give to the deputy. We see how it all would have played out, what would have happened if they had taken the trip she was under the impression they were embarking upon. She knows that he has done something – something bad – and she suspects it is indeed murder and she wants him to know that she still loves him, and wants to help him, any way she can, no matter how long she has to wait for him. She excuses herself when she gives him the letter in a diner and has written that if when she returns from the bathroom he has decided to leave, he can just put her suitcases inside the door, and she will try to find a job in a nearby town. This scene gives her more depth than any other character here has, and is the first and only real sign of any kind of humanity that exists in this world – it elevates her character out of the confines of the film. It is a delicately rewarding moment and the only honest scene in the film. Great acting here by Hudson, and the only bit of thoughtful writing in the script. But of course we cut right back to “reality” and Casey Affleck’s character, cloying as ever tosses off some dumb line that succeeds in undermining everything we have just seen and the film creaks back to the bottom.

Even in the end when a sort of justice is served, it is cheap and it cheats us because we do not care about who survived or who died too young and tragically. Does it effect us, does it change us, does it change them? No, sorry, not on the menu.

The last scene ends with the camera panning to a sky filling with smoke, and glorious release! THE END appears in white script as the soundtrack chides us: “Shame, shame on you.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. D+

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