Controversial Noir Adaptation Causes Walk Outs
Michael Winterbottoms 'The Killer Inside Me'

It’s been talked about in the same hushed tones as pre-release ‘American Psycho’ with regards to its graphic depictions of violence against women. ‘The Killer Inside Me’, based on Jim Thompson’s pulp novel from the 50’s appears to be as close to a genuine horror film as is possible to get these days, in its unflinching, excruciating representation of casual brutality. The difference of course being that ‘Psycho’ was humorous and deeply ironic with a good portion of the violence happening off camera.

This is certainly not the case with Michael Winterbottom's recent adaptation (previously filmed in the 70’s with Stacey Keach in the lead role). Premiering at the Sundance film festival earlier this year ‘Killer’ is an unflinching portrait of a psychopath with (for some) unpalatable depictions of violence that are reportedly forensic in terms of realism.

So controversial is the film that there were mass walk outs when it was shown recently at the Berlin Film Festival. Michael Winterbottom has defended his project by claiming he needed to stay true to the novel and "Loads of films promote violence as entertainment, but I don't think this one does and neither would I want to do something that's going to encourage violence."

West Texas deputy sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is on the surface an amiable, softly spoken lawman. However, in actuality he’s on the brink of unleashing great darkness onto his local community. As it’s a thriller, it would spoil the story arc to reveal too much of the plot here. Kate Hudson takes a bold role as girlfriend Amy and Jessica Alba is on board as hooker Joyce.

From the trailer the cinematography certainly looks as impeccable as a classic noir should and Casey Affleck is definitely a performer to watch, increasing in chops with every role he takes (see his standout performance in ‘The Assassination of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford’).

What remains unclear is the need for such a film in a post-modern climate? Analysis on the impact of exposure to violence remains a hot topic in light of ‘torture’ movies such as Hostel & Saw. Do we need to see a woman’s face being burst to a pulp in extreme close up? Some may claim it depraved voyeurism, others concede it's depicting a part of real life, no matter how discomfiting. It's certainly a million miles away from '24 Hour Party People'. Which side of the fence are you on? We're reserving judgement until we've seen the big screen treatment for ourselves.

‘The Killer Inside Me’ is released in UK cinemas on 21st May 2010.


Follow Clash: