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IN SHORT: The real "pulp" fiction. [Rated R for disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity. 108 minutes]
For those who like to categorize, The Killer Inside Me is akin to the "pulp" novels of the 1930s, as dark in tone as it is thick with characters and sex and violence. Of the latter two, the former is explicit and the latter is brutal, all set in a Fifties West Texas oil boom town where sheriff Bob Maples stands watch but the powers that be is the one behind the oil. He is Chester Conway (Ned Beatty) and, as this story begins, Conway is "concerned" about the presence of a new prostitute in town who seems to have gotten her hooks deep into Conway's not-as-smart-as-dad son, Elmer (Jay R. Ferguson). Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) is her name and, for a mere ten thousand dollars, she offers to leave Central City and Elmer Conway behind. In the complex tale that is The Killer Inside Me, it is not Joyce who is the criminal mastermind. It is Elmer, who see the potential embarrassment to his father's reputation as a way to make a quick buck and stake out a new life, with Joyce, far from "Central City."
The senior Conway is unaware of all this. He is willing to pay the ten grand but he first goes to sheriff Bob Maples (Tom Bower) for a little bit of help. Maples sends his deputy, Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) out to have a little chat with the whore, unaware that said deputy has been visiting the girl for quite a while. Something about the overall situation has triggered within the deputy old memories of the most vile kind and, with that "trigger" having been pulled, Ford establishes an alibi story -- a flat tire kept him from getting to "the scene of the (forthcoming) crime" -- and then lets loose with a brutal beating on the girl and four well placed gunshots into the head of Elmer, whose dreams of a Great Escape lasted mere seconds.
As the film unwinds we discover that Lou's sexual relations with lady of the night Lakeland involve beatings and brutality interlaced with claims of "I Love You" and "I'm Sorry." That all he sees will eventually be relayed to his real girlfriend, Amy Stanton (Kate Hudson),a perfect 50s wife archetype. Amy sees no evil and is more than willing to look the other way for the "man she loves." That, of course, will come back to bite her in a place that hurts, much later in the story. As for Lou, all of his quirks relate to flashbacks to his childhood, long suppressed memories of abuse and incest and all sorts of nasty things. That some of these flashbacks are triggered by the discovery of XXX photos of Lou's mom, hidden in a book by or about Sigmund Freud, is a plot point that shows just how far into the psyche original author Jim Thompson went.
Once the crime is "officially" discovered, all hell breaks loose. The senior Conway offers big bucks for the murderer of his son. The union organizer, Joe Rothman (Elias Koteas), is concerned that none of his guys were involved. The DA Howard Hendricks (Simon Baker) wants a clear cut case and an apparent vagrant (Brent Briscoe) has seen too much and thinks he can shake the deputy down for some quick bucks.
As for that deputy, as one of the chief investigators of the case, the deputy is in the cat seat. No one around him is safe anymore. Not the love of his life nor the dim bulb kid who pumps gas (Ali Nazary) at the local service station.. Given the power of the police in a 1950s town, it is not beyond his ability to make various "arrangements" and solve the crime in a way that no one will ever be tried and no one will ever doubt the validity of a written confession. That doesn't mean that the DA has no suspicions about the deputy. A lawyer, Billy Boy Walker (Bill Pullman), "handles" a brief imprisonment while Lou has an in-jail chat with the aforementioned dim bulb, and puts the final touches on his master plan.
When all is said and done, the only one that can bring deputy Lou Ford down, when all fingers finally start pointing his way, is deputy Lou Ford. We don't give away endings on this site. This one is filled with surprise and . . . well . . .this is 50s pulp writing, dear readers. It is thick and tricky. It is filled with testosterone and packed with more story than most modern films care to deliver. Visually, it is tough enough to, at times, turn your stomach.
It is as dark as any pulp I devoured in my teens, fifty years or so after (they) were first written. We suspect the audience will split down the center on this one. The Killer Inside Me is a tough movie to sit through -- if you haven't figured that out before you shell out your hard earned bucks, we have to ask What were you thinking?
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Killer Inside Me, he would have paid . . .
$7.50 less a buck for the explicitness -- The MPAA Film Rating is dead on correct in its explanation.. Chick flicks yield tears. The opposite kind heads deep into the forbidden zones of sex and violence with an unstoppable furor. That is, of course, until it stops. <g>
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