Brutal Beatings In “The Killer Inside Me” Shock Sundance Crowds

The Sundance Film Festival is the place for new movies to get initial buzz. For Michael Winterbottom’s film “The Killer Inside Me,” the reaction seems to be outrage. The film is an adaption of Jim Thompson’s 1952 novel of the same name, and offers a dark and cruel look inside the mind of a vicious serial killer who takes a sickening delight in torturing and murdering women. It’s an aspect of the book that Winterbottom gruesomely exploits on screen. The trailer/highlight reel shows footage of Jessica Alba’s character getting violently whipped and later beaten by the murderer, played by Casey Affleck. A beating that viewers of the film have said not only leaves Alba’s character dead, but her jaw bone exposed. The rest of her face resembles “hamburger meat.” Kate Hudson’s character is also brutally attacked in the film in a similar display of violence that leaves her with a broken windpipe. This is the story of a man who is a sexual deviant and has a dangerous mind that eventually erupts. Winterbottom has been championed by many critics for capturing that scarily unknown element that can lay dormant in anyone’s mind. But “The Killer Inside of Me” also contains some of the most graphic scenes of violence against women in film history. When the director was questioned after the Sundance screening, he didn’t give much justification for his violent portrayal of the novel, except that he wanted to capture “a sense of pleasure in the violence. The violence should be shocking.”

But when does sense of pleasure in violence become one that steps outside the screen and encourages the viewer? Where is the line between misogyny and art? And does “The Killer Inside Me” cross it? [Jezebel, Vulture]