PictureThe Killer Inside Me comes to Blu-ray with a solid but far from stellar video presentation that suits the gritty material but seldom truly shines. The 1080p High Definition rendition comes framed in the original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1. Detail is generally good, really standing out in a few moments – both long shots and close-ups – but also coming across as distinctly variable. It can dip into seemingly random softness, most notable during the low-level lighting scenes. The biggest problem is the skin tone, oddly, everybody coming across as distinctly pinkish (apart from the gorgeous Alba). It seems incongruous with the largely bright, blaring sun, which lights up every single shot but appears to have no real effect. Perhaps some of it is glare, and I know that the filmmakers were aiming for a really dull, colour-less palette, but they went a bit too far. A few items break free – both sunflower yellow, sapphire blue and deep red cars standing out amidst the black and cream majority – and reasonably solid blacks round off an image that is, for the most part, pretty decent, but is nevertheless brought down by a couple of hard-to-miss foibles.
SoundThe accompanying DTS-HD Master Audio track does the best it can with the fairly limited, often front-heavy material. The dialogue is presented reasonably coherently across the production, but for Affleck, whose often (suitably) quiet and subtle introspection can – together with his Southern drawl – make comprehension a harder task. I was almost tempted to switch on the subtitles during the piece, as playing the movie loud during the more violent sequences is just... well, even more disturbing. Effects are reasonably well-observed, although the ambient noises seldom create an obvious atmosphere – instead it’s just the car noises and more overt background actions that can be heard. The score adds to the drama, accentuating the more unsettling aspects – particularly with its frequent breakout into ‘50s song tracks. Bass gets little input, but the punches certainly sound thumpingly realistic, and the gunshots ring true. An acceptable, if unexceptional track.
ExtrasThe Behind the Scenes Featurette is 24 minutes long and shot using a camcorder, showing the filmmakers actually shooting the movie, with on-set anecdotes from various cast and crewmembers, talking about their own experiences with the production (it had been gestating for over a decade), their feelings about the movie, or just chatting on their mobile phones. It’s true fly-on-the-wall stuff, sometimes insightful, sometimes irrelevant but always honest. Many of the key players pop up and contribute, and it can be at times difficult to understand who we are supposed to be listening too (as there is so much background chatter) but this is a nice accompanying piece – just about as far from EPK as you can get.
There are also three accompanying Interviews – each unfortunately lasting only about 3 minutes. Casey Affleck talks about working with Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Director Michael Winterbottom, his character’s initial motivations, and doing the extremely violent scenes; Jessica Alba reflects on Jim Thompson’s characters, the dark love story, and women in the 50s; and Kate Hudson discussing reading the influential novel, taking the role, the character she played and working with the Director. I can’t honestly see how they could have gotten any more information into such short snippets, but it’s still far too brief and just leaves you wanting more. Still, as with the Behind the Scenes Featurette, this is pure raw footage here – with no promo sequences to pad things out – which is certainly to be commended.
VerdictHonestly, if you can stomach the (in my opinion, unnecessary) brutality of this movie then you will find it to be quite an interesting, well-paced, serial killer slow-burner. Jessica Alba surprises in one of her first mature roles, and Casey Affleck is compelling as the central character that drives the whole thing, in a film that occasionally feels like his earlier The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford drama, only in a ‘50s Texas setting. Still, the beating sequence in this movie will largely be the determining factor as to whether you like it, loathe it, or appreciate but just can’t stomach it – as with Irreversible and Nil By Mouth. Personally, whilst I ‘appreciate’ the two mentioned movies as quality dramas, the violence in this movie was just too much, and the reward for watching the film was just not enough. It’s intriguing, at times quite original, but it still leaves a very unwelcome taste in your mouth.
On Region B-locked UK Blu-ray The Killer Inside Me looks reasonably good and has quite a nice aural accompaniment, and whilst the extras are a bit thin on the ground, what we do get is extremely lean and packed with raw information/footage. Fans will want to pick up this release, but those who are curious about it should seriously consider all my warnings. For all the curiosity I had about seeing what all the fuss was about, it really wasn’t worth the fact that I can’t undo what I have now seen. At times unrelentingly brutal feels like a quality project that has just gone that little bit too far. Like twenty-punches-to-the-face too far. Caution ahead.
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