A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this moody adaptation of a classic 1950s crime novel centers on extreme violence toward women, which makes it iffy for even the most mature teens. The violence isn't constant, but a few key scenes are intensely brutal and disturbing, with the main character -- an amoral sociopath -- slowly pummeling two women to death with his bare hands. He also has sex with several women, many times, in a violent and aggressive way. Characters also drink and smoke throughout the film, though they don't swear much.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Lou Ford (Casey Affleck) is a deputy sheriff living in a small West Texas town in the 1950s. After he's sent to investigate a girl who's thought to be a prostitute, Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba), he winds up beginning a sexual relationship with her ... and then plots to kill her boyfriend, the son of the town's wealthiest and most powerful citizen. This leads to a second murder, a false accusation, blackmail, and more murders. As his sociopathic side begins to manifest itself with increasing brutality, Lou has a more and more difficult time convincing his girlfriend, Amy (Kate Hudson); the district attorney (Simon Baker); and a local union leader (Elias Koteas) that he's innocent.
Is it any good?
The biggest issue with THE KILLER INSIDE ME is its controversial scenes of violence against women, which are highly disturbing and not at all easy to watch (and not for kids). But for mature viewers who can get past them, Affleck's Lou Ford is a fascinating character, and it's interesting to watch his mental and emotional journey. It's even possible to root for him to find some sort of inner peace.
Director Michael Winterbottom (A Mighty Heart, 24 Hour Party People) is known mainly for his heavy message movies, but he occasionally makes interesting, smart forays into other genres, and this is one of them. The movie is moody and stylish, and it develops a strong sense of place and tone to support the dark characters. It doesn't quite have the shocking punch that Jim Thompson's original 1952 novel had, but it's an intriguing effort.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's brutal violence. How did it make you feel? How does it compare to the more explosive violence seen in many action movies? Which has more impact? Why?
How does the movie depict sex? How is it connected to the violence in the film? What message does that send to audiences?
How does making the killer the main character make you feel about him? Is he the "hero"? Does the story work the same way as if a different person had been the hero?
- In theaters: June 18, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: September 28, 2010
- Cast: Casey Affleck, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson
- Director: Michael Winterbottom
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing brutal violence, aberrant sexual content and some graphic nudity
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.