The Killer Inside Me is a pulpy crime drama from director Michael Winterbottom and screenwriter John Curran, based on the novel by Jim Thompson. The film stars Casey Affleck as Lou Ford, a small town deputy that just happens to be a closet sociopath, and the narrative follows his unrepentant transformation into a full-blown homicidal maniac.

Narratives that are this dark in nature rarely find a successful transition to the big screen, and though the film has some early momentum and a couple of really fine performances, it just ends up feeling like a middling affair. Early word of mouth was all a twitter over how violent the film is, and early negative buzz would have some think this was a work of misogyny, but I can assure you that this is mostly just the pandering of critics who are both over-exaggerating and misguided. Is there violence? Yes, but nothing tantamount to the many violent offerings to come out of the modern Hollywood machine. And as far as cries of misogyny, well, there will always be those people who confuse content with intent.

I think that, inevitably, something gets lost when one decides to adapt a work of fiction that is told from the first-person perspective, most notably the inner dialogue. A sprinkling of narration cannot compensate for Thompson’s written word, and that is probably one of the film’s biggest misfires. Affleck is a wonderful performer and is wonderful in this movie, but all his subtlety cannot replace the malicious intent of Thompson’s prose. This, of course, is a major hindrance to the development of Affleck’s portrayal of Lou. In the book, you know who Lou is, how bad he is and exactly what he’s thinking. In the film, Lou is an obtuse mess, both meandering and calculating, confusing … you never really know him.

Having said that, I don’t think that The Killer Inside Me is a bad film, and it has a really captivating performance coming from Affleck, but it just doesn’t even come close to achieving what Donald Westlake and Stephen Frears accomplished with The Grifters back in 1990.

Grade: C

The Killer Inside Me releases in select theaters June 25.