"The Killer Inside Me," a film directed by Michael Winterbottom about a psychotic Texas sheriff, is making waves at Sundance. Critics claim it shows gratuitous violence against women. On Sunday, Jessica Alba, who stars in the film, added fuel to the fire when she walked out of a screening during a scene in which she is brutally beaten, the Toronto Star reports.
Alba did not return for a Monday showing.
After the screening at Eccles Theater, audience members peppered director Winterbottom with questions about the violence and rape. Many thought the scenes were unnecessary and some even questioned why Sundance officials allowed the film into the festival. A few stormed out in a rage.
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"It's not only just about what a killer is like or how a killer behaves. It's also kind of a very dramatic version of how we all are," Winterbottom said, according to the Toronto Star.
The controversial movie is based on a novel by Jim Thompson that depicts a small-town cop transforming into a sadomasochistic killer. Casey Affleck plays the sheriff who repeatedly rapes and beats Alba's character, a prostitute. He also hurts his girlfriend, played by Kate Hudson.
The most controversial scene comes 25-minutes into the film when Alba's character is brutally and graphically beaten. Her face becomes bloody and disfigured. Part of her jaw is exposed and both eyes are swollen shut.
"The Killer Inside Me" is having trouble getting theatrical release in its current form, the Toronto Star reported.
It's not just audience members who are being harsh on the film. Movie reviewers don't seem to like it either.
Logan Hill of New York Magazine wrote that it, "may go down in history as the worst date film ever made." Logan thinks the movie as a whole is, "unrelentingly intense," and called Affleck's performance, "bizarre."
Todd McCarthy of Variety called the movie's violence "sensationalist," and guessed that it will not be marketable in the U.S.
Reuters' John DeFore conveyed his view with the headline, "'The Killer Inside Me' misses target."
Winterbottom has another film at Sundance titled "The Shock Doctrine." Despite the name, this one doesn't seem to be causing much of a stir.