A big-screen crime thriller, shot primarily in Oklahoma in spring 2009, and starring Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson and Casey Affleck in the lead roles, has kicked up controversy at the Sundance Film Festival for its reportedly graphic and "ultra-real” depiction of violence against its female characters.
But Oklahoma Film and Music Office Director Jill Simpson said audience reaction to the film, "The Killer Inside Me,” was "split” during a question and answer session with director Michael Winterbottom following the movie’s premiere screening during the Park City, Utah, event. "There was a lady who was one of the first people to ask a question and then she basically was very vocal in her protest of the film, and then got up and walked out and people were booing her,” said Simpson, who attended the screening. There also were reports that Alba herself got up and walked out of the theater in the middle of the film, but Simpson said the actress had to leave early to catch a flight back to Los Angeles. The film, based on a novel by Anadarko-born pulp fiction writer Jim Thompson, is about a West Texas deputy sheriff (played by Affleck) whose dull personality masks the mind of a sadistic serial killer. Thompson was known for stark, noir-style stories told from a criminal point of view, including "The Getaway” and "The Grifters,” both of which became successful motion pictures. Winterbottom reportedly defended "The Killer Inside Me” during the festival Q&A, saying, "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.” Simpson admitted finding some of the more violent scenes in the film unexpectedly disturbing. "It is violent and what I will say about that is it’s very true to the original novel,” she said.