Jim Thompson might be the darkest of noir writers, but Michael Winterbottom's version of Thompson's 1952 novel reduces its mirthful nihilism to lurid unpleasantness. Casey Affleck draws on the squeaky creepiness of his role as Robert Ford in The Assassination of Jesse James to play Lou Ford, sheriff of a '50s Texas town where he gets to beat the shit out of two of Hollywood's hot young actresses, Kate Hudson as his legit girl friend and Jessica Alba as the hooker he loves.
Why all the rough stuff? Something to do with those flashbacks to past misbehavior involving underage girls and a taste for spanking, as well as a vendetta against town mogul Chester Conway (Ned Beatty), whom Lou suspects of doing in his brother.
To hear Lou himself explain it in his seductive, first-person narrative in the book, it makes a kind of horrible sense. But neither Winterbottom nor Affleck can capture the voice, and this killer has nothing inside him.