The film, which stars Casey Affleck as psychotic killer Lou Ford, has divided audiences with its gory content, including one disturbing scene in which Jessica Alba's character is beaten until she is no longer recognisable.
A review of the film's screening at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year (10) by Damon Wise, a critic for Empire magazine, reads, "What's not very standard, however, is the violence... The cruelty in this film goes way beyond the endurance level of the average viewer... There is no artful surrealism, just bleak, bloody and unjustifiable punishment, most of it (but not only) directed against women."
But Winterbottom is baffled by the furore over the film, insisting he didn't include the shocking scenes just to provoke "controversy".
He says, "I've been a little surprised that people have found it so hard to watch the two main violent scenes. I don't think they are that visually graphic compared to other films. I think it's more to do with Casey's performance and the character of Lou and the intimacy of those scenes."
And the moviemaker is adamant he was just trying to remain faithful to the 1952 pulp novel of the same name by Jim Thompson, on which the film is based.
He adds, "I was trying to make a very literal version of the book, and the scenes are shocking in the book - they make you stop. So should it be shocking when Lou punches (Alba's character) Joyce. It should be as shocking as it would be in real life. But not in the sense that, 'Oh this'll be great because it'll cause a lot of controversy'."