Killer Joe is a dark and disturbing pulpish movie, It puts William Friedkin at the top as a major player of Double-wide Noir.”
Directed by Oscar winner William Friedkin, Killer Joe takes place in Texas. I won’t say it’s a Dallas county thing because you can find this hilariously sinister, Kentucky-fried, double-wide Noir anywhere in Texas, to be honest.
Tracy Letts, whose August: Osage County play is written into the screenplay for Killer Joe, works with director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection) once again, both having worked on the 2006 ultra paranoia movie Bug.
***MILD SPOILERS AHEAD***
Killer Joe has Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch), a low-life, would-be drug dealer whose momma steals his stash and puts him in the hole to a local drug dealer for $6,000, and this is soon to be the least of his problems. If he can escape death at the hands of the very charismatic drug dealer Digger Jones (Marc Macaulay), he can go on being as unscrupulous and backwards as they come. But instead he plots a more sinister hair-brained scheme of killing his momma and collecting her insurance money that will be left to his younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple), a mobile home princess who is obviously touched.
Add an alpha step-mom Sharla Smith (Gina Gershon) who has a habit of walking around the family trailer with her unkempt privates showing, and the stand-out role of the brain-like-a-sieve father Ansel Smith (Thomas Haden Church), and you’ve got a combo that could win anybody over with its screwed up antics. Now add Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey with the best role of his career, in my opinion), a smartly dressed, methodical, I-need-to-be-in-control detective who has a little side job as a hit-man.
With each and every snap of his Zippo lighter that sounds intimidatingly like the cocking of a pistol, Killer Joe Cooper shows his sexually sadistic and sometimes sickly funny characteristics that make this man a person you would never want to know, let alone double cross. I almost felt guilty laughing at times, but the movie was chock full of bizarre one-liners and dialogue that just made me chuckle at the most inappropriate times; I didn’t care.
When Dottie, who happens to be a virgin (completely surprised), becomes Killer Joe Cooper’s sexual retainer after her bumbling brother and father cannot come up with the money for the deposit on the hit, things really start to get f’d up. Guilt finally engulfs her brother and he decides that he wants his now “in love” sister back from the “in love” Killer Joe Cooper. He don’t take too kindly to that notion cause he’s ah-marrying her.
I don’t want to compare it to Blue Velvet and Dennis Hopper’s Frank Booth, but its the only thing comparable when it comes to the sexual derangement of McConaughey’s role.
As tension builds and the ultra violent climactic scene unfolds in the family trailer, I am sitting in the theater squirming in my seat hoping for the best outcome and then boom things happen that snap me out of my wishful thinking and drop me smack down into that hole of violence and despair. Let me just say, without giving away too much, that I most likely will not eat fried chicken for a while after this poultry-defiling scene unfolds that left me almost hyperventilating from not taking a damn breath.
This movie really earned its NC-17 rating without sacrificing entertainment. I am giving it a 3.5 out of 5 Nerdskulls for pure shock value alone.
The film has nudity, squirmy sexual situations, sexual violence, graphic violence, strong language and drug and alcohol abuse, and damn if I didn’t keep watching.”