You might have often heard about a movie, where a critic praises the actors and director but finally add a phrase like, "this may not be for everyone." That's the way to often describe a movie, which contains vile or violent images. The sexually perverted, suddenly violent and darkly humorous "Killer Joe" is one of that kind. It is rated with NC-17 and it thoroughly deserves the rating. Killer Joe might either make you awestruck with surprise or runaway screaming.
Veteran director William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) has retained his touch after all these years, with "Killer Joe.' Matthew McConaughey, in the title character, gives a perfect performance as a sadistic psychopath, who is also a detective. The film is a high, black comedy of low taste, a work of blood-spattered skill and conviction made by people sick of edible studio products.
PlotThe story takes place mainly in a Texas trailer park. Chris (Emile Hirsch) comes to the trailer, one rainy night to his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) after his alcoholic mother steals the cocaine he needs to sell. Chris owns $6,000 to the bad guys, he asks his father to give him at least $1,000 to hold them off. Ansel has never had that much money, so Chris offers a plan to acquire $50,000.
The plan is to kill his mother, who has recently took out a life insurance plan with Chris' sister, Dottie (Juno Temple), as the beneficiary. Young Dottie lives with her father and a scheming step-mom, Sharla (Gina Gershon). All the four members of the family accepts this offer, but how to kill one's own mother. So, Chris approaches a police detective, Joe (Matthew McConaughey), who does a part-time job as a hit-man. Joe demands $25, 000 up front. He finally accepts deferred payment but demands a retainer. Impressed with their initial meeting, Joe demands Dottie as the retainer.
You might think, the family gets enraged with the idea, but bizarrely they endorses the idea. Ansel, even comments, "it might do her some good." Chris is the only guy, who loathes this idea but his dire financial predicament limits his options. There is a professional killer and a homicidal family, so what could go wrong? Well, everything.
AnalysisMatthew McConaughey as Joe, the laconic Texas dude, controls situations with a few well-chosen words and comes off as a middle-class in this landscape of poverty, which makes us eager to overlook the entirely evident fact that he’s also a monster. He has recently begun to show new depths, perhaps spurred by a sense of mortality encouraging discretion in his roles ((This turnabout includes not only heads-up roles in auteur films like Bernie and Magic Mike, but also solid work in a genre flick like The Lincoln Lawyer.) He is really creepy in the movie, yet McConaughey plays it as if he was the most normal guy in the world. As Joe, he wields a power over the family, so one dares challenge him, nor does anyone seem smart enough to figure out how.
Hirsch plays perfect as a complete loser, with a false sense of bravado. Thomas Haden Chruch provides the dry, low-key humor and he is ideal as Ansel. Chris is let into the family trailer by a relation whose face has just been pummeled by a creditor and Ansel doesn't stop to ask what happened, but rather asks whether he has seen Bill and says he owes him $10. Gina Gershon as Sharla doesn't have a lot to do until the brutal drumstick scene and it's hard to undo that scene from your memory. Juno Temple as Dottie is fascinating because of her contradictory nature. She looks both as a innocent girl with vacant smiles and also as a depraved girl.
The Oscar winning director William Friedkin is always a filmmaker of extremes -- both visually and thematically. He digs deep into the texture of his settings. The abandoned one-table pool hall, dilapidated amusement park and ghastly strip joint are some of the settings in his hopeless world. If you feel the story is far-fetched and lurid, in the crime-movie tradition, it nonetheless resembles the kind of stupid things people do. Tracy Letts screenplay based on his play drags the audience to the savage side of life. The Pulitzer-award winning writer balances irony and empathy. Five time Oscar nominee Caleb Deschanel's lensing gives this movie much of its tone and atmosphere.
Understanding the conventions of the exploitation genre are mandatory for enjoying Killer Joe. This is a movie made up for a particular kind of audience, so anyone outside of it is likely to be shocked, offended, or some combination of both. The climactic sexual humiliation and blood-soaked scene might be difficult to watch even for many tough audience members. The ending might leave viewers frustrated, but upon reflection it looks inevitable.
Killer Joe is smartly written, impeccably shot, and beautifully acted. Watching this meticulously orchestrated, carnage of a movie is up to you.
Killer Joe - IMDb