Monday, September 3, 2012

Killer Joe: Movie Review


Perverted maturity and twisted humour take us through Texas and the chillingly evil plot.

A dirt road at night in Texas; the sky is dark blue, pitch black, and a streak of lightning flashes across the sky. A clunker of a car rumbles down the road and turns into a trailer park. An under-fed dog, chained out front, barks his head off, and Chris (Emile Hirsch) is banging on the door in the pouring rain, demanding Dottie to let him in. Dottie (Juno Temple) is pretending to sleep, a desire to be innocent keeping her in bed. 2011

Directed by: William Friedkin

Screenplay by: Tracy Letts

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Juno Temple, and Emile Hirsch

“Killer Joe” is based on a play by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tracy Letts, but the imagery used by director William Friedkin suggests that it was always meant to be a film. If their names are familiar, note they previously collaborated on the film version of the play “Bug” (2006) a brilliant thriller. “Killer Joe” has been described as a dark comedy, gothic horror, but it feels more like a classic film noir with touches of comedy and horror.

Chris finally gets let in by his naked step-mother and wakes up his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden-Church), because he needs money and he has a plan on how to get it. First, he needs his father to put his pants on because where they’re going, you need to wear pants. The next scene has Chris and Ansel discussing his plan in a strip club.

The plan is to hire a hit-man to kill their mother/ex-wife and collect on the death insurance money. Chris already knows who to hire: Killer Joe Cooper, the cop.

When we first meet Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey), we see his trademark brown curls peeking out from beneath his black cowboy hat, pointed boots step out onto the gravel, with gun and handcuffs securely on his waist band. He is unlike any character that McConaughey has played before, because Killer Joe is a true sociopath.

Dottie is the only one home when Joe arrives, and he immediately takes a fascination with her. As can be guessed, Chris doesn’t have the money to actually pay Killer Joe for his services; he has to wait for the insurance check to be cut, so Joe takes a retainer for himself – Dottie.

Dottie is a fascinating character. She’s a teenager raised in the middle of trailer trash so she should have the maturity and experience of a woman twice her age, instead she has has sheltered herself and acts like a girl half her age. The sexuality and nudity in this film is extreme, but it can be comforting remembering that they are actors and Juno Temple is twenty-three.

The actors are all fantastic. From Hirsch and Chris’s stupidity, to Sharla (Gina Gershon)’s two-timing, white trash ways, to Haden Church and Ansel’s disheartened acceptance of his family, to McConaughey’s coldness and Joe’s actions based on principle, and finally, to Temple and Dottie’s perverted maturity.

There are minor references to religion and coupled with some shocking violence that can make you scream in the theatre, it resembles “Red State” (2011). There’s also a scene near the end which will probably ensure that you never eat Kentucky Fried Chicken again. But the humour fused throughout “Killer Joe” both advances the plot through a number of twists, and relaxes the tension to allow you to enjoy the brilliance of the film.


Drive (2011) - Driving a slow and thoughtful character study into a full-on violent crime thriller.

Red State (2011) - This is the stuff that nightmares are mad of.