Killer Joe.


Best known for The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973) William Friedkin’s Killer Joe (2012) is the second adaptation of a play by Tracy Letts, the first being Bug (2006) a disturbing film that probes the blurry lines between paranoia and nightmarish reality, an intense mind bending psychological thriller.

William Friedkin’s latest movie is a family drama, not your average mum, dad and one and a half kids living in a two story semi in some ‘tidy’ Newtown, but a very dysfunctional Texas trailer park family that includes father Ansel Smith (Thomas Haden Church) a motor mechanic who is none to bright, his adulterous waitress wife Sharla (Gina Gershon) and Ansel’s nubile daughter Dottie (the splendid scene stealing Juno Temple). Dottie’s brother Chris (Emile Hirsch) lives with their estranged troubled, alcoholic mother Adele. When Chris’s drug dealing debt’s catch up with him he hatches a plan to kill his mother who has a life insurance policy that pays out a substantial sum of money on her death to the bequeathed Dottie. Sharing this plan with his father they decide to hire a professional killer in the form of Joe Cooper a detective in the Dallas Police Department who moonlights as a contract killer. Joe demands his fee up front, which is something father and son are unable to do, they offer Joe half of the $50000 insurance money. He agrees as long as he is given a retainer namely sexual access to the virginal Dottie.

The sinister Joe Cooper.

In this dark tale of violence, sex and betrayal Friedkin manages very successfully to convey a great sense of evil mainly in the form of Killer Joe, played with sinisterly threatening menace by Matthew McConaughey, a character on the same wavelength as the sadistic cop in Michael Winterbottom’s The Killer Inside Me (2010). McConaughey, following up his serious role in last years Lincoln Lawyer, has made quite a transformation from his ‘nice guy’ rom-com roles he was best known for, a similar transformation that Henry Fonda, another ‘nice guy’ made in Once Upon a Time in the West(1968) when he became a child killer.

The nubile Dottie.

This extremely well made blackly comic slice of American film noir is not for everyone and I can assure you your never look as a piece of KFC fried chicken in the same light ever again. But if you enjoy a hardboiled violent cinematic experience this is the film for you.

A family that scheme together don't always stay together.