Directed by: William Friedkin
Written by: Tracy Letts (screenplay), Tracy Letts (play)
Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple
Just like cold, greasy, deep-fried chicken, Killer Joe is an acquired taste. Personally, I savor every moment. It isn’t the most pleasant of experiences, and it isn’t the most original story you will come across, but with its black humor, nose-smashing violence, and characters dumber than dumber, the compelling elements of Killer Joe have satisfying bite.
Chris (Hirsch) is in debt. He needs to pay off $6 000, or else. So when he hears about a cop-by-day/contract killer-by-night by the name of Joe (McConaughey), and learns his mother is sitting on $50, 000 life insurance, he puts two and two together. With his dim father, stepmother, and young virginal sister, Dottie (Temple), Chris offers everyone a split of the money to improve their trailer park lives. Only, they bite off more than they can chew as Joe wants his payment in advance. And until he does, he determinedly sets his sights on Dottie as a retainer.
Written by Tony Award winning playwright, Tracy Letts, and directed by Academy Award winning director, William Friedkin, Killer Joe is calculated carnage at its best. Drawing laughter in the right places, and shocking us enough to earn a NC-17 rating, Killer Joe makes the most of its scuzzy surroundings to evoke an atmosphere perfect for crime-gone-wrong panic.
Having said that, it’s a sure bet that Killer Joe may not be everybody’s cup of tea. With characters that fail to establish much of a connection with the audience – acting as purely functional to the comedy and plot twists – Killer Joe is saved by the character of Joe and McConaughey’s masterful performance.