Killer Joe

24 Feb

Director: William Friedkin (2011)

killerjoeMomma, we are not in Kansas anymore. We are in deepest, darkest Southern territory, home to the hicks and miscreants of middle-America, fuelled by gun crime, sweat and fried chicken.

Killer Joe is not for the faint hearted. And do not allow yourself to be fooled by the trailer and synopsis pitching it as a ‘black comedy’. A lesson I certainly learned the hard way… Comedy there may be, but this is as black as it comes as a father and son agree to put their mentally disturbed sister on retainer with a quietly deranged, dirty detective they hire to kill their mother so they can cash in on the life insurance to pay off some drug overlords after a deal goes bad. As I say, this is not your typical gritty thriller, this is one that as the credits roll could be as hard to clean away as the congealed fat from a deep fat fryer.

Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) is in trouble with the kind of people who you don’t want to get in trouble with – the kind with a predilection for motorbikes and pipes. And he owes a lot of money, fast. At his wits end – what few wits he has – Chris hears of a cop who moonlights as a contract killer. His cunning plan, hire the aptly named Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) to kill his layabout mother who happens to have a healthy life insurance policy so he can pay off the bad guys and leave town. The only problem is Killer Joe needs his $25,000 fee in advance. Luckily, Killer Joe has other kinds of payment on his mind – namely the possession of Chris’ younger sister, oddball Dottie (Juno Temple) until the insurance claim clears.

As the bizarre relationship between Joe and Dottie develops, Chris begins to regret his quick acceptance of the deal. But once you’re in, you’re in, leaving Chris and his father to reap the consequences of their dark plan. Though, it’s mainly Chris who feels the consequences. And by Chris, I mean mainly Chris’ face and internal organs.

McConaughey owns the sleaze as Joe, lurking in the dark trailer park shadows in his Stetson, powerful and foreboding, while Hirsch’s twitchy and battered Chris is the physical embodiment of bad decisions.
Unapologetically violent, abrasive and sadistic, Killer Joe is a bloody adventure into the darkest end of the comedy spectrum, earning its categorisation as a ‘Southern Gothic’.

You will never want to eat fried chicken again.


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