Killer Joe is the second movie I was sad to have missed in 2012, so I took a break from theater going on monday night and gave it a whirl. The trailers I had seen left me expecting Dark Comedy with an emphasis on the “Dark”, yet other than that I really had no way of expecting just how incredibly f*cked up things would get. While there are more than a few incredibly uncomfortable scenes that cross even my own boundaries of decency, Killer Joe is a well acted and surprisingly intelligent film that showcases one of the finest performances of Matthew Maconaughey’s career.
When a debt puts a young man’s life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.
The majority of the movie centers around the Smith family; Chris (Emile Hirsch), his dad Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church), his sister Dottie (Juno Temple) and his step-mother Sharla (Gina Gershon). Together, they make up the shittiest family unit I have ever seen on screen, which is saying something as I’ve seen The Squid and the Whale. I’ve got to give it to the actors involved for completely selling the audience on how crappy these people really are, with the exception of Dottie who is more of an innocent, lost soul with what I only assume is some sort of mental disability. Hirsch does a great job of melting into his role as a selfish, scared kid who’s conscience eventually eclipses his instincts for self-preservation. Gershon starts out as a pretty cut-and-dried bitchy stepmother but as the plot thickens, a new layer is added to her character that adds a lot to her level of intrigue. I really enjoyed Church as the physically and mentally Neanderthal-ish Ansel, especially since he’s often the only source of comedy amid the darkness of the rest of the film. While it’s the mother that is the target of the family’s hit, we never get to
actually see her before the deed is done. Because of that, we’re left with stories of how much she deserves it from Chris, Dottie and Ansel and end up feeling perfectly okay with the idea of punching her ticket. Instead, the main object of sympathy here is Dottie, who is given to Killer Joe as a retainer in lieu of an advanced payment for the hit. Her limited mental capacity and young age make it all the more horrifying to see Joe take advantage of her in the way he does.
Now we come to Killer Joe himself. The best word I’ve seen to describe McConaughey’s performance is “Oily”, and it’s a word that he personifies with incredible ease. McConaughey turns his usual drawlish, laid-back charm and twists it into a character who’s smooth-talking on the outside and rotten to the core on the inside. On top of that, he’s also the only semi-intelligent character of the whole bunch which shows vey clearly near the end of the movie. The disorienting thing about his character is that he’s simultaneously the most interesting to watch and the most horrifying to watch. The worst part is, there is no real transition between his states of charming and downright evil, which makes it so you seriously have no idea what he’s going to do next.
- Sadly enough, this is the first William Friedkin movie I’ve ever seen
- The Fried Chicken scene is probably the most f*cked up thing I’ve ever scene in a film.
- I have even less desire to ever go to Texas now
- Never thought I’d say this, but there’s almost too much nudity here
- Favorite scene in the movie? Ansel’s Wardrobe Malfunction
The Verdict: 7.5/10 Superior
+ Amazingly slimy performance by Maconaughey
+ Plot twists enough to stay interesting
+ Some great Dark Comedy style banter between Chris and Ansel
- Often incredibly difficult to watch, is certainly not for the weak of stomach
Rotten Tomatoes: 77%
Cinematic Corner: 98/100
Marked Movies: 4.5/5
Dan the Man Movies Reviews: 7.5/10
Cinematic Katzenjammer: 6.0/10
Fast Film Reviews: 3/5