Film Review: "KILLER JOE"
Published: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, August 14, 2012 12:08
If you’d have said to me five – hell, even two - years ago that in 2012 Matthew McConaughey would shine bright and become one of the most scintillating male actors in Hollywood, I may have laughed in your face or even whacked you across the face. I couldn’t have predicted the magnificent turn his career would take over the last few years, from “THE LINCOLN LAWYER” all the way to his reincarnation of Wooderson in “MAGIC MIKE,” but now it’s taken us somewhere just as special – maybe more special for McConaughey: “KILLER JOE”.
McConaughey is indeed Killer Joe Cooper, a Texas cop who will murder for hire if the price is right, and there are two pathetic southerners who are truly desperate for his efforts in the father/son duo of Ansel and Chris Smith. Chris (Emile Hirsch, one of the finest sleazeballs I’ve ever seen) has gotten in deep with some coke dealers, and he’s just learned that if his mother (Ansel’s former wife) dies, then his sister Dottie (Juno Temple) gets $50,000 from a life insurance policy.
Ansel and Chris figure that the only way out of their hole is to kill their own family member, but quickly learn that Joe doesn’t work without a retainer – so they loan out virgin Dottie to him until they can get the 50K from the insurance company.
I must say that this is a bone-chilling film. It will make you question your own moral beliefs if it doesn’t have you completely disgusted and perhaps even walking out of the theater come the climax. 74 year-old William Friedkin has already mastered the horror and thriller genres, respectively, with “THE EXORCIST” and “TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA,” and he’s intricately combined these two classifications of film together to master the script of “KILLER JOE.”
Friedkin takes everything to the extreme within his films, that is without question. A lot of the time, “KILLER JOE” may come off as a comedy because of its stupidly simple dialogue, particularly the words spoken between Chris and Ansel. They just can’t get out of each other’s ways – they’re lives are intertwined to the point where they can’t live with or without each other. This is a concept of family life that is often quite shameful; that oftentimes, family members can’t possibly bring out the best of each other no matter what the circumstances.
“KILER JOE” really takes its most ridiculous turn when the titular character commits a sadistic act involving a chicken leg and a woman – you can imagine the rest or see it for yourself; it’s downright shocking and perverted and as extreme as NC-17 American movies get. The scenes involving lustful Juno Temple and McConaughey together are further proof that this film deserved the most extreme MPAA rating, but that does not at all denounce its quality.
What else have we come to expect from William Friedkin? He’s been pushing it to the limit for years with his audacious and exploitive cinema. “KILLER JOE” is no exception - see it for yourselves.