There's weird and then there's good weird. Killer Joe
falls into the latter category. Very deliberate and expertly delivered, the film grabs your attention in the first minute and holds it for the next 90, not letting go for a second. It's not for the easily offended or soft hearted, but it is definitely worth your time and money.
Chris (Emile Hirsch) owes some dangerous people a lot of money which he doesn't have to give them. His most viable solution is to kill his negligent mother, collect the insurance money and pay his debts. Unfortunately he doesn't have the nerve to do it himself. But he does know of someone who kills people for a fee: Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). With the support of his father (Thomas Haden Church) and the help of his sister, Dottie (Juno Temple), Chris hires Joe. But the price may be more than he is willing to pay.
This family is beyond dysfunctional. Their treatment of each other ranges from caring to outright hostile, and can flip from one extreme to the other in a single conversation. But the whole thing becomes more twisted as the story progresses. Joe imposes himself on their family, driven by his obsession with Dottie. While there is some initial apprehension about Joe's interest in the innocent teen, there is limited protest from anyone - including Dottie. This element of the film expectedly evokes a variety of feelings and reactions from the audience, ranging from disgust to disbelief. Nonetheless, it is a significant part of the narrative. Church’s role is small, but he dominates the scenes in which he features with few words and a straight face.
The acting was outstanding. Hirsch does not disappoint, delivering a stellar performance. It's clear the dialogue is straight from the script because it's so precise, but he still makes each line his own. The desperate Chris is a demanding character and Hirsch goes well beyond the minimum requirement. Temple's whimsical Dottie is flawless. She finds the perfect balance between sweet and pure, and disturbing. She always appears to be more aware than people give her credit, though it's also easy to forget that trait when she smiles.
This is a very different role for McConaughey. Joe is not a likeable character. He is hard and seemingly heartless. This may be one of the most difficult roles the actor has played, especially in recent memory, but he is excellent. The last scene is particularly demanding (and will likely cause audiences to look at KFC differently from then on), but McConaughey throws caution to the wind and delivers a reverent performance.
is a twisted picture that is precisely executed from beginning to end.
Director: William Friedkin
Starring: Matthew McConaughey
, Emile Hirsch
and Juno Temple