Director William Friedkin has made everything from the good (The Exorcist, The French Connection) to the bad (Jade, The Guardian). The one thing that is constant is his maverick sensibilities as a film maker. There is always a kinetic energy within his films weather you like them or not. Killer Joe is a perfect example of such. After the brilliantly paranoid Bug, Friedkin has re-teamed with it’s writer Tracy Letts to give us this dark twisted tale. With an array of dysfunctional trailer trash characters that are far from likable, the film stars Emile Hirsch as Chris, who owes money to some bad people. He visit’s his dad (Thomas Haden Church) and his step mother (Gina Gershon) in their trailer park home, with a plan to have his mother killed and claim the insurance money. The man for the job is a detective Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who works as a hit man in his spare time. McConaughey has never been better in a role that is both sinister, creepy and smooth all at once. The clicking sound of his ZIPPO lighter working as his own personal theme tune as he casually saunters around like the devil himself. With no money up front, the family have no other option to offer Chris’ young sister Dottie (Juno Temple) to Joe.
It is a very uncomfortable film in many ways. Tackling unsettling a story while finding the humor amongst such a repugnant situation, it walks a very fine line. Temple is another stand out performance as the sweet and somewhat troubled southern bell Dottie. She shines as a little ray of innocence amongst the grimiest surroundings. Friedkin himself has that this is quintessentially a new take on Cinderella, with her Prince Charming a hired killer. The scenes with McConaughey will make your skin crawl. The tension builds until the climatic finale witch pushes everything up to 11 and provides Killer Joe with its infamous moment. I wont spoil it here, but it is the most appalling act involving a peace of fried chicken captured on film. After putting you of having a bargain bucket for life, it ends in a frantic and sudden ending, leaving you in amazement in what you just saw. Friedkin plays with the audiences tastes and threshold, taking us paces where never wish to go, and then invites us to laugh at the ludicrousness of it all.