Killer Joe

Viewed – 16 December 2012 DVD

The Exorcist I really must sit down and watch again.  Something was definitely lost when viewing it in a crowded cinema with more people laughing than I experience in a comedy.  Oh and was The French Connection really anything other than one pretty cool car chase?  I digress.  This is the latest offering from maverick director William Friedkin, a gritty, back-to-basics indie thriller starring Matthew McConaughey playing against type as a detective who moonlights as a contract killer.


Joe (McConaughey) is hired by the desperate kid (Emile Hirsch) of a white trash family, who owing money to a local mobster, conspires to have his estranged mother murdered in order to cash in her life insurance.  Yet Joe catches the eye of innocent Dotty, the kid’s slightly simple-minded sister, and proceeds to seduce her whilst at the same time manipulating the family for everything he can get.  This is the kind of movie director John Dahl used to make a living out of (The Last Seduction, Red Rock West etc) but has a shadow of perverse sleaze and brutal violence that makes it have more in common with the controversial The Killer Inside Me.

I certainly got a lot out of McConaughey’s portrayal of the cool but deadly Joe and the movie is clearly in love with him.  Shame supporting characters are bare bones clichés and the kind of people I was hoping Joe would kill off one by one.  Hirsch of course is still the actor you get if you can’t afford Leonardo DiCaprio (or any pretty boy name actor for that matter) and the normally enjoyable Gina Gershon (with possibly her most degrading first appearance in a movie ever) is equally pointless.  Friedkin’s direction attempts cool, stylish and clever (some of the editing is purposely vague and choppy) but the down and dirty tone (with some quite sick ideas – felating a chicken drum stick??) and nasty violence overwhelmed what could have been a decent character piece.  Oh, and the ending just pissed me off.

Verdict:  2 /5

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