When watching Killer Joe, there’s a feeling that surely people like this don’t exist? Perhaps all societies have lowlifes living out such a meagre and immoral existence that they’re pressed into repugnant actions.
But surely there are no worse scumbags than Director William Friedkin’s trailer dwelling Smiths, so trashy that selling their mother just wouldn’t do -no worse, have their mother killed and peddle their daughter!
Emile Hirsch’s thick headed plotter Chris is arguably the most abhorrent of the clan, completely credulous and degenerate when arriving at a plan to have mom murdered after news reaches him of a $50,000 life insurance policy and a local Texas lawman, Killer Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) qualified enough to execute the hit.
Dad, Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church) goes with it, second wife, Sharla (Gina Gershon) sits back with even greater disrepute waiting for her share. Daughter Dottie (Juno Temple) would appear to be the sole beneficiary of the dirty cash.
When Chris reveals to not having the green to secure Joes’ killer services, Joe takes Dottie as “a retainer”; Joe proving to be an even worse reprobate than the company he now keeps.
When Joe gets his feet under the family table, McConaughey clearly revels in a scandalous role, conveying hilarity and equal intimidation. A humiliating finale involving a KfriedC drumstick reveals even greater levels of depravity, equally hilarious as it is unsettling.
Killer Joe is Texas grime-crime at its best, and native McConaughey’s central dissolute turn is brilliant. A fine support cast too treads the fine line between distaste and comedy; expertly guided by a director clearly meaning to shock, but understanding the absurdity of such beings, to cleverly satirise a breed of American lowlife.
Never a stranger to controversy, Friedkin makes no apology for graphic plotting and characters, carrying out obscene actions and scheming, that without black humour would surely be too uncomfortable. Killer Joe’s dark laughs come perfectly timed within grim episodes, to ultimately parody rather than truly disturb, and is much better for it.
(Blu Ray,LoveFilm by post)