How come every time there is psychopath running around in the movies, he has to be in Texas? I’m starting to get a complex about this (being that I live there), but I must admit the Lone Star State is a good breeding ground for characters of sinister inclinations. Killer Joe speaks for itself.
The brutal comedy, which was directed by William Friedkin (The Exorxist) and based on a play by Tracy Letts, begins by bringing us into the world of Chris (Emile Hirsh), a young man who is not only a degenerate gambler, but also in the possession of compulsive stupidity. Chris has a problem: It seems that he is into a few hoodlums for six thousand dollars because his mother stole two pounds of his cocaine and sold it. The thugs that are looking for their money advise Chris that if he doesn’t come up with the goods quick he is going to be wearing a cement jacket, so he approaches his clueless trailer-living father Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church) for the money. Knowing that Ansel will not have the money, Chris suggest they knock off Ansel’s ex-wife so that they can collect a life insurance policy for fifty thousand dollars that will go to Dottie (Juno Temple), who is Chris’ mentally challenged younger sister.
Enter Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a Dallas cop with a side job (and it is not security). When Joe is need of dough, he whacks people. Joe has been recommended as the ideal person to solve Chris’ dilemma, but when Ansel, Chris, and Joe have a pow-wow, a problem arises. Joe agrees to do the job but he wants twenty five thousand up front. We already know that our two trailer trash idiots don’t have a dime between them, but there is a solution: Joe will take a retainer.
The retainer is actually the core of the plot, so that is as far as I can go. As far as the acting goes, McConaughey is Hitchcock scary as the main character. Expressionless and shark-eyed, his southern hospitality will have you wondering whether he is a calculating criminal, or whether he is a few beers short of a six pack. Thomas Hayden Church has almost made himself a career out of deadpan countenance and at times it is so funny that it will knock you off your chair. Gina Gershon, who plays Ansel’s new wife Sharla, does a good job of portraying a mascara-wearing schemer; but everything in this movie revolves around Joe. If you’re brave enough to hang around for the finale, you might want to have a barf bag nearby. ( Rated NC-17 for graphic bloody violence and just plain brutality).