McConaughey is compelling in nasty neo-noir. 

Killer Joe is the second collaboration between Oklahoma playwright Tracy Letts and veteran director William Friedkin (The Exorcist, The French Connection), following the 2006 horror sleeper Bug.

Somewhat less contained than that hotel-room-bound film and far more lurid, this Texas-set neo-noir concerns a trashy makeshift family — working-class dolt Thomas Haden Church, conniving girlfriend Gina Gershon, drug-dealer-in-trouble son Emile Hirsch, and baby sis Juno Temple — whose collective greed and desperation results in a scheme to kill Church's ex-wife and Hirsch and Temple's mother in order to collect the insurance money. To pull this off, they hire Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey), a black-clad policeman who moonlights as a killer-for-hire.

Killer Joe seems devised, in large part, to turn McConaughey's title character — a suffer-no-fools psychopath whose usual "code" is set aside when he takes an unhealthy interest in Temple's ostensible family innocent, whom he keeps as collateral in lieu of advance payment for the job — into an iconic villain, on the order of Dennis Hopper's Frank Booth (Blue Velvet) or some of the frightening figures played by Robert Mitchum (in Cape Fear and The Night of the Hunter, particularly). McConaughey — increasingly an on-screen presence who's difficult to harness, for good or ill — is up to the challenge. He's the most compelling aspect of a nasty little film that, despite being pretty well-plotted, ultimately lacks much value beyond the prurient.

Perhaps surprisingly, Killer Joe's misanthropic, mischievous shocks are more reminiscent of horror filmmaker Rob Zombie's early work (particularly The Devil's Rejects) than any noir antecedents. And the film's final, now infamous conflagration — the scene that earns the NC17 rating that the filmmakers apparently sought to get rather than avoid — is unpleasant but darkly funny as the solution to a self-imposed problem: How do you construct what is essentially a hardcore pornographic scene without technically crossing that threshold?

Killer Joe
Opening Friday, September 28th
Studio on the Square

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite
Killer Joe
Rated NC-17 · 103 min. · 2012
Official Site: www.killerjoethemovie.com
Director: William Friedkin
Writer: Tracy Letts
Producer: Nicolas Chartier and Scott Einbinder
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, Juno Temple, Marc Macaulay, Lori Eden, Danny Epper, Kylie Creppel and Scott A. Martin

Trailer


Now Playing

Killer Joe is not showing in any theaters in the area.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
    • The Meg

      Jason Statham gets ripped and fights giant sharks. Are you not entertained?
    • Memphis Film Prize 2018

      Ten local films compete for $10,000 in the 2018 Memphis Film Prize
    • Sorry To Bother You

      Boots Riley’s political satire aims to Make Movies Weird Again

Blogs

Music Blog

Jose Feliciano Plays Unannounced Memphis Gig

Hungry Memphis

Welcome back, Restaurant Iris!

Music Blog

Gillian Welch Wows GPAC

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Alpha

Intermission Impossible

In Praise of "Love and Murder" at Playhouse on the Square

News Blog

MATA Looks to Hire More Trolley Operators

Music Blog

Listen Up: Cruelty of the Heavens

News Blog

VIDEO: SUV Driver Swerves Into Cyclists

Intermission Impossible

Ostranders to Honor Memphis Performers Who Died During 2017-18 Season

ADVERTISEMENT

More by Chris Herrington

  • Last Words

    In "Enough Said," James Gandolfini makes his last lead film role his best.
    • Sep 26, 2013
  • Hayes Carll at the Hi-Tone

    • Sep 19, 2013
  • Masters of Sound

    New albums from two of Memphis’ most distinctive stylists.
    • Sep 19, 2013
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Fifty Shades Darker

    America gets the boundary pushing lifestyle porn it deserves
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Ready Player One

    Spielberg mines the past and present in this virtual adventure
    • Apr 6, 2018
  • I Am Not Your Negro

    Raoul Peck’s documentary brings James Baldwin’s words to an America that needs to listen.
    • Feb 24, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2018

Contemporary Media
460 Tennessee Street, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation