Film review: Killer Joe (4 out of 5 stars)

Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) and Dottie (Juno Temple).
Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) and Dottie (Juno Temple).
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(18) 103mins

Director: William Friedkin

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple

Director William Friedkin certainly started his career in style in the 1970s with The Exorcist and French Connection.

However, Killer Joe may well be the movie that gets him similar recognition.

Tracy Letts has adapted her 1993 play for the big screen, but a big pat on the back should go to an excellent cast that make this very dark comedy/drama a compelling production.

It’s not easy viewing, hence the 18 certificate. There’s full-frontal nudity and there are some violent scenes. Plus there’s a scene with a cooked chicken leg that would have given the film an 18 certificate on its own.

But Friedkin is good at creating a brooding atmosphere, raising the tension to high levels.

Matthew McConaughey has somewhat reinvented himself in this movie - forget his rom-com roles. As Killer Joe, he exudes malevolence and potential violence.

The plot sees young Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) in debt and facing an unpleasant end if he doesn’t find the money.

With his rather simple dad (brilliantly played by Thomas Haden Church), he plots to kill his mother, get the insurance money via his sister Dottie (Juno Temple) who is also not the brightest spark and solve all his problems.

However, the assassin they ‘employ’ is police detective Joe Cooper who murders people to earn some extra cash.

Soon everything goes wrong, especially as Killer Joe takes a liking for Dottie, much to Chris’ anger (a suggestion of a too friendly brother/sister relationship).

If you like your films all tied up neatly at the end then you might be frustrated by this one.

However, if you enjoy watching actors in top form and top quality direction then Killer Joe is well worth a watch.

Steve Payne

Screening courtesy of Cineworld Crawley