Friday, June 21, 2013

Killer Joe (2011): I'll Have Some More Of That K Fried C, Please!

What the hell did I just watch?

From William Friedkin (The Exorcist)  comes a film that is raw, blasphemous, and not at all what I was expecting.  I heard about it here and there, but never really knew what the plot was...only that Matthew McConaughey was the title character.

Well. Hmm... What can I say except this may be one of the strangest movies I have seen in the last five years or so. It is completely irreverent and ridiculous. It reeks white trash and the characters are some of the most unlikeable in film history. And yet I couldn't take my eyes off of it.  My husband said, as the credits were rolling, "that was one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen....but it sure as hell kept my attention."  Which is exactly correct.  You won't be able to stop watching, even though you'll have no idea by the end of the film, what conclusion you were supposed to draw. And I guess that's part of the fun - ??

Based on a play by Tracy Letts, Killer Joe tells the story of one of the most white trashy families you will ever meet. There's Chris (Emile Hirsch): a twenty-something small time drug dealer who has loan sharks hunting him down, Ansel: Chris's dimwitted father (Thomas Haden Church) to whom Chris goes to with a despicable plan to get the money, Sharla (Gina Gershon, here at her skankiest best): Ansel's current wife and a woman just about as raunchy and useless as you can get, and Dottie (Juno Temple): Chris's younger sister who seems a little on the touched side but knows more about life than all three of the other characters put together.

Into this rag-tag team of misfits walks Joe Cooper. Killer Joe, if you will.  When Chris and Ansel come to him with their plot to murder Chris's mother (Ansel's ex-wife) Adele (pronounced "A"-dell, not Ah-dell), we meet a seemingly charming police detective who has a little venture of murder-for-hire on the side.

Sure, Joe would be happy to take care of business for our dynamically defective duo, they just have to come up with $25,000.  When you think about how ridiculous it even is to think about paying someone twenty-five grand to kill someone so you can get an insurance policy payout so you can then pay off your loan shark you see the craziness of the situation.

You see, A-dele's current boyfriend has fessed up that her insurance policy is worth fifty grand and Dottie is the sole beneficiary. Lucky for all of them, they've met Joe - who says it's easy-peasy to off mama, but you must follow all his rules. Unfortunately, rule number one is the twenty-five grand needs paid in advance.
Well hells bells! That "ain't gonna work" cause obviously they don't have that kind of money or Chris would just pay his fucking debt and there would be no movie.

BUT. And here's the catch.  Killer Joe has already met little miss Dottie and took a shine to her, so he figures if they are willing to use Dottie as a retainer, Joe is willing to kill Adele and wait for the insurance payout.
And as you probably already deduced, things are not going to go according to plan in redneck-ville.

First off, Dottie isn't as stoo-pid as we are first led to believe.  Secondly, sleazy Sharla has a secondary plot up her cooter (which incidentally she shows off in the first five minutes of the film, when she opens the trailer door wearing a short ratty t-shirt and nothing else.)  Thirdly, Joe really is a debonair yet entirely cold-blooded killer. But as threatening as he is, he has unquestionable feelings for young Dottie.

When things all go south, as they usually do in these kinds of films, we end up with the following: a murder, an affair, several thorough beatings, plenty of lurid sexual acts, a double-cross, a continually barking dog, oh! - and oral sex involving dead poultry. Can you say uncomfortable viewing? This is an NC-17 flick, and rightfully so.

I'm actually not sure if I recommend this film or not. I will say it is brilliantly directed and acted, with Matthew McConaughey being the star at the top of the tree. He exudes such quiet menace, while still being charming as hell. He truly gets into his roles, and though I may be chastised for this, I really feel he is an underrated actor. He totally makes this entire film - though Haden Church is always good for a laugh, and Juno Temple is very certainly a rising star we are sure to see much from in the future.

There is plenty of violence, heaps of offensive acts and foul language, a fair amount of the red stuff, and a simplistic plot that delivers a darkly comic punch - particularly in the last act. I can't imagine this movie being brought to the stage, but that's where it originates from. Go figure.

So while it may not have won rave reviews, it's worth a look. Especially for laughs and gasps of WTF caliber.
Just take my word for it and DO NOT eat chicken whilst you are viewing.
Don't ask.


Michele (TheGirlWhoLovesHorror) said...

This is a movie that I really liked on some level, but felt so dirty for liking it. The comedy element completely threw me, because the movie is hilarious - it's just in the most uncomfortable context. I can definitely appreciate Killer Joe for what it is, and the acting is just freaking brilliant by everyone involved.

Christine Hadden said...

Agree 100% with you, Michele. I had no real idea of what to expect with this film, and even after watching for probably thirty minutes I still wasn't exactly sure if I was watching a comedy, a thriller or a smut film. Yikes, that was one wild ride!
And the chicken!!!

James Gracey said...

The tone of this was insane, but it still worked really well. Such an intense, unsettling film. And yeah, the chicken! My heart was in my mouth. The performances - particularly McConaughey and Gershon - were so raw. The dark humour really sets it apart, too. With this and Bug, Friedkin has created some of the most intense, disturbing psychological dramas I've seen in recent years.

Christine Hadden said...

James: Yes, agreed - that Friedkin is one surprising director. This film was so far out of hand, so bat-shit crazy, that like Michele, I felt dirty for watching and enjoying it. I'd say it's dark humor done right!

bluerosekiller said...

For such a true blue, good ol' Catholic boy, Friedkin certainly can churn out some of the most LURID stuff. But, in this case I LOVED it. LOL
And, while everyone else has seemingly gone out of their way to praise the performances of McConaughey & Temple ( which, ARE BTW excellent ) I happen to think that the true heart of the film lies with Emile Hirsh & his pathetic loser of a protagonist. Who's dumber than a brick, makes reprehensible decisions , but still displays just enough humanity for us to feel badly for him in the end.

Christine Hadden said...

Blue: Agreed, Hirsch's performance was underrated. Actually, all the acting in this one was above average. Strange, for such an incredibly vulgar film :)