Killer Joe (2012)

Finger Lickin’ Good…

So often nowadays do actors become type-cast into particular roles and genres. You’re going to see a Michelle Rodriguez movie? Well, you know she’s not going to be wearing a dress and brandishing a sterling British accent. You’re going to see a Jason Statham movie? Well, likewise, you’re not going to be getting an engaging story about how one man battles adversity and discrimination to be taken seriously as a Spanish teacher in downtown Madrid. Unless by “adversity” and “discrimination” you mean “pimps” and “drug runners”, and by “Spanish teacher” you allude to “mean bad-ass”…

Joe… not a man you want to disappoint.

That’s why it’s so great to see an actor break out of their shackles and surprise you, like Jonah Hill in last year’s fantastic Moneyball, or Channing Tatum flexing his comedy chops in 21 Jump Street. So when someone throws the name Matthew McConaughey at you, I’d presume you’d think of the latest “first date” fodder film, such as How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days or The Wedding Planner, and not his fantastic turn in A Time To Kill. Well, chalk this one up with McConaughey‘s “non-rom-com” films… and also rack it up as one of his best.

Briefly, Killer Joe follows the exploits of a family in the backwoods of Texas as they scheme to off someone for a lucrative life insurance premium. So who do they turn to? Joe (McConaughey): the detective who moonlights as a killer-for-hire of course. As the family can only pay after the contract has been completed and the insurance claimed, Joe chooses to take a “retainer” just in case he doesn’t get his cash, and that retainer is Dottie (a captivating Juno Temple) – the young, naive daughter of the family. What ensues, for those unfamiliar with the award-winning theatre production, is an undeniably enthralling number of twists and turns as we learn how the tale of this desperate family unfolds.

What’s so great about this film is the same “just one more page” compulsion you get with all the best novels: you’re dying to know what’s coming next, due in no small part to the fantastic cast and sharply delivered dialogue. McConaughey and Temple are ably backed up by Emile Hirsch as the indebted son Chris and Thomas Haden Church as the good-for-nothing father Ansel, whose world-weary one liners provide some much-needed comic relief during some of the most intense scenes of the film. And believe me when I say “intense”. When this film chooses to get dark, it’s like wandering into a cave. At night. With a blindfold on. It can make The Dark Knight Rises look about as diabolical and dark as The Smurfs. My mind immediately leaps to parallels with 2011’s fantastic Drive, which whilst fantastic, didn’t shy away from some graphic beatings. However, Killer Joe also delves into sexual depravity on several occasions – something not seen in Drive, but don’t let that perturb you; it’s worth it. And if nothing else, I can guarantee that you’ll not look at a KFC drumstick the same for a good few weeks…

An enthralling, yet deeply sinister story of murder in darkest Texas. The entire cast shines in what surely must be one of the must see’s of the summer if you love a character-driven tale. Maybe not a film for those that are faint-of-heart or have a particular affection for the Colonel’s fried chicken…

Phage Factor:

4 Star

2 thoughts on “Killer Joe (2012)

    • Yeah me too – a real favourite of mine. Can’t wait to pick it up on DVD / Blu-ray, which is rare for me. And this was our first review on Film Phage… Kinda makes me cringe how badly written it is! But hey – got to start somewhere.

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