Director William Friedkin has made a career out not being pigeonholed into a genre. I am sure that was not an easy task when you are behind such a classic as The Exorcist. Still, when you see other films like The French Connection, Cruising, Blue Chips, and Bug and you will see evidence of a man who won't be stuck in a corner, a man who wants to tell stories no matter where they come from. Rather than play it safe, he looks for new worlds to play in, new stories to tell. His latest film, Killer Joe, is another step in that search for stories, offering up a playground of rednecks, killers, murder, and black comedy.
Killer Joe is a strange movie, a Southern-fried tale of revenge, murder, and weirdness. It is a spellbinding concoction that feels a like a mash up of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers. Even with all those adjectives, Killer Joe is also a straightforward tale that takes its time to setting up its characters before letting the weird set in and getting a full head of steam behind it. It is kind of like running downhill and trying to stop, it does not end well.
The film opens with Chris (Emile Hirsch) banging on the door of his father's trailer in the middle of the night in a rainstorm. After being let in he tells his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), that he is in trouble. He has been kicked out of his mother's house and is in deep with a local drug boss. Fortunately, the none too bright boy has hatched a plan to save his hide.
Chris and his father set out to hire Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey), a creepy local detective who moonlights as an assassin. The big idea is to kill Chris's mother for the insurance money, whose beneficiary just happens to be his younger sister, the naive Dotty (Juno Temple). The payout would be enough to pay Joe, get Chris right with the drug boss and have a little to spare.