Staples in the cinematic arts are varied in their contribution to the foundations of film. “The Exorcist” is one such staple in the horror genre for all its memorable scenes both on and off set. The film was controversial, taboo, everything a good horror film needs to gain traction, and it was directed by William Friedkin, whose career was cemented by the film. Based on director alone, Friedkin’s next film, “Killer Joe” has the upper hand, and I already want to see it.
Upon further inspection, “Killer Joe” is not a horror film, it is a thriller, more along the lines of one of my favorite Friedkin films, “Bug.”
Starring Matthew McConaughey in the title role of Killer Joe, and with a stellar ensemble cast, the closer I look, the more excited I am for the release of this film. Emile Hirsch plays Chris Smith, a guy who owes a debt, as is not uncommon for drug dealers. He owes $6,000, and his life in fact depends on it. Chris finds out his mother has a life insurance policy worth $50,000.
That’s where Killer Joe comes in — and he didn’t get that name by happenstance. The problem now is how do you pay a hit man when you are already six grand over your head? Compromise. Chris agrees to use his sister Dottie, played by Juno Temple, as collateral; she is to be Joe’s personal, lady friend we’ll call her, until the money comes through. Come on, that’s an equation on Tarantino’s math level.
Another plus, for me, is found in another supporting role, picked up by Gina Gershon, one of my favorites, who if I might point out, looks quite haggard in the trailer (no pun intended, it just so happens the characters reside in a trailer) which leads me to believe her character has substance, and a story worth hearing.
The entire film has a raw, gritty look about it which I find endearing. Written by Tracy Letts, who worked with Friedkin on “Bug,” I look forward to the dialogue, mainly because this film appears to be one dependent on the script and not necessarily outside conduits. I take it to be an “acting” film, which may be why McConaughey is said to have given the performance of his career. I’m ready to see what he’s truly got.
“Killer Joe” is rated NC-17 for graphic disturbing content involving violence and sexuality, and a scene of brutality. I must wonder what could be so disturbing and so brutal that an NC-17 rating was necessary. Plenty of mainstream flicks these days are progressively getting more and more violent and the sex envelope is licked, sealed, and stamped before being pushed. I am told that there is one scene in particular involving a chicken leg, and that after seeing the film I will never view chicken in the same light. I saw and was quite disturbed by the remake of “I Spit On Your Grave” and IMDB has an MPAA listing of R. Yes, there were unrated versions released, but if that can hang in the R section, I can’t begin to fathom what sent “Killer Joe” to the NC-17 side of the tracks. But I will find out come July 27 because this is one I plan on seeing opening weekend. This one is not going to be for everybody, but I have a feeling it’s going to be another Friedkin film we remember.
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