Killer Joe opens this weekend and if you think you’re being dragged to yet another gory slasher flick, or you’re hoping to see Matthew McConaughey star in a white-trash version of Magic Mike, please hear my warning: you couldn’t be more wrong.
When 22-year-old Chris (Emile Hirsch) finds himself in debt to a drug lord, his brilliant money-making solution is to find someone to kill his mother, so he can collect her hefty $50,000 life insurance policy. Enter McConaughey as Joe Cooper, a cringe-worthy Dallas Detective who also moonlights as a pricey hit man. After learning that “Killer Joe’s” fee is 25K in advance, Chris offers up his virgin little sister Dottie (Juno Temple) as a placeholder, and is later appalled at the strong bond the two outcasts have formed.
Killer Joe boasts an NC-17 rating, but it is extremely difficult to place the film into a specific genre. The brutal and extremely vivid fight scenes will make your stomach churn and instantly throw the film into the drama/horror bin. However, the blunt dialogue and trailer park etiquette provoke chuckles that have one instantly questioning whether or not you should have actually laughed at that, i.e. an awkward comedy.
“The film is very deliberately and cheerfully amoral,” says Matthew McConaughey at a roundtable interview in Los Angeles. After starring in this summer’s sexiest stripper blockbuster, many reporters in the room were baffled to see McConaughey take on such an intensely twisted character. Surprisingly, the newlywed actor had a similar reaction to Killer Joe after his first glimpse at the script.
“In my first read I was disgusted. I remember throwing it in the trash and going and taking a shower and wishing I had a steal brush.” The Magic Mike actor reveals, “I gave it two days and let it get out of my system and I read it again and I found myself sort of starting to chuckle and then a few laughs and then I started to really see the hilarity in it.”
Emile Hirsch echoed McConaughey’s mixed reactions to the film, “There was definitely a side of me that kind of took glee in the kind of craziness of it. As soon as I realized that there was a comedic element, I was able to like it.” Hirsh continues, “It definitely made me cringe… I mean you’re reading this thinking it’s this really straight-forward drama and then there’s this chicken bone scene where I’m like ‘Well that’s so weird for a drama to have, that’s so odd.’”
This “chicken bone scene” that Hirsh is referring to is one of the final and most horrifyingly uncomfortable scenes in the movie. Don't worry, no spoilers, but prepare to have a newfound disgust towards fried chicken that will take a couple of weeks in the fetal position and a restraining order against Colonel Sanders to get over.
Did the actors share the poultry nightmares? McConaughey seems to have a stronger stomach. “I’m more of a fan now.” While Hirsch had a more appropriate reaction saying, “I’m a big fan of K Fried C, but there may [need to] be a rehabilitation program to get me back on the chicken.”
Chicken woes aside, this film has such a provocative and unique plot that whether or not you hate it or love it, one thing is for sure: you’re definitely going to remember it. McConaughey concludes, “I thought it was going to be a 50/50 split with some people just abhorred and some people going ‘It’s a riot I love it!’ But I’ve noticed that 90 percent are abhorred and love it and going ‘Oh my god what the eff was that?!’”
It seems like Killer Joe’s publicity team already knew that audiences would have difficulty digesting and explaining this flick, so they came up with this gem of a description: “A totally twisted deep-fried, Texas redneck trailer park murder story.” Yeah, that just about sums it up perfectly.
Killer Joe hits select theaters this Friday, July 27.
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[Photo Credit: The London Film Review]