Review: Killer Joe

August 8, 2012, 8:03 am
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Maybe it's the fact that Matthew McConaughey's ubiquitous Texas drawl is more played out than that unmentionable Carly Rae Jepsen track.

Maybe it's the fact that tight shots of female genitalia aren't as shocking as some filmmakers would have you believe.

Or maybe it's the fact that Killer Joe is a dreadfully dull black comedy that reckons it's infinitely more provocative and shocking than it actually is.

Whatever your pick, Killer Joe is a unexpectedly sluggish respray of the age-old: "When you play with fire..." yada, yada, yada.

McConaughey is the title character, a Dallas detective who pads his expense account with work as a contract killer. His services are called upon by trailer park dweller Chris (Emile Hirsch) who wants to collect on the life insurance policy of his malevolent mom.

Chris' dad (a delightfully dim Thomas Haden Church) and new wife/stripper Sharla (an always fearless to get butt-naked Gina Gershon) get in on the plan but it's Chris' sister Dottie (Juno Temple channeling Renee Zellweger) that Joe has his eye on as a "retainer fee" in light of his usual $25K up-front policy.

Things devolve exactly as expected under lauded director William Friedkin, culminating in one of those endings that tries so very hard to be outrageous but only succeeds in being blasé.

Somehow the thing garnered an NC-17 rating even though the level of violence is tepid compared to your typical torture porn offering. The aforementioned nudity isn't gratuitous enough to get slapped with the harshest of theatrical tags so I'm somewhat bewildered as to what the reasoning was - the only interesting discussion to be had here.

McConaughey has played a less lurid version of the same character roughly 58 times before - just weeks ago in Bernie. Aside from Joe's disturbing sexual interest in the rather-young-for-his-age Dottie, what's McConaughey doing that's new here? Nothing.

While the tagline: "A totally-twisted, deep-fried, Texas redneck trailer park murder story" is a work of art, Killer Joe is solely a flick earmarked for a short run on Cinemax. Nice try though marketing department.

Grade: D+

It was many moons ago in a darkened theater that my love of cinema took root as I snuck in to see my first R-rated film, Blade Runner. The futuristic vision that Ridley Scott unleashed on the screen was simply soul-expanding — spiritual even. From that moment, my mission to have that kind of magic strike again began in earnest. My hope is to be able to shine a light on films that may just have that kind of effect on you — films that may be lesser known, but not lesser in impact. 
- Erick Weber

Final Cut Scoring System
99-95% Opening night
94-90% Opening weekend
89-86% In theaters
85-83% On Demand
82-80% Netflix/Redbox
79-75% If desperate
74-70% If dozing off
69-65% If intoxicated
64-60% If comatose
Below 60% If brain dead

Erick's reviews
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