KILLER JOE (VVS, 2011) D: William Friedkin, w/ Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon. Rating: NNN; Blu-ray package: NN Rating: NNN
Jim Thompson, author of noir pulp classics The Killer Inside Me, The Getaway, The Grifters and many more, has nothing to do with Killer Joe, but his influence is all over it, from the dim-witted men and vicious or weird women to the soft-spoken psychopath and the Texas trailer-trash milieu.
Chris (Emile Hirsch) decides to murder his mother for the insurance, an idea that goes down well with his father, Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), his step-mother, Sharla (Gina Gershon) and younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple). But they can't afford the front money demanded by the titular assassin (Matthew McConaughey), so Joe takes Dottie as a retainer. Violence, weird romance and weirder sex ensue.
Killer Joe's roots as a stage play (by Tracy Letts) don't show, but they do provide the cast with meaty scenes. Hirsch and Gershon leap into Chris and Sharla's mutual hatred like cats in a pillowcase. Ansel knows he's stupid, and Church lets us see his every dim thought.
McConaughey's butter-soft politeness makes him look like a model of sanity by contrast, but the fetishized close-ups of his black leather gloves tell a different story.
The brief on-set footage and cast interviews add little in the way of information or entertainment.
EXTRAS On-set footage, cast interviews. English, French audio and subtitles.