With all the things that they can show in movies these days you rarely see any movie receive a NC-17 rating. That said the warning signs were there that Killer Joe was going to be very sexual and very violent. So if you think you have seen some R rated movies that you felt pushed the line in some scenes, go see Killer Joe and you will know what warrants the next level rating.
Brief synopsis of the plot of Killer Joe is as follows: Trouble making Chris (Emile Hirsh) shows up at his father (Thomas Hayden Church) and step mother’s (Gina Gershon) trailer one night after his mother tossed him out. Chris told his father about his financial troubles with a loan shark and how he has a plan to have his mother killed to capitalize on his mother’s life insurance policy where his simple-minded sister, Dottie (Juno Temple), is the beneficiary. With the okay from his father and Dottie, Chris enlists the services of Detective Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) who is a gun for hire on the side. Joe, however, requires a down payment that ends up being equal to half the amount in the policy to which Chris agrees to give Joe his sister as a “retainer” resulting in a power struggle between Chris and Joe. Here is the trailer:
I honestly cannot say the last time I saw a movie that was rated NC-17, let alone seen one in theaters. I prepared myself for the worse and good thing because this movie blew my mind as well as my friends’. What Killer Joe executes perfectly is a buildup of suspense in the story, the sex and violence is not just thrown at you like in a lot of other movies, instead it is built up to so that when it actually happens on screen it packs a more powerful punch that you just cannot turn away from. And the comedy in this movie is very authentic and never seemed to be said just to trigger a reaction in an audience. Thomas Hayden Church was the source of a lot of the comedy and he was great.
All the performances in Killer Joe were perfect but the actor that played the title character stole the movie. The obvious one is Matthew McConaughey, who I never really took seriously until Lincoln Lawyer but this movie gives him some really acting credit. He was charming one second and then absolutely chilling and unpredictable the next. I dare any movie fan, even those with a strong distaste for McConaughey, to walk out of this movie disappointed. It may sicken some with its content but you cannot deny how good of a job he did.
Overall, Killer Joe is a well written and acted dark comedy that is different from any movie going experience you have likely had over the last couple years. To quote a friend of mine “I do not know if I like it or hated but my view of sex will never be the same.” I give Killer Joe an 8/10. This not something you can watch over and over but something you will definitely not regret seeing.