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Killer Joe [Blu-Ray]

William Friedkin

Killer Joe [Blu-Ray]
8
In its own way, William Friedkin's adaptation of the Tracy Letts play Killer Joe is a gritty, sweat-stained, Southern Cinderella story not entirely dissimilar to Matthew Bright's nasty take on the Little Red Riding Hood fable with Freeway in 1996. Though raunchy, shocking and dripping with filth, captured by the small town, American South trailer park locales, an unflattering digital video aesthetic and cuisine straight out of a Piggly Wiggly, it does hint at similar overall themes. When perpetual fuck-up Chris (Emile Hirsch) devises a plan to have his mother killed by the titular Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) for insurance money, after winding up in a sticky (and bloody) situation with loan sharks, he and dim bulb father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) allow Dottie (Juno Temple), Chris's younger sister, to be put up as collateral, along with her virginity. Though not relegated to sweeping the floors or any overt verbal denigration, Dottie is ultimately a bartering chip for their greedy whimsies, given moderate consideration only by her slightly more calculating and anticipatory stepmother, Sharla (Gina Gershon). As she dances, sings, cooks and watches TV in the background, the other players run amuck, stabbing each other in the back, exacerbating the situation through sheer self-indulgence and lack of foresight. It's inevitable that punishment comes to such abject morality, much as it did to those who subjugated Cinderella, but the sleazy manner in which it's perpetrated by a police officer moonlighting as a hired killer (and prince for Cinderella) suggests Old Testament judgement and reversion to eye-for-an-eye principles in addressing modern day selfishness and lack of family values. This harsh assessment of scrappy low class American ethos is mirrored by the overall black comedy dynamic involving chicken leg fellatio and casual conversations about murder over a meal of macaroni and cheese. And while sickly hilarious and endlessly engaging, with plot twists aplenty, the aggressive visual presentation of violent and sexual acts limits the audience that will get, or appreciate, the joke. For those that are in on it all, Killer Joe is a fantastic, entertaining and perverted ride. The Blu-Ray is short on supplements, featuring only a handful of poorly recorded interviews with the actors, who discuss the rawness of the material, for the most part. There's also a "Behind the Scenes," which is literally just brief, distant, behind-the-scenes footage with little context. (VVS)
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