A dark and stormy night. A young man comes bursting on the screen and bangs on the door of a trailer. He curses and yells, obviously wanting in very badly before he comes absolutely soaked. A pit bull chained to another trailer barks viciously at him. Finally someone comes to the door and the first thing you see of the occupant is her bush. This is the opening scene of Killer Joe. But it also gives you a sense of how down and dirty this film is. And also how deliciously irreverent at the same time.
Killer Joe is about a white trash family, the Smiths. Chris Smith convinces his father, Ansel Smith, to hire an assassin to kill his mother who is also Ansel’s ex-wife, and collect on her life insurance claim. They bring in Killer Joe Cooper (played with a delightful sleaze by Matthew McConaughey) who as leverage against the claim wants to have the daughter of Ansel, Dottie. Dottie is a seemingly naive young woman. The bush of the paragraph before belongs to Ansel’s current wife, Sharla. Sharla seems to only be playing a complacent role in the scheme. But everything seems to unravel right from the start.
Bruises, broken noses, smeared mascara, breasts and guns abound in this world of strange happenings. Every event, every performance and every set piece is heightened. But you believe everything that is happening because this world doesn’t backtrack. It goes full force into the action and flips you the bird as it is doing it.