Getting together with Pulitzer-winning playwright Tracy Letts has rejuvenated director William Friedkin, and four decades on from The French Connection and The Exorcist, his adaptation of Letts’ startling 1993 debut simply buzzes with energy. This sulphuric cocktail of Jim Thompson and Tennessee Williams centres on hapless hustler Emile Hirsh, deep in debt to a local crime lord, who cooks up a plan to have his own mother murdered for the insurance pay-out. He needs professional assistance however, which is where Matthew McConaughey’s Killer Joe comes in, an individual of unique moral flexibility who’s both an assassin for hire and a detective in the local police.
We’re talking the trashiest of white trash here, and the very blackest of comedy, as the movie knowingly takes its Southern-fried noir carnage right over the edge, brilliantly staged by Friedkin and shaped round a career-changing turn from sleekly sleazeoid McConaughey. Be warned though, you’ll never look at a chicken drumstick quite the same way again! (Notes by Trevor Johnston.)