Dir: William Friedkin
With: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon
Running time: 103 minutes
AFTER last year's peely-wally festival, the organisers had to come up with something full-blooded to open this year's event. The Exorcist director William Friedkin's slice of Texan gothic will certainly shake the nerves and rattle the brains. Emile Hirsch plays a trailer trash loser in debt who thinks one way to solve his problems is to hire Killer Joe (Matthew McConaughey) to do a deed for him. Oh, what a tangled web is woven when a psychopath meets a family so dysfunctional they need a priest more than a social worker. It's only in the last, over-extended third that Friedkin's film betrays its origins as a stage play. Otherwise, he provides pure cinematic thrills, allowing the characters to fill the screen with their warped personalities. McConaughey steals the show, despite competition from Thomas Haden Church's weakling dad, Hirsch's hopeless hard man, Gina Gershon's lush femme fatale and Juno Temple's little girl lost. Sickeningly violent, Bad Lieutenant bonkers, but undeniably compelling, Killer Joe is a hopeful sign the festival is back with a bang.
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