Support Local Journalism. Donate to San Antonio Current.

Killer Joe strikes like an unapologetic Texas rattlesnake 

click to enlarge McConaughey with clothes and minus chicken drumstick. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • McConaughey with clothes and minus chicken drumstick.

If a film like 2011's sexually explicit British drama Shame taught us anything, it's that being slapped with a dreaded NC-17 rating these days doesn't always ensure a death sentence. Sure, its box-office numbers will be affected by those close-minded theater chains refusing to screen movies considered too provocative because of the MPAA label, but as the critically-acclaimed Shame proved, sometimes the content of a film is so essential to the story, it doesn't matter how uncomfortable it might be for some viewers. "I think NC-17 is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter," Fox Searchlight Pictures' President Steve Gilula said last year about the film. "We believe it is time for the rating to become usable in a serious manner."

The same can be said for the dark comedy thriller Killer Joe, but with a more tongue-in-cheek approach. Supporting the "artistic integrity" of Oscar-winning filmmaker William Friedkin (The French Connection, The Exorcist) and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Tracy Letts, the studio decided to keep the film intact and not edit it down to a more desired R rating. It was the right choice, especially since its badge of honor was earned for one specific incident in the third act of the film featuring a fried chicken drumstick. Touch that scene in any way and Killer Joe is a different movie.

Never mind the full frontal nudity, language, or hardcore violence. Besides the KFC scene, there's nothing that hasn't been seen or heard before in other NC-17 or hard R-rated movies with one other exception. As the title character, a contract killer in Texas hired to murder a mother so her twisted family can collect on the insurance policy, Matthew McConaughey is dangerously good. As the head of this diamondback-rattlesnake-of-a-film, he strikes within a sadistic realm very few actors would dare to tread. Killer Joe's venom is extremely palpable, which makes it all the more disturbing to watch.

Killer Joe

★★★ (out of 5 stars)
Dir. William Friedkin; writ. Tracy Letts; feat. Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, Scott A. Martin, Marc Macaulay (NC-17)

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, San Antonio Current has been keeping San Antonio informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources. A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to San Antonio Current. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.

Tags:

Read the Digital Print Issue

March 25, 2020

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

© 2020 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation