First Hit: A film that rides the edge of powerful, violent and absurd.
Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) lives with his mom but, unseen, he throws her up against a refrigerator. He hates her and he wants to killer her for her insurance money which will go to his sister Dottie (Juno Temple).
Chris doesn't think anything thing through and the results of his actions surprise him. He needs money because he owes $8,000 on a gambling debt and they are out to kill him.
Dottie is oddly brilliant because she actually sees what is going on but everyone else thinks she is too sensitive and slow. Chris’ father Ansel (played by Thomas Haden Church) is even more stupid than Chris.
His responses at the end of the film to questions by Killer Joe (played by Matthew McConaughey) are priceless. Ansel is married Sharla (Gina Gershon) who cheats on Ansel and has fights with Chris. Chris and Ansel hire Killer Joe Cooper to kill Chris and Dottie’s mother for the insurance money.
The plan is to pay Joe his fee and split the remaining amongst the four of them. However, Joe requires his money up front, but decides to change his terms and to take Dottie as a retainer.
Their sensual and sexual scenes are very intensely shot. When the plot fails, Joe takes charge of the family and the scene of making Sharla suck a KFC chicken leg is grossly engaging.
Hirsch is wildly good because he moves from being foolhardy and protective with the same vigor. Temple is very strong as a girl wanting to stay innocent and grownup at the same time. Church is exceptional as a low IQ guy who just doesn’t fully see what really going on and, when lost, takes direction from others well. Gershon is good as a woman who fights for what she wants and is probably the smartest one in the family. McConaughey is fantastic as Joe. He is suave, partially sick in his actions, clear and concise in his instructions to the group as things begin to unfold. Tracy Letts wrote an interesting script. William Friedkin got a lot out of his actors and he made it edgy and oddly funny.
Overall: This is bizarre film, but its absurdity, oddly different script and powerful performances were entertaining.