Dallas-area loser Chris (Emile Hirsch) finds himself deep in debt to a local crime lord, and unable to come up with the case he owes. Along with his deadbeat father (Thomas Haden Church) and his adulterous stepmother (Gina Gershon), Chris devises a plan to have his mother killed in order to cash in on her substantial life insurance policy.
Enter Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a Dallas police detective that moonlights as a contract killer. Joe’s services don’t come cheap – he wants $25,000 up front, and with Chris unable to produce the money until the insurance policy is paid out, the deal is off. Unless, of course, Joe can secure a retainer, in the form of Chris’s naive teenage sister (Juno Temple).
Killer Joe is the latest offering from prolific director William Friedkin, best known for his work on The Exorcist and The French Connection. Here, Friedkin has crafted a darkly comic and undeniably disturbing experience, anchored by a career-high performance from McConaughey. Throughout the film, the audience knows that something terrible lurks beneath Joe’s polite mannerisms and soft-spoken exterior, and when it finally boils to the surface during the film’s gut-wrenching climax, the results are nauseating in their brutality, and shocking in their depravity.