Killer Joe ★★★½

Prior to the films that plummeted McConaughey into his renaissance, the smooth-talking Texan starred in Friedkin’s absolutely insane Killer Joe as the titular character. In an almost Coenesque setup, part of a family of incessantly intoxicated rednecks arranges the murder of their negligent mother to collect her life insurance debt by hiring a hitman. Enter McConaughey, donning leather gloves and a cowboy hat. Right from the get-go, Joe exudes a terrifying sexual intensity, and the reflection you find in his dark sunglasses is one of your enthralled, paralyzed visage.

The plot, atmosphere, and characters team up for a Texan neo-noir adventure certain to produce several shocking surprises. This genre, then, is accentuated by a southern societal discomfort as seen in the superior Cape Fear, but it is, nonetheless, deeply engaging and truly amusing with its occasional dark comedy and ludicrous, up-shit-creek situations. McConaughey is no DeNiro, and his Killer Joe, although very different, is not as captivatingly creepy as Max Cady, but it is grotesquely entertaining.

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