25 October, 2013

Shotgun Blast of White Trash

Killer Joe is not so much a crime film as it is a kaleidoscope of scum. And not your average scum, either. The kinds of scum that walk the earth of Killer Joe need to be scrubbed from the earth with chemical fire. If there was ever a film that would make you want to take a shower, this is the one.

A more snide director would look down on the target family of the film and a more exploitative one would look up to them, but Freidkin is far more intruiged by looking at them dead in the eyes. It isn't that he avoids judging them, it's that there'd be no point to it. It'd be like explainingthe meter of a sonnet to a pig eating a boot. Morality and judgement would be wasted on this family, and for that they are sort of likable. Sort of. In the same way dive bar vomit might have a kind of charm. We like them enough to see what horrid shit-pile they'll roll into next.

I was talking to a friend of mind and she said that after a certain point, she just stopped watching Kiler Joe. This strikes me as a sane response to this movie. For the rest of us, the ones who want to see humanity at its Biblical worst, this movie is the movie for you. Just, you know, make sure you have a luffa handy.

A scene that does not stick out in Killer Joe.
All of this is tied to together by Matthew McConaughey's titular character, a merciless man who seemed to have missed his calling as either a cult leader or a super-soldier made out of the husbands of 1970's porn actors. He's clean and competent and for that, he acts as a welcome respite from a universe that really needs a bath. Or a wetnap, at least.

Not to get off topic here, but it kind of reminds of The Great Gatsby. Yes, that The Great Gatsby. Now stick with me here.

To me Tom was always the least terrible of any of the character (which in the context of The Great Gatsby means that he least resembled a weapon's grade goat asshole). Sure he drank, cheated, had strong feelings about the dominance of the white race, and hit his wife, but at least we knew where he stood. There was something honest about him. Myrtle is run over he's the only one who seems to feel bad about it outside of how this dead body was going to eat into this mid-morning squash session. He's capable of love, while everyone else, from Nick to Daisy to Gatsby himself are self-obsessed, vapid bores who think that not having a soul can be made up for by having a really great head of hair.

This is what makes Killer Joe a kind of hero of the film. He's the most insidious and violent, yet he's the only one with any measure of honesty or competence. Everyone else is exactly who they appear to be (with one, notable exception). You sort of root for him, as much as you can root for a murderous, border-line sex criminal. That, if anything, indicates just what a morally bankrupt film that Friedkin and Letts have constructed.

As disgusting as this movie is, in the end, it manically and brutally wraps everything up with such suddenness that you feel as though someone was fucking with you the entire time, and instead of it being a moment of annoyance, there's this sense of pleasure that you've been fucked with by somebody who is really, really good at it. Killer Joe feels like what would happen if the Jackass guys were really into committing crime. I don't know that there are many other experiences like that in film.

As it turns out that's a good thing.