by director William Friedkin
After a recent screening of Killer Joe in San Francisco, I overheard two women as they were leaving the theatre, talking about Matthew McConaughey's razor-sharp performance as the Dallas detective who's also a killer-for-hire. "Yeah, I'd go out with him," one of the women said, "but he'd probably kill me." The other agreed.
Killer Joe is redneck Grand Guignol. The challenge in directing it was to find the right tone—the balance between humor and violence. You'll be the judge of whether or not I've accomplished that.
There are two ways to portray sex and violence onscreen. One is to suggest them, relying on the audience's imagination, stopping at the closed door. The other is to serve them up raw and unflinching and that's what Tracy Letts called for in his screenplay. This is the story of a violent, dysfunctional family, with no moral underpinnings, trapped by their own dreams, desperate for release and a warped idea of freedom. One day, a stranger knocks at the door who will change their lives, and his own, forever.
The setting is the dark place, deep in the heart of the American nightmare, where the Crooked Timber of Humanity is found.
The film is for adults of all ages. There is nudity and bloodshed, abuse and adultery, incest and matricide, all of which is absurdly funny and deadly serious. It's the work of a Pulitzer Prize winning writer, performed by a perfect cast.
Spoiler alert: there are no vampires, zombies, monsters, aliens or demons. And no sentimentality. It's the most challenging and disturbing film I've ever made.
July 12, 2012