Courtesy PhotoDeadly creative team: From left

Friedkin’s killer instinct

Seventy-six-old filmmaker William Friedkin’s ferocious new movie “Killer Joe” looks like it was made by a 26-year-old.

Yet Friedkin — who won a best directing Oscar for “The French Connection” and directed one of the biggest hits of all time, “The Exorcist” — claims he didn’t do anything other than pick the right script, cast the right actors and show up.

“Killer Joe” is based on a play by Tracy Letts, who also wrote the play “Bug,” and the screenplay for Friedkin’s underrated film of the same name. Recently in The City to promote “Killer Joe,” Friedkin calls Letts a “genius.”

“Letts created this world,” Friedkin says. “Once I read the script, I knew it was something that I really wanted to do, but it could never have originated from me.”

“Killer Joe” is about a family of trailer-dwelling outcasts who, in order to collect a life insurance policy, hire a cop (Matthew McConaughey) who doubles as a hitman. The hitman is enchanted by the family’s youngest girl, the dreamy Dottie (Juno Temple).

“‘Killer Joe’ examines the human condition on that level,” he continues. “They play out their roles in situations over which they have no real control.”

Friedkin did add his own touches to the movie.

“I wrote to Tracy and I said, ‘I think I’ve got to expand the film in a visual way and put in a chase.’ And he emailed me back and said, ‘chase away.’”

Though Friedkin is known for breathtaking car chase scenes in “The French Connection,” “To Live and Die in L.A.” and “Jade,” the new chase features characters on foot in a ruined, abandoned, graffiti-covered world.
“That world is blasted out,” Friedkin says. “It’s waiting to die.”

As he went along, he also took advantage of interesting sound cues, such as a monster truck rally playing at top volume on a television set in the background, a barking dog, a thunderstorm or the click of Killer Joe’s lighter.

“I discover these things once I get into them,” he says. “One day Matthew started to play with the lighter. It’s a vaguely threatening sound, but it’s in fact harmless, except that the instrument itself is capable of destruction.”

Friedkin smiles. “And that’s Joe.”

Killer Joe
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon
Written by Tracy Letts
Directed by William Friedkin
Rated: NC-17
Running time 1 hour 43 minutes

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City could try to stop Lyft from dropping cash payments for bikeshare

A city supervisor hopes to force Lyft to keep accepting cash for… Continue reading

SF judge holds GOP House candidate Omar Navarro on stalking charges

Navarro is accused of his threatening ex-girlfriend: ‘I’m going to have antifa come after your family’

San Francisco community advocate to join District 5 supervisor’s race

Daniel Landry is the former president of the New Community Leadership Foundation

Vital link between two Muni train cars ‘failed’ while carrying passengers

A Muni train carrying passengers suffered a mechanical failure causing two rail cars to reportedly loosen and bump into each other

Most Read