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Killer Joe (2011)

 -  Crime | Thriller  -  29 June 2012 (UK)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 45,267 users   Metascore: 62/100
Reviews: 194 user | 358 critic | 38 from

When a debt puts a young man's life in danger, he turns to putting a hit out on his evil mother in order to collect the insurance.



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Finding himself in considerable debt, Chris a Texan drug dealer, decides the only solution is to murder his mother to collect the insurance money. Getting together with his father, the ex-husband of Chris' mother, they decide to hire Joe Cooper a contract killer, who also happens to be a police detective. The plan is that the money will go to Chris' sister Dottie. However due to the size of the contract fee, Chris agrees that Joe can take Dottie as a retainer until the insurance comes through. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story. See more »


Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing violence, sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:




Release Date:

29 June 2012 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Killer Joe: A Twisted Redneck Trailer Park Murder Story  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$37,864 (USA) (27 July 2012)


$220,282 (USA) (3 August 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(original) | (cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In one scene Dottie asks if Joe is a detective like Magnum PI. Matthew McConaughey was in the running for playing Magnum PI in a big budget movie remake of the series in 2007, as of 2012 the project is dead in the water. See more »


When Chris returns home after Digger's thugs beat him up, his teeth are perfectly white, yet in the close-up shot, they are all bloody and messed up. See more »


Killer Joe Cooper: That poor, miserable bastard set his own genitals on fire just to teach his girlfriend a lesson. I guess he showed her. I wonder if she ever got over it.
Dottie Smith: Was he all right?
Killer Joe Cooper: No. No, he was not all right. He set his genitals on fire.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The unrated DVD retains the MPAA's NC-17 graphic at the end, although the rating was surrendered. See more »


References Face/Off (1997) See more »


Bad Reputation
Written by James C. Heath and Jimbo Wallace
Performed by Reverend Horton Heat
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

White Trash at it's Finest/Worst
5 March 2013 | by (Spring Hill, FL) – See all my reviews

I don't think I will ever view Matthew McConaughey in the same light again. I've never been a huge fan of his work, even if there are a few roles of his I enjoyed. I've just always seen him as a Hollywood pretty-boy, and his recent onslaught of romantic comedies over the past few years haven't done anything to fix that. And now, along comes KILLER JOE. McConaughey has done dramatic work before but I don't know that I have ever seen him go so dark. Maybe in FRAILTY, but I'm pretty sure this pushes him into darker territory than that movie ever did. KILLER JOE is billed as a "dark comedy", but I didn't quite see the comedy aspect when I first watched it. I guess it's because I was so baffled by what I'd just watched that it didn't have a chance to settle in. This movie is like a swift kick to the gut. The movie is pretty twisted and you expect some crazy happenings, but the final act just hits you hard and leaves you slack- jawed. KILLER JOE is a tale set in the deepest, worst parts of the South in a rundown trailer park where Chris Smith (Emile Hirsch) plots to murder his mother when she steals his drugs and leaves him indebted to a murderous local gangster. He convinces his dim-witted father Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church) to join him in hiring Killer Joe Cooper (McConaughey), a police officer with a nice little side business in contract killing. The plan is to murder Chris's mother and collect on her insurance settlement to pay off his debt, but Killer Joe doesn't come cheap and he demands payment up front for his services. In lieu of his $25,000 payment, Joe offers to accept a retainer in the form of Chris's apparently mentally deficient sister Dottie (Juno Temple). Arrangements are made, the plan is put in motion, and soon everything begins to crumble.

I've seen that KILLER JOE is based on a stage play from Tracy Letts, and it shows. There aren't a lot of locations. Everything is shot very tight, and it's all about the characters. And that right there is the movie's greatest strength: the characters. KILLER JOE has some insane moments and brutal violence, but the majority of the movie is moments between a bizarre collection of people. Everyone in the movie is giving 110% in their performances and their characters are just so inherently evil and trashy that you can't look away. There isn't a single good person in the entire movie, with the exception of maybe Dottie. But Dottie seems so confused as she wanders through life, you never quite know if she's fully aware of what's going on. She knows her brother and father are planning to kill her mother and she casually accepts it with blissful whimsy, but she's so flighty and her head's firmly planted in the clouds that she either doesn't care what's going on around her or she's not entirely coherent of it.

The rest of the cast: just plain evil. This is white trash at it's worst (finest?). Hirsch is a loud-mouth with a obvious habit of getting himself into bad situations. It just happens that his latest problem will probably be his last, if he can't pay off local mob boss Digger Soames. Chris is a quick talker and easily convinces his slow-witted father to fall into his scheme with talk of hired gun Joe Cooper. Church, as the father Ansel, is someone you can sympathize with until the end. He's just too stupid for the situation he's caught up in. He's not a man capable of thinking for himself and you start to feel bad for the guy. Start to, but never quite. He's just as selfish as the rest of them. Particularly Sharla, his latest wife, played by Gina Gershon. Sharla is pure, unadulterated trash. You know there's nothing good about her from the moment you first meet her in the opening scene. Just how horrible she is will gradually become more apparent as the plot goes deeper.

And then there's the film's centerpiece: Killer Joe Cooper. I'm sure they can be little argument that this is McConaughey's best role. He plays completely against type and he does it perfectly. Joe is cold, calculating, and competent in his game. He knows what he wants and he takes it without fear. He's more than just evil, he's broken. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Joe comes from a family just as twisted as the Smiths, which might explain his particular disgust with them. All of them except for Dottie. He finds something intriguing in her. He sees this girl has been through some sort of trauma that left her shattered, and I can't tell if he empathizes with her or if he's just turned on by it. Regardless, it's creepy.

Creeped out is a pretty good way of describing how this movie might leave most people. The movie was rated NC-17 for some of the more insane moments (especially the end) and there are warnings everywhere that this is not a movie for everyone. It's got some dark laughs and cringe-worthy moments, and people with light hearts or weak stomachs might just want to steer clear. Personally, I find the movie more and more interesting every time I watch it and easily recommend it to anyone with an open mind.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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