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Killer Joe (2011)

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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.



(screenplay), (play)
2,402 ( 2)
9 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Gralen Bryant Banks ...
Pizza Patron (as Graylen Banks)
Pizza Manager (as Scott Martin)
Gregory C. Bachaud ...


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


Available for hire. Terms and conditions will apply. See more »


Crime | Drama | 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)


$1,987,762 (USA) (12 October 2012)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(original) | (cut)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Gina Gershon had been originally offered the role of Sharla almost 20 years previously when the script was for a play, but she turned it down because she could not imagine performing the infamous chicken-leg scene "eight times a week" on stage. See more »


When Joe opens the trunk of the car Adelle's eyes are open, but when he moves her body to the driver's seat the eyes are closed. See more »


Chris Smith: Put some pants on. I need to talk to you about something.
Ansel Smith: I need pants for that?
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 »


Place Out On The Ocean
Written and performed by Jamey Johnson
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Who's Left Standing?
22 October 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Famed director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) returns to fine form. Killer Joe, directed by Friedlkin and based on a Tracy Letts story/screenplay, is a fine rendition of the old player getting played murder plot. A vignette of white trash playing out some worst case scenarios with, thankfully, much more photogenic role-players.

The film hangs on the roles of three central characters. The protagonist is a twenty-ish down and out loser named Chris played by Emile Hirsch. Hirsch brings a much grittier less Bohemian Johnny Depp to the table and it works here. His character is smart enough to know he's in deep and empty enough to unwittingly dig his hole ever deeper. His younger sister, Dottie, played by Juno Temple is an extremely unique character. She's both high functioning and almost mentally deficient in her total naiveté' which we are led to think is a mental quirk. She exudes a kind a helplessness with natural beauty that can draw one in. Juno Temple, a relatively new face to American audiences, is quite effective in her portrayal of this integral character. Finally, Matthew McConaughey is perfect in what is actually a supporting role in spite of being the the title character, Killer Joe. McConaughey is in his best element where he is reined in from Hollywood bombast instead dripping with a sleazy lawman/killer persona. These three characters are this movie aptly supported by Gershon's conniving Sharla and Thomas Hayden Church's witless Ansel.

Killer Joe has a down and dirty indie feel which is totally right. The cinematography is immediate and not artsy in any way as if you are clearly seeing something you wish wasn't happening. The final quarter ramps up with a tour 'de force of the macabre supplied by McConaughey's character and taken home with a kind of surprise loose-end "wham-bam" finale. All in all, this really works and separates itself from more typical murder stories, recommended.

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