6.7/10
66,243
226 user 377 critic

Killer Joe (2011)

Trailer
2:27 | Trailer

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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.

Director:

William Friedkin

Writers:

Tracy Letts (screenplay), Tracy Letts (play)
Reviews
Popularity
3,283 ( 775)
9 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Matthew McConaughey ... Killer Joe Cooper
Emile Hirsch ... Chris Smith
Juno Temple ... Dottie Smith
Thomas Haden Church ... Ansel Smith
Gina Gershon ... Sharla Smith
Marc Macaulay ... Digger Soames
Gralen Bryant Banks ... Pizza Patron (as Graylen Banks)
Carol Sutton ... Saleslady
Danny Epper ... G-Man
Jeff Galpin ... Biker Thug
Scott A. Martin ... Pizza Manager (as Scott Martin)
Gregory C. Bachaud Gregory C. Bachaud ... Filpatrick
Charley Vance ... Preacher
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Storyline

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.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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

Genres:

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 June 2012 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Killer Joe: A Twisted Redneck Trailer Park Murder Story See more »

Filming Locations:

Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$11,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$37,864, 29 July 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,987,762

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,665,069
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(original) | (cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director William Friedkin was shocked when he found out that the film was given the NC-17 rating and refused to alter the film for fear that any cut or edit would take away from the filthiness of the film. It was released theatrically with the NC-17 rating later surrendering the rating for video release as "The Unrated Director's Cut". An edited R rated version on DVD and Blu-Ray in order for certain retailers to carry the film. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Killer Joe Cooper: [at the dinner table] This is lovely. Now, who would like to say grace?
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Crazy Credits

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

Connections

Featured in WatchMojo: Top 10 Movie Oral Sex Scenes (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Led Pud
Written by Steve Boeddeker
Performed by Dogs of Distortion
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
William Friedkin serves up Trailer Trash Neo-Noir with a side order of Fried Chicken.
28 July 2012 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

Killer Joe is directed by William Friedkin and adapted to screenplay by Tracy Letts from his own play of the same name. It stars Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon. Music is scored by Tyler Bates and cinematography by Caleb Deschanel. Plot finds Hirsch as Chris Smith, who because he is in severe debt to local thugs, hatches a plan to bump off his waster of a mother and claim the life insurance. Roping in the rest of his trailer dwelling family, he hires Killer Joe (McConaughey), a cop with a sideline in murder, but the Smith's have no idea just what price they will have to pay for his services.

So pulpy, so amusingly dark, Killer Joe is one of those films that will sit at the top of many film fan's best of lists for 2012. Yet if someone came up to me and declared it one of the worst then I certainly will understand. Undeniably it has no widespread appeal, you either get it or you don't, you will either laugh along with Friedkin and his dark observations or you will feel the whole thing is just too ugly to be entertainment. Man it's good to have Friedkin back pushing peoples buttons!

Filmed in Texas in under three weeks, Killer Joe is a film that walks the fine line of misogyny and perversity for perversity's sake. But it never falls over that mark, even though these are scummy characters living in a scummy world, where there's sex and violence, and violent simulated sex and nudity; all of which is cloaked by a sweaty crime gone wrong caper. Much of the film is dialogue driven, rest assured this is very talky, but the director wrings out much tension and salaciousness from every character interaction, the slow-burn approach only heightening the sense of dread. When the finale comes, and it's a cracker-jack ending, there's an almost merciful release that it's all over. These are people you wouldn't want to hang out with ever, only there's Friedkin chuckling away to himself having made us spend an hour and forty minutes with this grime laden crew. If you feel like you need a bath afterwards, that's perfectly natural.

Friedkin has garnered terrific performances from a top line cast. Hirsch (powder-keg), Church (naievity extraordinaire), Temple (virginal piggy in the middle) and Gershon (bold and suspicious), are all giving disturbing credibility to the material, but as good as they are they are trumped considerably by McConaughey. One of the most frustrating actors working today, much like Cage, a ream of poor movies adorn his CV, but once in a while he throws in a performance of such genuine quality that it begs to be acknowledged by his peers. Here as Killer Joe he lays on a Faust like menace, delivering his lines with clinically calm precision, yet still there's a glint in his eye, we know a black heart beats there but he can charm a snake out of its basket, a girl out of her underwear...

Unflinching direction, bravura performances and neo-noir at its near best, one of the best films of 2012 so far. Well, to some of us at least.... 9/10


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