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Equal parts hilarious, vile, and demented, elevated by top-notch performances across the board led by a magnetic McConaughey.
Andrew Gold11 March 2016
Killer Joe is a roller-coaster of a movie. At first it seems like a dark comedy, then a crime drama plot starts to uncover, and by the end it becomes downright terrifying. I'm a sucker for these kinds of movies and Killer Joe absolutely nails everything it goes for. This kind of story couldn't be pulled off without the right director. Thankfully William Friedkin knocks it out of the park. You can smell the white trash emanating from the screen. Every detail of every action is given the right amount of attention; every shot has purpose. Not one second is gone to waste. And in order for a story like this to truly resonate you'd need competent actors, and I don't think you could find a more perfect cast for Killer Joe if you tried. McConaughey is absolutely mesmerizing as this badass detective who's a hit-man on the side. The story revolves around a trailer trash family and their plan to exploit an insurance policy on the husband's ex-wife because the son got wrapped up in a bad drug deal, so they hire Killer Joe to do the job. Little do they know, Killer Joe does not f*ck around.

It's a graphic movie but it's not gratuitous. There's a reason for everything that is shown. And the narrative slowly builds to an explosive climax that leaves you flabbergasted. Seriously, the final scene in this movie which is about 10 minutes long, is absolutely phenomenal. Shocking, riveting, unsettling. Matthew McConaughey is downright villainous in this role. It's hard to call him a "villain" because he's straightforward in his motivations, much like it's hard to call the family the "heroes" because they're a bunch of moronic assholes, except the daughter who just doesn't know any better. The line between good and evil is blurred to the point of nonexistence, with Joe epitomizing this duality being the half detective half gun-for-hire hard-ass that he is. It's quite poetic, really. The characters in this movie are scum, and they all get what's coming to them.

Killer Joe is a lot of things, but one thing it's not is scatterbrained. It's entirely focused and cohesive. All the genres it glosses over fit right into this depraved story arc, and it grips you to the screen from beginning to end. This movie certainly isn't for everyone, but if you can stomach Killer Joe, you won't soon forget it.
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What did I just watch???
Dan John18 September 2011
Just off watching this last night at TIFF 2011, I am still reeling from what I actually witnessed on the screen.

First of all, where has Gina Gershon been?? Her character was so believable in this, I almost forgot she was in Showgirls :)

I could say the same thing about nearly every other character as well. They all have such subtle personalities, it seems as though they are playing themselves.

As for the plot, it is somewhat standard fare, as the trailer could easily giveaway, however it's how it progresses and pans out, is the most interesting aspect of the film.

There are a few scenes which some will find very hard to watch (in fact, during one now-notorious scene, dozens of people left the screening I was at), but if you stick with them, you will be in for a... treat? I'm not so sure, but you will have never seen anything like it, nor will you.

For the cast's performances alone, I highly recommend this film, but if you are feint of heart, or become queasy at the site of blood, maybe skip it.
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in a nut-shell: a wild, soaked-in-gasoline-on-fire film-noir
MisterWhiplash19 November 2011
This is about... hmm... about a father and son who want to kill the mother of the family to collect the insurance money from her death, and hire a killer (also a cop) who decides to take 'as a retainer' the younger sister of the family while they come up with the cash to pay him. It's always refreshing when your first though when this ends is - where did THAT come from?

By far this is Matthew McConaughey's most WTF-bad-ass performance, with touches of Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet and even Anton Chigurh. He's such a fantastic, seductive, snake-like villain here, because after the first couple of times you see him, you're not quite sure where he'll go. Friedkin takes this material into some VERY dark places (I imagine based off of the play, once again like 'Bug' from Tracy Letts), and if you aren't offended after the first ten minutes, you just gotta hang on for the rest of the ride. It's a twisted-f**k film-noir comedy of horrors where morality is so screwed that you have to laugh to not recoil from where it goes ultimately.

The ending had me howling with laughter, recoiling in pain, and just stunned by McConaughey suddenly shattering an image he's built up for himself over the past fifteen years as a rom-com hack. It's his film, along with the unlikely-attractive actress Juno Temple, who has a seduction scene with 'Killer Joe' that is edge-of-your-seat. For those of us sick- bastards looking for something off the wall, it's one of the must-sees of the year. Not as surreal as Blue Velvet, but not as poorly-crafted trash as a Grindhouse movie. It's in an area somewhere in-between, and I can't wait to see it again.
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William Friedkin serves up Trailer Trash Neo-Noir with a side order of Fried Chicken.
Spikeopath28 July 2012
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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Who's Left Standing?
AudioFileZ22 October 2012
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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Fearless and zealous Texas noir filmmaking
Steve Pulaski21 December 2012
William Friedkin's Killer Joe proclaims itself as a "totally twisted, deep-fried Texas, redneck trailer park murder story," but to be fair, I'm not sure that is even an accurate summation. Prior to viewing the film, I saw it called everything from, "sick," to "wild," to "weird," to "creepy," to "subversive," to "crazy," to just plain awful, and the only one I can marginally agree with is "weird." This is one of the strangest releases of the year, but I believe "sick" is a huge exaggeration.

I too feel the NC-17 rating this film proudly bears is a bit much. If the film lacked a full frontal Gina Gershon and Matthew McConaughey, I'm sure it would've easily obtained a strong R-rating. The MPAA's bias for sexual content over violent content is wildly known and just the fact that they oversimplify the violence in this film to "a scene of brutality" had me laughing. The film includes some of the most hard-hitting scenes of combat that I've seen in any other film this year, and I'd absolutely love to know just what scene the MPAA was referring to in the first place.

The film centers around the family of twentysomething Chris Smith (played fantastically by Emile Hirsch, assuming the type of role he should continue to seek out), a lowlife drug dealer residing in a Texas trailer park, with his dim-witted father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), his annoying step-mother Sharla (Gina Gershon), and mentally disabled sister Dottie (Juno Temple). Chris has plunged himself into debt with another local dealer, and consults his father about his biological mother and her $50,000 insurance payoff that would be collected by Dottie if she were to die. Chris proposes the idea to hire "Killer" Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a sleazy cop who also works as an assassin, to kill his mother and receive a cut of the insurance money, with him, Ansel, and Sharla getting a good chunk of the profits. However, things become incredibly twisted when Killer Joe begins to fall in love with Dottie, and how the whole family begins on an even steeper downward spiral due to a colossal misunderstanding thanks to Chris.

Every character in the film is despicable in their own way, either by the shameful atrocities they commit or just because of the fact that their motivation is hopelessly self-centered and shockingly shallow and inept. Thankfully, all these subhuman characters are played efficiently by first-rate performers. Emile Hirsch gives a convincing, dignified performance, in possibly one of the most confident screen roles in his adult life. Juno Temple comes off of Dirty Girl, a wonderful coming of age drama, to embody a wildly different yet extremely interesting character, seemingly taken advantage of due to her intelligence or lack thereof. And Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon are consistently wonderful in their roles, especially during the climatic half when they appear to be tested as actors all together. But the award-winning performance here goes to McConaughey, who is three for three this year, with roles in Bernie (another film looking to brew the idea of "Texas noir") and Magic Mike buoying him to an actor of near first-rate level. McConaughey's early career was plagued by a number of questionable romantic comedies and the occasional goofy action picture or two, but this year, we've seen nothing but him assuming roles of great confidence, always possessing a firmly dignified slickness and swagger that sets him apart from other actors who have just started recognizing their potential. It would appear that McConaughey just woke up one day and realized that time was fleeting and his real acting career could begin. I never thought I'd say this, but I couldn't see the role of Killer Joe being inhabited by anyone more quirky, unsettling, or thrilling as McConaughey.

There's also something seriously notable about the tension director Friedkin (whose most known work would be the iconic game-changer, The Exorcist) erects during the entire course of Killer Joe. I began to notice it around twenty minutes in, when I felt that I never officially held a comfortable position in my seat, rearranging myself every few minutes. Then, during the scene where Chris is desperately trying to outrun two goons on choppers, taking backroads, alleyways, and literally anything that will get him off the track of the two bikers, I became restless and enthralled. Killer Joe provides us with warm Texas sun, and blends it elegantly with the raw thriller aspects found in a typical film noir picture. The entire climax, taking place in the trailer of the Smith family, is tense and unnerving. This is when I began to realize that this story had been a play prior to a film and that screenwriter Tracy Letts had adapted it so quaintly to film that the transformation was almost not noticeable (even if it would've been, it still wouldn't have been a thing to discourage). This is one of the first, if not the first, time I've watched a film that I didn't know was a play until later in the picture. The fact that this film confidently branches out so far past the idea of a stage-play to the point of being unrecognizable from its roots is a huge accomplishment all on its own.

I close with a forewarning that while I feel that the NC-17 rating Killer Joe received is somewhat questionable, I state with caution that this is a very violent picture, with several sequences of brutality that nearly channel the lines of sadistic depravity. Friedkin, however, is sure to capture it through a lens of style, similar to how Rob Zombie beautifully captured the horrifying deeds of the three despicable murderers in The Devil's Rejects. The film's charm is indescribable and its execution, fearless and zealous, making this one of the most surprising and impressive motion pictures of this year.

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey, Thomas Haden Church, Gina Gershon, and Juno Temple. Directed by: William Friedkin.
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Kill her, Joe
Shawn Watson21 June 2012
William Friedkin's career has been up and down most of his career, I guess it's because he refuses to sell-out and go commercial. His most 'Hollywood' film to date has been The Hunted, from 2003, but even that was unusually muted for a film of that type.

His latest effort is yet another adaptation of a Tracy Lett's play (that's a male Tracy), after Bug in 2006, and is choc full of warped, in-your-face sexuality, bloody violence, and humor so dark only the most depraved viewers will find funny. In fact, it's more like a David Cronenberg film than Friedkin.

If you've seen movies like The Acid House, or the 1998 Todd Solondz face-punch Happiness and find them amusing through the gaps in your fingers then you'll be sick enough to fully enjoy Killer Joe.

Matthew McConaughey plays Joe Cooper, an unorthodox Dallas police detective who is 'hired' by petty drug dealer Emile Hirsch to whack his old lady and thus benefit from an insurance policy with his deadbeat dad (Thomas Haden Church in a wonderful performance) and virginal, oddball sister Dottie (Juno Temple). Only they cannot raise the money to pay Joe so he agrees to spend some quality time with Dottie until the policy pays off in waiver of his upfront fee.

It reminded me a lot of an Oliver Stone film called U-Turn, another Texas-based psycho-sexual murder plot filled with heat-waves and perpetual distrust, but was much more enjoyable. The perverse sexuality and dark humor really appeal to a mind like mine, and McConaughey's performance atones for his crimes in various awful romcoms. Joe is a supremely weird but mesmerising character. You never really know what he's going to do next but you can still see the cogs turning as he evaluates every new plot twist. Plus it has full-frontal nudity from Gina Gershon and Juno Temple, which I absolutely do not disagree with.

The film has been slapped with the dreaded NC-17 in the US, which massively limits the amount of theatres that will be showing it. But, indirectly, it will only turn it into a cult film, and thus a bigger success with its intended audience than it otherwise might have been.

I highly recommend that you a part of that audience, it's as far from Hollywood as Friedkin has gotten since Cruising in 1980. Even at the age of 76, he's still on top form.

Edit: I just remembered that U-Turn is actually set in Arizona.
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Jet-black climax manages to cement a rather average film into the memory
tomgillespie200212 November 2012
Texan drug-dealer Chris (Emile Hirsch) lands himself in hot water, owing money to a gang of big-time criminals. After being refused money by his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), Chris comes up with a plot to have his mother murdered, collecting the life insurance money that he believes will pass to his sister Dottie (Juno Temple). To do the deed, they hire police detective and part-time contract killer 'Killer' Joe (Matthew McConaughey). Unable to pay his fees up front, Joe decides to take Dottie as collateral, who he asks to spend the night with, until the debt is paid.

Killer Joe's poster tagline reads 'A totally twisted, deep-fried, Texas redneck trailer park murder story', and really, that's precisely what it is. The central families sheer utter repulsiveness becomes the comedy vein that prevails throughout the plot, as we are greeted by Sharla (Gina Gershon), Ansel's second wife, opening her trailer door to reveal her hairy bush to a disgusted Chris. But Chris's loud-mouthed ineptness, Ansel's zombie-like idiocy, and Sharla's blatant man-eating are neutralised by Juno Temple's strange, quirky presence, and her submissive relationship with Killer Joe that is as unsettling as it is oddly sweet. It's a quite amazing performance, and her scenes with an almost equally impressive McConaughey provide the film's highlights.

If the film has a definite strong point, it is in the performances. While the aforementioned Temple and McConaughey will steal the plaudits, Haden Church's dumb, lurch-like performance reminds us why he was Oscar- nominated for the sublime Sideways (2004), providing a sympathetic character amongst Chris's waster and Sharla's trailer trash whore. It's a shame that the plot can't match the performances, and although the story takes a back-seat to the mish-mash of human monsters, this really could have been a whole lot more. This is Coen Brothers territory, taking place in that sweaty world of the Deep South, full of smoky bars, rusty trailers, cowboy hats, motorbikes and overweight, middle-aged men in vests, a modern-day noir world ripe with possibilities, one that I feel has been slightly wasted here.

But if you've ever wondered if a film's climatic scene would ever involved a woman performing fellatio on a chicken drumstick, then here is your answer. Killer Joe's final frames will undoubtedly divide audiences between those who get director William Friedkin's intentions to take things to Jacobian absurdity, to those who will feel it as a silly contradiction to the film early, more subtle black humour. It's a splurge of extreme, uncomfortable violence with a sprinkling of farce, as the true psychological unbalance of Killer Joe becomes evident. Myself, I found it rather hilarious, and it managed to cement what is really an average film with only spatters of inspiration into my memory.
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Dark, violent and a little funny but one big good time. I really enjoyed this and may be McConaughey's best role yet. I say A-
Tony Heck13 November 2012
"Your gonna pay me for a service that I'm gonna preform. Your gonna give me the particulars of her schedule, her habits. I'll act on them accordingly. I won't give you any details on those activities because the less you know the better for everyone involved." Chris (Hirsch) is in debt bad. He owes the wrong people a ton of money and thinks the only way out is to kill his mother and collect the insurance money. He hires a man named Killer Joe (McConaughey) to take care of the job. When Chris can't come up with the money needed to hire him they work out a deal. Chris soon changes his mind. I am a McConaughey fan...yeah I said it. I'll deal with a shirt off scene in every movie because I like his style and his movies are entertaining. This one is no exception and may be my favorite role of his yet. He is so sadistic and evil in this but also keeps his charm so you don't fully hate him. He is both over the top and laid back. The movie itself is very very violent and bloody but I have to admit that I loved it. There is some humor in this and you laugh when you know you shouldn't but thats the sign of good humor. This is a movie that could have been one dimensional but with the cast and writing it really goes deeper and while not a movie that makes you think the whole time it does keep you guessing what will happen next. If you can handle this movie then I say watch it. I really liked it. Overall, a very entertaining dark movie that I really liked but it not for everyone. I say A-.
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Not exactly a KFC promotion
Tony Bush1 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Modern noir that eschews the razor-sharp approach in favour of a very jagged and serrated edge.

Dumb, redneck, borderline subnormal hick family (father, son, stepmother and daughter) become embroiled in a scheme to knock off dad's ex wife and cash in on the insurance money. To achieve this end they employ cop and part-time hit-man Joe Cooper (Matthew McConaughey). Joe is up for the deal so long as his rules are adhered to. He wants a retainer for his services, but when the numb-skull clan can't cough up he decides he'll take nubile but emotionally disturbed daughter Dottie (aptly named) on account.

It's a jet black treatise on a dysfunctional bunch of idiots who get on the wrong side of a complete and utter psychopathic madman. The performances are electrifying all round, but McConaughey is the standout player as Colonel Sanders' worst nightmare. If you've seen the film you'll know what I mean. The simulated sex act with a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken is a real jaw dropping eye-popper and is unlikely to appear in a KFC promotional ad campaign any time soon.

William Friedkin directs with a sure eye for the mad guy and cursory glances over each shoulder at the Cohen's BLOOD SIMPLE and FARGO. Although I wouldn't likely watch it ever again, it certainly is different and strangely gripping.
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Compensate for the knee jerk
yaktheripper27 October 2012
Sometimes a performance in itself can boost a movies value and vault it into something spectacular, McConaughey provides the turbo to this otherwise solid but not groundbreaking vehicle of karmic retribution as Killer Joe. The movie itself has been said to be akin to Friedkin aping a Cohen crime caper and that description works. We have a crime masterminded by selfish, unintelligent and or quirky characters, we have the mid-west as our backdrop, and we have the metaphysical shadow of karma hovering over their every move throughout the film. Call it Cohen Brothers on whiskey. The characters themselves are all very stereotyped but I think Friedkin left that transparent enough. In other words, the stereotype was part of the wardrobe itself. The reason being is this is not about these characters in particular...this is about choices and consequences and Killer Joe is simply a vehicle of karmic arithmetic. All that aside, on any day, or in any movie, McConaughey's performance as Killer Joe is mesmerizing. He is the serpent...cold and dangerous but charming and in control, constantly. He weaves his restrained psychotic energy through the movie as if he was born to play this role. For as silly as this movie can be, this is a brutally adult movie. It is graphic and there is a barrel of bush in it. There is also an almost misogynistic undertone that I don't wish to defend one way or the other, but I will say that for the scenes to not play out as they did would be an injustice to the character that McConaughey plays. The cast all around is very solid. Thomas Haden Church is pretty terrific, Gershon is on point and I've never been happier to see her answer a door. Juno Temple is a lolita-ish young vixen who seems to be almost in a different plane of existence throughout the movie. This is a movie that will stick with you after it's over, the mark of a truly good movie. There's mechanics below the surface that have to be thought about and you have to discipline yourself for the eventual knee jerking that is bound to happen. Adults only. Would go well sandwiched between Blood Simple and No Country for Old Men.
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Deceived by the Score . Shady Pointless Violent Softporn
Maximilian Kellner16 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I only review this to warn people who expect a well done dark thriller you will have to sit through a tedious one dimensional movie with a very violent debatable end, don't trust the high score on's maybe one of those polarizing movies you either hate or like .

(Spoilers) I checked the scores and was expecting a good movie - nope around ~85 min a deal is being made and isn't working out as it should,whoever believes there will be pulled much dark humor is wrong there are just 2 moments that could referred as dark humor on top of that anybody who seeks lynch style has to look closer Lynch's movies are way more metaphorical,thorough and atmospheric. Oh i forgot most importantly there is some nudity in this flick. Basically the whole movie just desperately tries to build up for the last 15 violent minutes and it's not like you are anticitpating them highly.

This Finale has some sudden gruesome violence very graphical remembered me of "The Killer inside me" it also includes a "mind" rape scene and ends in a fiasco which is borderline stupid cause the tortured low lifes even take the side of the punisher . Yes i'm angry i've seen this.

The movie is very misogynic it likes to be seen as a dark social criticism it went wrong and turned out to be plain boring and stupid yea she's gonna have a baby - this will be our bad future violence, sex sex, a endless lower class who struggle so hard and are being abused by the law... ha ha ha

Anyways i always want to see something good in movies here i can tell you that the acting was well done and the camera wasn't shaking still the story was bland and the movie just too boring , the characters too simple (Ok Matthew was a badass ,but a character whom you don't feel you want to know more about or has more to him than that) and the whole movie too senseless to recommend it also the pacing was terrible.
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If you are a psychopath, you will love this, otherwise watch something else.
headhunter8317 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe it's just me, but if you want to make a violent dark movie, you set the mood accordingly. What this movie tries to do is to lure you in, thinking it's a funny (dark sure) but just a little twisted comedy, but then surprise you into something completely different. It wants to shock you and disgust you and it hopes you will be impressed by the surprising turns, the fact that it's not like any other movie. I am really interested in seeing how this movies rating will end up. Right now it has 7,5/10 with 4,177 votes. My guess is this movie will be around a 6/10 at best unless there are a lot of sick people out there who enjoy being shocked and disgusted and left feeling confused.

It's a movie without a point, other then chaos and randomness. No character does what you think they will do, no character really inspires you. The story made me feel disgusted and it left me with a little less hope in mankind :)

The acting was decent. Matthew McConaughey does his part well. Emile Hirsch's character is so annoying it's hard to appreciate the acting behind it. Juno Temple was very good.

But all in all, why watch this movie? Why would you like it? I guess some people like to be surprised and watch something new. I think it's just stupid because the majority who watches movies are looking for a meaningful story.

I like violent movies. At some point I felt this movie tries to be like a Quentin Tarantino movie, but still it's far from it. These characters are random. The atmosphere is easygoing and at times funny, but compared to a Tarantino flick the dialog is that of stupid, uninteresting people. You could argue that the point is to show how scared and not too bright people could react in a pressed situation. But is that really interesting enough to make into a film? Who would enjoy that? If you want to see senseless violence, watch a horror/action movie and get your bloodlust satisfied. Watch a movie that does not try to be everything all at once but that fails to deliver anything worthwhile. Unless you are a psychopath, then you will love this movie.
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Am I the only one that doesn't get it?
Rachel Lee26 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the WORST movie I've ever seen. I don't get the story. This is a seriously twisted family. Son frequently hits his own mother. Mother tried to smother her own baby girl. Son wants to kill his own mother. Stepmom walks around naked in front of the grown stepson. Father and brother have NO problem whatsoever to pimp out their little girl. Father and sister kill their own son/brother. Wife cheats on husband, which seems so trivial for this family. Husband watches wife being beaten up and offers no help.

What's the point of this movie? What's the merit of watching such an unbelievably twisted family? What is the enjoyment I will get as an audience? Am I supposed to feel better about myself because my family is normal? Am I supposed to feel sympathetic to the characters that I can NOT relate to at all? How am I entertained?

I am very surprised to see such a high rating on this movie. Maybe there is something I am missing. I don't get it at all.
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Dark and violent - Not funny or entertaining
ziggylamont8 July 2012
This is the niche market of a misunderstood disturbing script wanting a reaction. I liked The French Connection, I didn't like the Exorcist, and I hate Killer Joe. This piece of cinema is best left to the DVD market. If I were closer to the aisle and not with a friend I would have walked out. The friend that I went with echoed this as soon as the drivel was finally exhausted. Staying until the end did not even complete the story. Friedkin obviously has too much time and money on his hands; unlike the average movie-goer. Don't watch this "movie". The dialogue did not once get a laugh. The only time the audience reacted was from a deliberate costume failure. Be scared of anyone who likes this movie.
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glorification of the low class. Boring and trite. Pure trash
tom jones2 January 2013
If anyone has any doubt as to who is actually posting the positive reviews, just carefully read the positive reviews and their stark similarities. Particularly the word, "noir" and a few others. I've been fairly sure for some time that movie companies pad the rating on any fan site and this one is certainly no exception. Therefore do not take the rating here on IMDb, OR the positive reviews that could all have been written by the same person they are so similar. This movie has very little humor contrary to others claims. It is not suspenseful in any way. The plot is simplistic and trite. While the acting within the film is certainly up to par it's really all that can be said about this movie. The supposedly shocking scenes don't really shock you probably because 10 minutes into the film you really couldn't care less about virtually everyone in it. Every step of the way you can see the film makers patting themselves on the back with their clever little, "shocking" surprises. They are the only ones impressed which is why they come here to IMDb and give themselves rave reviews. Instead of watching this movie just go down to the local welfare office and watch these people. At least that way it will not cost you any money. Stay away from this film. It's boring and pointless. It's not even shocking for those of you who just like to be shocked.
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What do fried chicken, saliva and the most tasteless film of the year have in common?
Markus Emilio Robinson6 August 2012
If there is one good thing to come out of a vulgar for vulgarities sake film such as "Killer Joe", it is that hopefully this will put an end to the Tracy Letts experiment. In yet another film from the dreadful collaboration of director William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and playwright Tracy Letts (Bug) "Killer Joe" is a star studded, putrid mess of a film, starring Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer) Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild) Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises)Thomas Haden Church (Sideways) and Gina Gershon (Face/Off). I for one didn't think it could get any worse than 2006's "Bug", but what "Bug" was to a boring/nonsensical/acid trip, "Killer Joe" is to shock-centric style filmmaking, with sequences of brutality and misogyny lifted onto a pedestal, coinciding with head-scratchingly elongated scenes of zero substance. What Friedkin and Letts have created with "Killer Joe" is a film that does what it wants, when it wants to, at the expense of its audience. Let me give you an example of what I mean: If Friedkin wants to show a vagina, it doesn't seem to matter what the mood of the film is or what may be gained or lost by bringing the film to a screeching halt to show said vagina; Friedkin is getting his vagina close up. Furthermore, if Letts wants to write a twenty minute interrogation scene that meanders for nineteen of those minutes, it is happening whether you like it or not. It's these woeful filmmaking decisions, among many others (I'm specifically talking about the disturbingly absurd fried chicken scene, which everyone planning to see this film has probably heard about by now) that absolutely ruined any chance for "Killer Joe" as a watchable film. In short: This is a film that doesn't straddle the border of clever and absurd, but pretty much trashes the clever and embraces the absurd, resulting in something that becomes far too strange for comfort.

Side Note: Those who loved "Killer Joe" probably love the work of David Lynch as well; the reason being that "Killer Joe" falls into the same "experimental" column as your common Lynch film. "Killer Joe" is filled (FILLED) with scenes that make little sense or if they do will have audiences wondering what they have just watched. So, just like any Lynch film, no matter how absurd the visuals or the dialogue, many critics will proclaim "Killer Joe" brilliant, making claims that there is something deeper at work here than there actually is. Let me assure you, there is nothing more to this film than the deplorable trash that is on the screen.

The Lett's Problem: As with Lett's last casual adaptation (the aforementioned "Bug") the dialogue in this FILM sounds like the dialogue of a PLAY; wherein all of the conversations are non-thematically drawn-out to the point where much of it seemed either forced and or becomes boring (and I am not saying Plays are boring). The overall pacing of this film is also hindered by the play-like script, with scenes which are prolonged to the point of exhaustion.

With all that said, there is an actual storyline here. The plot follows a young man (played by Hirsch) who is deep in debt with "some very bad people" and decides, with the help of his father (Church), sister (Temple) and his step-mother (Gershon) to hire a hit-man, by the name of Killer Joe Cooper, to kill his mother so he can collect the insurance money. And if that was all this story would have been about, this may have been a half way decent film. Instead audiences are bombarded with mounds of disturbing visuals treated in a flippant manner, editing which is all over the place, nonsensical nudity, numbing violence, acting that is so over-the-top it is uncomfortable to watch and an entire plot that is drowned beneath a dark comedic atmosphere that basically confuses audiences to the point of repulsion (quickly bypassing annoyance).

Matthew McConaughey's Performance: Before watching this film, I had heard an interview with McConaughey stating how the first time he read this script he turned it down simply on the basis that he thought it was an all around ugly piece of work. Well, needless to say (because I've already said it) his first instincts were right on the money. And this is a very interesting point, because aside from Gershon (who is the best thing in this film) McConaughey not only comes through with another stand out performance (following his work in "Magic Mike") but also one of the best performances of his career, no matter how off-putting it may be. It is just a shame that the best part of this career altering performance lies in the final, vomit inducing, thirty minutes. A final thirty minutes that not only voids anything good about this film (the little that there is) but more importantly may unfortunately be the reason McConaughey will be overlooked come awards season.

Final Thought: All you really need to know about "Killer Joe" is that this is yet another Friedkin/Letts collaboration that's sole purpose is to elicit a visceral response, not to tell a coherent story. True, some audiences may laugh, some may be repulsed (as I was), some may say they enjoyed themselves and secretly were repulsed, and some may have acted liked they wanted to puke and secretly enjoyed themselves, but at the end of it all, the storyline is so muddied by Letts and Friedkin's own form of visually explicit big screen self gratification, that nobody in the audience will care about any kind of halfwit plot that Letts is attempting to construct. So, all things considered, and throwing in the most vile scene I have seen in any film since "The Human Centipede 2", I cannot in good consciousness recommend "Killer Joe" to anyone; especially if you are planning on going to KFC anytime soon.

Follow me on Twitter @moviesmarkus
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Simple plot but excellent group of characters.
blythyboy1 July 2012
To start with, I'm a bit of a William Friedkin fan. My all time favourite film is The Exorcist and any other film I see from him gets me slightly worried because I know he has a pretty sketchy body of work.

So I saw the obvious other Friedkin choice and that was The French Connection which I thought was really good. I saw his first play adaptation, Bug, which I thought was pretty special and I started to realise how much he pushes the performances of the actors and this is clearly his priority over any other aspect of film making. Yes it has to be visually appealing but the subject matter of his work is always reliant on performances.

So Killer Joe is another adaptation of a play by Tracy Letts and again has to rely on strong characters with convincing effort to make it come to life. Thankfully Killer Joe delivers on this. In fact, if it wasn't for William Friedkin's ability to add extreme pressure onto the actors by limiting the shooting to two takes per scene, I honestly think it would have lost it's attraction pretty quickly.

The film takes you into the bowels of low-life Texas and really emphasizes the grim reality of life for some unfortunate families. It was surprising to discover a black comedy breeze come over the film and it did come at you pretty surprisingly (especially scenes including Thomas Haden-Church). The cinematography improved on that point by having close up shots of Joe Cooper preparing himself for his first on-screen appearance to the world and blasting mere seconds of TV trash full screen to the audience to make a clear point on red-necks having a low attention span. All of this made me chuckle but it still kept me interested by providing a simple enough plot and letting the great performances carry it along.

Of course there has been a lot of talk regarding the late scenes of the film. Joe's well spoken manner and calm demeanour are pushed to the edge and his rage is unleashed like a shaken coke can that's been opened up. It came as a real shock to me and the suspense was unbearable enough to make your heart pound. Whichever way  it makes you feel at the end, I'm sure you would leave the characters behind knowing it's ended in a really good way and is sure to be discussed well after the credits.

All in all, it's a good piece of work. The effort from the actors far outweigh the visuals which is perfectly fine for a story like this. I'm pretty sure Killer Joe is going to be a reasonable success at the box office and will certainly grab a lot attention when the eventual DVD release comes our way.
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Vile and disgusting, only for the sick and depraved
abitrowdy24 September 2013
Warning: Spoilers
A completely repulsing film. It is NOT a comedy, black or otherwise. It is no more than a gratuitous look at truly depraved people with absolutely no redeeming qualities at all. How bad was it? Even with full female nudity, I am sorry I watched this. To be fair, all the actors performed their roles very well. Technically, the movie is well made. But for what purpose?! NOTHING! There is nothing worthwhile about this film. Why would accomplished actors like Matthew McConaughey and Thomas Haden Church even want to make a film like this? To see it rated so highly is to make me despair for the future of our society. IMDb suggested "Lady Killers" as similar to this. Absolutely NOT! "Lady Killers" is actually a funny, well-done black comedy. "Killer Joe" is worse than a waste of time. It will take something from your soul and self-respect, leaving you worse off for having watched it.
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Some may be offended by it, but I think Killer Joe is the best film of 2012.
Jack Hawkins (Hawkensian)15 February 2013
Killer Joe's premise is simple but invigoratingly delivered. Chris Smith (Emile Hirsh) has got himself in trouble with the underworld, if he doesn't produce some cash, he's a dead man. He reasons with his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church) that everyone would be happier if his mother Adele was killed, as she has a $50,000 life insurance policy. Considering Adele is his wretched ex-wife, he agrees, as does his girlfriend Sharla (Gina Gershon) and teenage daughter Dottie (Juno Temple). Although Chris doesn't have the money up front, Killer Joe, a Dallas police officer who moonlights as a contract killer, accepts the job on the condition that Dottie serves as sexual collateral.

'Killer Joe' is a fantastic thriller with a warped tension that you don't encounter that often. This film confirms that Matthew McConaughey is on a rapid upward trajectory, he gives an intense performance that's utterly steeped in menace. Though 'Killer' Joe Cooper remains largely restrained and ambiguous throughout the film, each syllable of his southern drawl is loaded with a palpable danger. His performance is captivating; it creates a pervasive, looming sense of dread and depravity that suggests something very bad is going to happen at any moment.

The praise doesn't stop with McConaughey, the whole cast delivers to the best of their ability, it really is an actors' film. If I hadn't researched her, I would have assumed on the credibility of her southern accent that the British Juno Temple was a Texas native. She shows good dramatic range as Dottie, the slightly strange, child-like girl at the centre of the film.

William Friedkin has outdone himself with his second collaboration with writer Tracy Letts; he directs the taut, punchy material perfectly. What's most refreshing is that 77-year-old Friedkin was bold enough to release it uncut with the dreaded NC-17 certificate; he wasn't going to allow himself to sell out.

Seeing as the film's source material is a stage play, it isn't a film of many sets; it seldom leaves the confines of the Smith family's trashy trailer. Much like their first collaboration 'Bug', 'Killer Joe' delivers biting tension and a maelstrom of chaos in a cramped, domestic setting.

I can honestly compliment every area of this film. Tyler Bates' score is brilliantly suspenseful, especially when it introduces Killer Joe, it further adds to his aura of danger. The film is also beautifully shot; it's stunning in high definition.

Despite the menace and darkness of it all, the film is laced with deadpan humour, especially in the film's final quarter, the demented absurdity of which leaves you wondering what the hell just happened!
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Hated it.
yourow22 June 2012
Just watched this film at the BFI in London where the director did a Q&A straight after.

I hated this film. People will talk about how it is a piece of art, but for me it was a total piece of something else. This is a director's and actor's film. A vanity project to show how much they can stretch their talents. I'm sure other actors and directors will find it interesting, however, for the movie goer it provides little. There is no reason to watch this film other than perhaps to see how much you can endure.

The movie is based on a play by Tracy Letts and directed by William Friedkin. It's set in Texas and tells the story of life of a trailer park family affected by drugs and gambling debts. A scheme is developed to get money to repay some mobsters to stop them killing the son. Things just spiral out of control in a series of ultra-violent events.

I wanted to leave the cinema because it was just so depressingly sick. I actually felt sorry for the actors. However I stayed to see what the director was going to say after the film. Surprisingly he was a very engaging speaker. When an audience member began asking a question with "I really enjoyed the movie", Friedkin responded "You're not supposed to enjoy it!". Well, I didn't.
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Absolutely NUTS
Camoo16 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I just returned from a week at the Toronto Film festival, and was lucky to see many great films, many gorgeous artistic testaments, slow paced dramas, thought provoking documentaries, and even a comedy. On my last day, however, I saw Killer Joe.

Um. It is very very very very difficult to write about this film. What I can say first of all and with confidence is that it absolutely blew away anything else I saw at that festival, and pretty much anything I have seen by Friedkin or anybody from his generation for a long time (Bug was a good primer for this.. Though a little under the radar, I found it really impressive.. So for those of you who have seen it, it's worth mentioning that he is collaborating with the same writer here, Tracy Letts).

A few days before I had seen the new Coppola film called 'Twixt', and while I was impressed visually with his film, I couldn't shake the feeling that he had somehow lost 'it', that elusive ability to make a gripping and tight narrative picture that so captivates your attention that you forget you are watching a film and just sit back and take it.

Killer Joe resets the bar for me - I had almost forgotten about the sheer power of film - to not only captivate you and enthrall you into its trance, but also its ability to shock you into a catatonic submission. You see actors that are familiar - Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Matthew McConoughey, Thomas Haden Church... But no, there is nobody to recognize here. They are all so hidden underneath their personas, and so real and bloodied by their characters that not a moment passes that you question who they are. They simply are these characters, and after watching it you cannot imagine anybody else cast in any of these roles. And I will add that I never in a million years thought that I would consider Matthew McConoughey perfect for ANY role - though weirdly, he might have found the role of his life in Joe. The man is absolutely genius in this film. Dark, sadistic, calm, precise.. Perfect.

I am reticent to write more details - I only urge you to see it. That said - it is not for everybody, as evidenced by the massive walk-out in the theater during the last twenty or so minutes of the screening. You will need the stomach for a film of this nature. I hate to compare, but you might consider it an x-rated Coen brothers film hopped up on steroids. Overall, it's mercifully hilarious , brilliantly written with a sly wit about it- which blunts out a lot of the violence, to where the final haunting scenes provoked twisted and maniacal laughs from audience members rather than shocked silence (which would have been the only other reasonable response to a story such as this.)

So. There you have it, my rather cryptic review of a film that took me out of my seat and blew me the hell away. Peace out Friedkin, I'm a major fan again.
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Did that just happen???
Welcome back, William Friedkin of The Exorcist, French Connection and To Live and Die in LA... where the hell have you been? It's no secret I suppose that Friedkin, as great as he always was, is one of the laziest directors of all time. Not that he makes bad films. Clearly I'm not saying that at all. I really appreciated his older brutal, gritty crime dramas and such. But he never made anywhere near as many films as he should have and that man could have belted out as many classics as Kubrick, had he cared! Killer Joe marks his return to the director's chair and it's one of the few returns I've anticipated the most in recent times along with the return of Walter Hill.

Killer Joe was a hell of a gamble for Friedkin for a number of reasons, besides the fact that it was a film he knew the mainstream would absolutely not be interested in.

For a start, the movie is white trash Texas AND based on a theatre play. That spells art-house, something Friedkin fans might never associate him with. But even stranger, it spells very offensive art-house that isn't looking to make friends with Texas.

Secondly, the majority of the cast are either taken with a pinch of salt or settled into character roles that their fans would't feel comfortable seeing them in. Let's get that particular ball rolling, shall we? Emile Hirsch (who I don't like), plays Chris Smith, an annoying, horrid trailer trash drug abusing dead end kid who wants to have his own mother murdered so he can inherit her will. He's in trouble and owes money. Not having the money could mean paralysis or death in the near future.

Getting his dad and stepmother involved in a plot to have a hit-man murder his mother (also the mother of Dottie, Chris's brain-damaged younger sister who has been wrong ever since their mother tried to smother her, and played to alarming accuracy by Juno Temple).

In comes cold and somewhat calmly deranged 'Killer' Joe Cooper, a cop that murders people on the side as a second job. He will take the job and wait for Mrs Smith's will to be cashed so long as he can have Dottie as a retainer, meaning that he will do with her whatever he damn well pleases.

As events unfold, everything goes to plan, but Chris becomes increasingly irrational and untrustworthy, as does his stepmother (the awesome Gina Gershon). Sensing everything falling down around him, Killer Joe remains in cop mode and finds himself at the centre of a bigger conspiracy.

It's not so much the plot that's different here, it's McConnaughey as Killer Joe. I've not found him in many enjoyable roles since Dazed and Confused or Reign of Fire, but here, he delivers one of the most extremely charismatic yet psychopathic roles I have ever witnessed and this film is disturbing to its very core.

The odd thing is that as disturbing as it is, you're either going to switch off out of disgust for what happens or the things your eyes will catch - as Friedkin is not one to hold back or be told he's out of order - and if you keep watching, you may very well laugh and find yourself extremely satisfied with the outcome.

Killer Joe is about despicable people and not one of the characters are likable, but saying that, you do often pity Chris's honest but simple and burdened father Ansel (Thomas Hayden Church in possibly his best to date) and Dottie, who can't help but be Dottie, whatever the situation.

This could very well have been a Gary Oldman film, were it British, which is also why I appreciate it so much. It has no shortage of guts and is so willing to offend the narrow minded that it pleases me to no end.

I dare to suggest boyfriend and girlfriend watch this on a cosy night in. If not, it's one for the boys to watch with a beer!
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Not a real killer
tomsview5 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
After reading the blurb on the back of the DVD, "Killer Joe" sounded interesting. Could this be a fresh take on a journey through admittedly familiar territory with some neat new twists? Sadly, the answer is no. My overall reaction is disappointment – not 118 minutes completely wasted but I'm left with the feeling that it should have delivered more.

I can't accept that William Friedkin has outdone David Lynch in creating a movie that challenges the audience with its dark humour, offbeat insights and shock value. This film is strangely predictable despite the unresolved ending. "Killer Joe" ramps up the sex, violence and quirkiness, but the story is the critical factor.

Set in Dallas, Chris Smith, a deeply in debt drug dealer played by Emile Hirsch, lives with his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), his step-mother Sharla (Gina Gershon) and his sister Dottie played by Juno Temple. Other than Dottie, the Smith's are an obnoxious bunch. Chris convinces the others to have his mother, Ansel's ex-wife, murdered by a hired killer in order to collect the insurance money.

The killer they hire is Joe Cooper played by Matthew McConaughey. He agrees to do it for a fee, but as a retainer, Joe demands an affair with Dottie. Joe is psychotic and violent. He eventually honours his part of the deal but Chris and Ansel don't get the insurance money, and can't pay Joe his fee. Joe eventually tears the family apart not only through his relationship with Dottie but also by exposing Sharla's deceit. All the protagonists come together in a violent finale but with nowhere else to go, the film opts for an odd, but hardly satisfying ending.

"Killer Joe" is not a celebration of life – dark Gothic humour maybe, but I think it falls flat under all the violence. Without the violence we are left with a slight story that smacks of things we've seen before. Not only that, but the two scenes of prolonged brutality, one where Sharla is humiliated with a piece of KFC, and the other when Joe pounds Chris's face with a can of pumpkin, seem to be inspired by "Irreversible", the French film that also plumbed the lower depths. As I watched those scenes in "Killer Joe", I couldn't help thinking that someone had taken notes in that earlier, far bleaker movie.

The film just isn't as clever as it thinks it is. The actors are fine; Matthew McConaughey disturbs and menaces, it's the concept that's flawed. Violence at this level will always get attention – as do road rage videos on YouTube – but I think this story is as shallow as the characters it creates. We deserve more of a reward for staying the course – Joe doesn't get a payoff but either do we.
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Absolutely WORST movie I've ever seen
mskozazc23 December 2012
I'm a fan of artsy smart movies that come off as "odd" at times but in the end provide a mind-twisting and entertaining experience... This movie does NOT fit that description. The ending is one of the DUMBEST things I've yet to see, parts of the movie were disgusting and hard to watch, the plot was terrible and 100% predictable (until the end, which remains pointless), and on top of it all the simple fight scenes (which is some of the most basic stuff) was less realistic than WWE wrestling as you could tell contact wasn't being made and yet abnormal amounts of blood would splurge everywhere.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT purchase this movie or even rent it. They shouldn't receive a dime of profit from this garbage. It was SO terrible that I actually created an account just to write this review and hopefully save people some time and sanity. Go watch Looper, Lawless, or even Premium Rush if you're looking for a new release.
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