Killer Joe (2011) Review


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Plot: 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.

After seeing this film a second time recently, “Killer Joe” will certainly rank up there with my favorite movies of all time. It is incredibly cold and dark, and must be seen to be believed.


Matthew McConaughey had yet another amazing role in a line of great roles as “Killer” Joe Cooper, a crooked detective who happens to be a contract killer, giving an over-the-top and brilliant performance. He easily could’ve been nominated for Best Actor at the Oscars, and quite possibly could’ve walked away with the award too. Emile Hirsch gave yet another fine performance as doomed drug dealer Chris, as did Thomas Haden Church and Gina Gershon playing husband and wife Ansel and Sharla Smith, and Juno Temple also gave a pretty good performance as young daughter Dottie Smith. All the performances were always right on target and each actor fully and flawlessly brought their characters to life.


The screenplay was written brilliantly by Tracy Letts, who also wrote the play the movie was based on. Judging by the fact he wrote both the play and the script I’d say he wrote a perfect adaptation, even though I have not yet read the play. The sequences of violence, including the shocking chicken sequence near the end, were offset wonderfully with jet-black dark comedy. The plot, however extremely lurid, was always sprinkled colorfully with said darkly comedic elements.


“Killer Joe” is more proof that William Friedkin hasn’t lost his touch for great direction. Although he hasn’t directed much in the last ten years or so, the most recent film I’ve seen of his besides this would be “The Hunted”, another terrific movie, he still retained his beautifully sharp direction style and his eye for great cinematography, directing this lurid film with such relaxed grace as if shooting a live-action stage play. Not to mention the nice bluesy score in the background, done wonderfully by artist Tyler Bates, really set the mood for this movie.


In conclusion, “Killer Joe” is about as dark and as lurid as a film could get, but it is also very well made and quite funny. The strong writing and brilliant performances easily recommend this movie, but I should warn viewers that it is not for everyone’s taste. Be forewarned that this movie is violent and very gritty before watching, particularly the already-mentioned chicken sequence. However if you can handle the film’s subject matter and violence then I very very highly recommend watching it.

Rating: 9/10

Thanks for reading!



2 thoughts on “Killer Joe (2011) Review

  1. CMrok93 says:

    Good review. McConaughey has never been slimier, Hirsch has never been louder, Haden Church has never been dumber, Temple has never been more innocent, and Gershon has never really shown us ALL of her like we see here. Altogether, they make a pretty out-standing ensemble that makes this film tick a whole lot more than I expected.

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