Killer Joe

Film, Thrillers
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Killer Joe
Matthew McConaughey in Killer Joe

Missing presumed dead in the wake of a string of duds, ‘The Exorcist’ director William Friedkin’s edge made a vicious comeback in 2006 with ‘Bug’: a feverish, claustrophobic psychodrama adapted by Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy Letts from his own play. Clearly a step in the right direction, Friedkin concluded; he’s stuck with the Oklahoman playwright for his follow-up.

A bristly adaptation of Letts’s first play, this riotously nasty trailer-park noir makes no apologies for its debt to Tennessee Williams, though even Williams might have baulked at some of the warped goings-on in this Southern family. Hounded by money-chasing gangsters, young hoodlum Chris (Emile Hirsch) hits upon a solution: having his mother killed and raking in the insurance payout. A bent cop moonlighting as an assassin, Joe (Matthew McConaughey) is happy to oblige. But when Chris can’t pay the deposit, Joe claims his sister Dottie (Juno Temple) as a sexual ‘retainer’. Fun for all the family ensues, with virginal Dottie taking to Joe with disquieting ease, assorted characters getting beaten to the consistency of mince, and Gina Gershon (excellent as Hirsch’s scuzzy stepmother) doing things with a drumstick that may put you off KFC for life.

Friedkin’s direction is rough and ready, but Letts’s tangy writing is the star here. Or perhaps that distinction should go to Temple: as a guileless baby-doll turned ravenous Lolita, the 23-year-old Brit is the standout among an already sparky ensemble. Guy Lodge

By: Guy Lodge


Release details

Rated: 18
Release date: Friday June 29 2012
Duration: 102 mins

Cast and crew

Director: William Friedkin
Cast: Juno Temple
Gina Gershon
Matthew McConaughey
Emile Hirsch

Average User Rating

3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
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I left a comment here a few days ago, but it disappeared... hmm. Anyway, here's what I thought of this film: it was very disturbing and misogynistic, but with a lot of great performances, esp Juno Temple. I couldn't watch the drumstick scene - had my eyes closed for that one.

Squalid, cliched to the point of absurdity, with some ludicrous dialogue. Tennessee Wiilliams meets Quentin Tarantino in a trailer park. Not half as clever as it imagines it is. One chicken drumstick. Rampart knocks it sideways.

Tired Hollywood cliches about guns, violence, misogyny and cowboys just lacking a car chase unless you regard a retread for 'The Killer Inside Me' as fair exchange. This is no Glass Menagerie, but there are some good Dirty Harry/Midnight Cowboy limps reprised as highlights. One chicken was harmed in the making of this film as well as your wallet, but agree with Archgate the final song is a belter and worth staying for.

Delicious B movie with outstanding performances from Matthew M and Juno (a star of the future). Tight script and effortless direction, the action zips along to a sizzling close. As one commentator said - you'll never look on Kentucky Fried Chicken the same way again, EVER!

Awesome film. Great performances. Scenes to make you squirm. One of the best films so far this year.

Awesome film. Great performances. Scenes to make you squirm. One of the best films so far this year.

gets a bit bitter and twisred in the final third.. but watchable but Juno needs better roles than this.. shes a real talent.. off to KFC now"there fellating tasting good"

Amusing with excellent performances, particularly (and surprisingly) from McConaughey and Church. It is excessively violent, but enjoyable none the less. Three and a half stars is about right. Check out Matt Damon's impersonation of MM on you tube.

Not sure how to categorise this one, which in itself is no bad thing. I took it to be more comedy than "noir". The rough, often abrupt editing reminded me of `No Country` and `Burn After Reading`. Avoid if you squirm at nudity and violence, otherwise give it a try. It`s engaging and rather peculiar. Three and a half stars.

In summery: The poster is better than the film. It's elements of Lynch and Coens may please many viewers. However, I thought this slice of redneck life was most unpleasing to the eye. Gershon is totally miscast. The KFC scene would have us think that Killer Joe is both a paedo and a twisted pervert - ... rendering the film without a hero or anti-hero. The biggest dis-appointment of the year so far. Funny song at the end of the film.