User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 104 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 81 out of 104
  2. Negative: 12 out of 104

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  1. Sep 30, 2014
    A comedy as black as Beelzebub's soul. Brutality, sexual violence - not a film for the faint of heart or easily shocked. William Friedkin shows he hasn't mellowed in old age. Matthew McConaughey gives a brilliant performance as a cop who moonlights as a hit man and exploits with glee a family whose stupidity is matched only by their greed. This is Tennessee Williams on steroids.
  2. Aug 31, 2014
    Wtf? Did anyone notice Matt M. (K.J.)'s badge number was 714. ...the same number that Jack Webb had in Dragnet.... The same number that was written on a quaalude .... WTF ?
  3. Aug 1, 2014
    Vile, twisted, disgusting, disturbing, perverted, over the top, and violent, Killer Joe is actually a really good film. Now, it is entirely twisted, but the pitch black comedic moments lighten things up a bit. The sexual scenes are also a little much for my taste and at times this one was basically pornographic. However, Matthew McConaughey is so good in this one it hurts. Joe Cooper, his character, is easily one of the best villains I have seen in a long time, maybe the best I have seen since Hannibal Lecter. Twisted, sadistic, and entirely crazy, McConaughey's Cooper commands the screen and incites terror the first time you see him and even more so as you see just how insane and sadistic he truly is. Nobody is really safe from his wrath, not even the viewer, as by the end, it feels like he has even taken a piece of you. This one is violent and a tough watch, so it is not for everybody without question, but if this one does not leave you speechless at the end, I do not know what will. Very well made film here with a phenomenal, Oscar worthy turn from Matthew McConaughey. Expand
  4. Apr 28, 2014
    An uncompromising film that allows Friedkin to showcase all the tricks he has acquired throughout his extensive career. With clever casting lead by the flawless McConaughey, Killer Joe is a dark and twisted story that draws the viewer into the sordid truth of human morality. A film that does not try strive for artistic perfection at the expense of entertainment. A refreshing blend of experience and youth allows this film to stand out from the crowd and is certainly worth a watch. A must see for all KFC enthusiasts. Expand
  5. Mar 26, 2014
    Dark, Funny, and true to It's story line, Killer Joe is a enjoyable cinematic experience for any fans of mystery movies with brutality. The only question is--- Would Colonel Sanders be proud?
  6. Mar 20, 2014
    this film marked the beginning of the McConaissance and with good reason: mcconaughey is perfection. smartest guy in the room, charming, and cold. brilliant and gutsy career choice. thomas haden church is also perfection. two great texas boys. i'm not a grindhouse fan, but the black humor. gorgeous cinematography, and friedkin's direction made this B-movie modern noir. had to watch some with one eye closed, but, hey, i had been warned. to think a director in his mid-70s made this film and wouldn't compromise makes me admire william friedkin all the more. Expand
  7. Aug 11, 2013
    Because it’s based on a play the action does all seem to occur in one place; predominantly the Smith family trailer. I didn’t find this too distracting but I did find it a little claustrophobic at times. All of the performances were truly excellent but I have to say the critics were right; Matthew McConaughey really does stand out in this one. There are some really violent scenes in this one so I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for younger viewers; the 18 Certificate is definitely more than a guideline here. I really liked the underlying dark humour throughout; it gave the narrative a little more interest. Over all, an interesting watch with some nice touches; it doesn’t have any particularly stunning effects but it’s a well crafted character-driven piece. Well worth a look if you get the chance.

    SteelMonster’s verdict: RECOMMENDED

    My score: 7.7/10.
  8. Jun 20, 2013
    One messed up movie I give you that. The plot is rather shallow and the cast isn't that good. Only thing that really saves the film is McConaughey's strong performance. Still worth giving a chance though.
  9. Jun 8, 2013
    I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed this movie considering how dark, brutal, and sometimes down-right disgusting it can be. More impressive is how it can make you laugh. It's a look at the darker, greedier side of people and how simple ignorance can cost us greatly. The cast is fantastic, Matthew McConaughey, Juno Temple, and Thomas Haden Church give the best performances I've seen from them yet, and let's be honest Emile Hirsch was born to give fantastic performances like this one. It's a great movie, the only complaint I have is that the ending was kind of a cliff hanger. It's perfectly acceptable, but it really felt like there should have been a few more minutes before the credits rolled. In the end it's a great and graphic movie that you should check out. Just be sure you can handle brutal movies, or this one will mess you up. Expand
  10. Jun 3, 2013
    As described by many, Killer Joe is a neo-noir set in Texas. For lovers of noir, it is a welcomed occurrence, because the genre is not popular. However, it definitely carries things very far. It breaks censorship's boundaries unimaginable in the 40's and pushes the limit very far even for 2012.

    The plot revolves around a family of dim-witted red-necks plotting a murder to collect
    insurance money. The key word being dim-witted. Chris (played to perfection by Hirsch) is the son, a pathetic looser who sets the plot in motion due to his debt with a drug lord. Despite his many shortcomings, I could not help feeling sorry for Chris, also because of all the beating he takes.

    Enter father Ansel and step-mum Sharla (some entrance she makes). They both agree with the plan to kill Chris's mum, a drunkard with an insurance policy and a boyfriend named Rex. The beneficiary of the policy is said to be daughter Dottie. Being the dumbest of the family, she is also the more dangerous, because her actions are completely unpredictable.

    Chris hires Killer Joe and from then on the movie takes an even darker turn, as if planning to kill one's mother is not bad enough. Joe decides to keep Dottie as a retainer, since the family cannot pay in advance for his services. This upsets Chris, who is protective towards little sister Dottie, although in a disproportionate way. After mum's been disposed off, huge trouble erupts.

    Without giving too much away, I would suggest keeping double indemnity in mind and not only as a reference to one of the best classic noirs ever made. Also, do not forget about Rex, those face remains unseen…For what concerns the notorious scene at the end, I never saw a drumstick used like Joe does and I hope never to see it again. As far as disturbing goes, that will be a scene difficult to top. Think about Blue Velvet/Rossellini/Hopper, but sicker.

    Contrary to audiences in the US, nobody left the screening room in Brussels. However, considering the level of gore reached by horror movies, I wonder why part of the audience is squeamish only about some scenes but can watch bodies being dismembered without any problem…

    The biggest surprise of the film was McConaughey playing cool and brutal cop/hired killer Joe. I am so used seeing him playing the bland boyfriend I did not think he could be convincing. I loved the scene of Joe arrival and the watch dog shutting up, after non-stop barking. It just sets the right atmosphere without any word being spoken.

    So far I thought of McConaughey as an American Hugh Grant, but I honestly do not think Grant could manage anything of the sort. Hope McConaughey will continue trying interesting roles and drop the "boyfriend" route.
  11. May 27, 2013
    Posted on 5/19/13 09:42 AM
    Altogether ill say this is a trashy film the straw that broke this camel back was the drum stick.
  12. Mar 20, 2013
    Killer Joe is Chiller Joe. This is the last word in dysfunctional families. The movie is by turns comic and horrifying, with no wrong notes struck and a happy ending to end all happy endings. We really do need to let Texas secede if they care to.
  13. Mar 15, 2013
    An ultimately disappointing film, that tries to be Blue Velvet, without the cutting edge. Sure it keeps you interested, but it goes nowhere and ends inconclusively. If this movie was a vending machine, I'd be banging the sides, trying to get my money back.
  14. Mar 11, 2013
    This film shows everyone how good Matthew McConaughey is when he's in the right role. Sure there are a few disturbing things in this film, but I kind of dug it anyway.
  15. BKM
    Feb 25, 2013
    Perhaps the greatest quality of Killer Joe is that it never pretends to be anything more than a wickedly deranged and entertaining piece of trash. Freed from the obligation to make any sort of artistic statement, Friedkin delivers the goods and coaxes stellar performances from his cast; particularly McConaughey and Church. It's definitely not for everyone, but it never tries to be.
  16. Jan 25, 2013
    Killer Joe disappointed me due to a weak story and weaker characters. Matthew McConaughey was decent as usual (I tend to appreciate the characters/acting he brings to a film). However, the frustratingly unlikable supporting cast and overly offensive story elements did not work for me. For those planning on watching this movie, be aware there a moments in the film (at least in the unrated version) that come off as "lets shock the audience by adding something completely pointless and disgusting". I give it a 3 instead of a 0 because Matthew McConaughey, the camera work, the sound, and the editing were not the worst I've seen in a movie (although I'm having trouble remembering a movie I have liked less). Expand
  17. Jan 2, 2013
    I am a 23-year-old man and this movie is going to give me nightmares. I don't think I've ever seen a more disturbing movie. The only character that's actually likeable in the entire film is "Ansel". I can't think of anything else to say except this movie is both good and extremely unsettling.
  18. Dec 24, 2012
    This movie is a complete waste of time. If you are into trashy dumb movies with over the top violence and stupidity you will probably like this movie. The ending is beyond ignorant.
  19. Dec 22, 2012
    This is the work of a seasoned, masterful Director leading a cast through a " black as coal" script - and it works perfectly. Matthew McConaughey leads a terrific cast, all of whom commit to everything in the script. Kudos to the entire cast for taking this risk. This is a modern day film noir classic, just be prepared for a film that doesn't flinch.
  20. Nov 16, 2012
    This is real film noir--not the private eye low key lighting kind but a real dip in the nasty stew of human greed and concupiscence. Hence, not for everyone. The actors are wonderful at revealing how naivete can turn amoral and good manners mask perversity and violence--and all regarded as part of the human comedy.. The cast is pitch perfect. A special cheer for McConaughey and for Gina Gershon and Emile Hirsch. Expand
  21. Nov 5, 2012
    Even when Killer Joe goes over the top, and it does, way over the top, McConaughey and the rest of the cast create a fiery energy that keeps you on your toes.
  22. Oct 8, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Marshal Will Kane, in High Noon, gives Helen Ramirez, a Mexican prostitute, advance warning about the gun-slinging menace heading their way. Frank Miller is returning home, and that can only spell trouble for the denizens of this New Mexico outback, especially Helen, since both men were the whore's intimates. Just because the marshal found himself a respectable girl, the former Amy Fowler, it doesn't mean Kane, gentleman that he is, would forget about a past lover. Gary Cooper stood for law and order; his character was an honorable man, a good man. It's what moviegoers expected in 1952. Sure, there was an audience that championed low-lives, the deceitful men and women who populated the dark shadows of film noir, but it's doubtful if those same vicarious thrill-seekers could handle Lou Ford, the anti-hero protagonist in Jim Thompson's The Killer Inside Me, a roman noir about the deputy sheriff of a two bit Texas town who had a hankering for kinky sex and murdering women with his bare hands. Also released in '52, The Killer Inside Me can be read as a degenerate inverse of High Noon, since not only does Lou kill the whore, but his fiance, as well. Due to the brute force and exceptional cruelty inherent in the violence, it's understandable as to why The Killer Inside Me never made it to the screen, even during the heyday of the crime film. Thompson writes: "I backed her against the wall, slugging, and it was like pounding a pumpkin." The Hayes Production Code, with its strictures put on violent and sexual content, in effect, rendered such an image practically unfilmable, or rather, because of the times, the filmmaker wouldn't be able to carry out the pulp writer's diseased outlook on humanity with any real integrity. Arguably, Michael Winterbottom, afforded with the luxury of celluloidal frankness in the way of visceral thrills, delves into Thompson's imagination with such vivid precision, it borders on unconscionable depravity. His serious grindhouse approach to violence is hard to stomach. When Lou Ford carves up Joyce Lakeland's face, she ends up with malleable skin, bloodied, a surface disfigured by bareknuckle punches. She becomes the smashed pumpkin that Thompson implied. Even worse, in the film noir sense, it's an unjustified murder, because Joyce is no femme fatale. She loves Lou: doesn't even smoke. In Killer Joe, Sharla gets it pretty bad, too, but unlike Joyce, the trailer trash housewife is a femme fatale, the kind who lets another man do her bidding in order to collect on an insurance policy's capital sum(a la Barbara Stanwyck). Schematically speaking, as it pertains to genre, the money hungry waitress gets what she deserves. Returning home with a bucket of chicken from KFC, Sharla asks Joe, "What do you like, light or dark meat?" "Leg," he answers. Not a drumstick, a leg. The word choice is important. The filmmaker applies the "graphic imperative"(in short, what goes on after the screen fades to black) to the classic film noir, through the self-conscious updating of the Billy Wilder film, in which the causation of blood, and especially, sex, would have been left to the moviegoer's imagination. Whereas the police detective sexualizes the drumstick by forcing Sharla to perform oral sex on a deep-fried phallic object, Walter Neff, insurance salesman, does the same to Phyllis Dietrichson's leg, **** it("and the way that anklet cut into her leg."), as the oil tycoon's wife climbs down "that silly staircase." Double Indemnity gets around the unrealistic likelihood of their relationship being a chaste one by making Neff a fallible narrator. He dictates a whitewashing memo into the claims manager's dictaphone, rife with obvious gaps. "So we just sat there," Neff says, but after Phyllis leaves his apartment, he straightens out the bunched-up rug with his shoe, evidence of lovemaking on the floor. With her stepdaughter, whom Neff admits to seeing "three or four times a week," an improper affair is suggested, telling Keyes that "one night we went up into the hills behind the Hollywood Bowl," a secluded place where sex is a potentiality. In Killer Joe, the titular character uses Dottie, an underage girl, as a retainer, when her brother can't scrounge up the money. Not for nothing is Walter's special friend named Lola(read: Lolita), and the filmmaker knows it, since here, Joe wants to run away with the virgin, and more disturbingly, so does Chris, thereby forming a bizarre love triangle. "Straight down the middle," is how Walter and Phyllis describe their murder plot, and perhaps, not coincidentally, the siblings, in Killer Joe, walk down a train track, the place where Mr. Dietrichson's cold body ends up. Dottie, is both, a good and bad girl, the heroine and the femme fatale. Although she has a hand in her mother's murder, the girl is also a victim of child abuse. When Dottie shoots Chris, the girl inhabits both roles simultaneously. Expand
  23. Oct 2, 2012
    This ambitious film tries to be trashy noir, but ends up mostly garbage. A trailer park family (Emile Hirsch, Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church) conspires to kill their estranged matriarch for her money and hire a pro (Matthew McConaughey) to do the job. Turns out he's real twisted and when things inevitably go awry, he twists even more. There are two problems: the script isn't smart or sassy enough for the genre and most of the cast isn't believable. The exception is McConaughey, who's savoring every bit of scenery in that mobile home. The assured hand of director William Friedkin keeps the film competently watchable, but the script gets in the way. Expand
  24. Sep 8, 2012
    If you are turned off by violence realistically portrayed (no computer-generated antics here), stay away. None of it is gratuitous, all are essential -- and it is strong stuff. The movie builds in intensity relentlessly, all the way through, maintaining a reality within its milieu, and left us almost breathless as the final encounter builds and builds. Every character is believable while the story line goes deeper and deeper into their desperation, arrogance, cowardice, greed, love, infidelity, stupidity, and sadistic domination. "Love Story" it ain't. But it is a gem of what it set out to be. Expand
  25. Aug 22, 2012
    I do not see how any one saw this movie as an under rated gem. I saw it as a cheap gimmick that insulted my intelligence. Trashy humor is nothing new so if you are going to do it you had better do it well. They don't! Excessive violence is nothing new so if you are going to do it, you had better do it well. They don't. Thomas Hayden Church was funny but McConaughey looked liked a fool in his role. Morgernstern's review nailed this film. Read it and I agree entirely. Expand
  26. Aug 21, 2012
    Killer Joe is definitely an underrated gem for 2012. given an NC-17 will probably ruin any hopes of a good theatrical run but this film is on the fast track to be a cult classic. The direction that William Friedkin drives this film is slow and dirty. The Gallows Humor found in this film is hilarious and the violence is electrifying. Saying Killer Joe is just a regular noir film is a downright insult to the cast and crew. Expand
  27. Aug 9, 2012
    It's by far the best B-movie, film noir, grindhouse-style film I've seen in a long time. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's funny as hell. McConaughey is terrific - it's almost an extension of his role on Magic Mike - an egotistical control freak. But Thomas Haden Church steals the show with his deadpan style of humor. Great fun.
  28. Jul 31, 2012
    Matthew McConaughey completely steals the show in Killer Joe, where he plays a detective who also works as a hired gun. McConaughey has moved himself away from the typical "pretty boy" roles he usually takes on and instead portrays a cold, ruthless killer with a contrasting strange taste for fine etiquette. Definitely the performance of the year thus far.

Generally favorable reviews - based on 38 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 38
  2. Negative: 4 out of 38
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Aug 24, 2012
    Killer Joe is one of the most repugnant parodies of small-town stupidity that you will ever see, and Friedkin amplifies the shrill obscenities with blaring cartoon and kung-fu footage from his art director's fever dreams.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Aug 24, 2012
    An unflinchingly ugly -- but downright mesmerizing -- tale that plumbs the depths of human immorality and, along the way, offers a dash of subtle commentary on just how far we, as a 312 million-member nuclear family, might have lost our way.
  3. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 24, 2012
    You end up feeling sorry for all the actors forced to humiliate themselves, except for McConaughey, whose portrayal of sadistic, manipulative evil is mesmerizing, in part because it was so unexpected. He continues to surprise. Friedkin, sadly, continues to coast.