Killer Joe


Killer Joe

Critics Consensus

Violent, darkly comic, and full of strong performances, Killer Joe proves William Friedkin hasn't lost his touch, even if the plot may be too lurid for some.



Total Count: 165


Audience Score

User Ratings: 80,134
User image

Watch it now

Killer Joe Photos

Movie Info

When 22 year-old drug dealer Chris (Hirsch) has his stash of drugs stolen from him by his mother, he has to come up with six-thousand dollars quick, or he's dead. Desperate, he goes to the trailer-park to see his father, Ansel (Hayden Church), and he lays out the plan. Chris's mother, who everyone hates, has a life insurance policy that would clear up his debt and make them all rich. The problem is that Chris' mother is very much alive. Enter Detective "Killer" Joe Cooper, a hired hit man with the manners of a Southern gentleman, who will do the job - for an upfront fee, that Chris and Ansel can't pay. Just as Joe is about to leave, he spots Dottie (Temple), Chris' innocent younger sister. Joe makes Chris an offer, he'll keep Dottie as sexual collateral until the money is collected and his fee can be paid. -- (C) Voltage Pictures


Matthew McConaughey
as "Killer" Joe Cooper
Emile Hirsch
as Chris Smith
Juno Temple
as Dottie Smith
Gina Gershon
as Sharla Smith
Marc Macaulay
as Digger Soames
Scott Martin
as Pizza Manager
Graylen Banks
as Pizza Patron
Carol Sutton
as Saleslady
Jeffrey Galpin
as Biker Thug
Gregory Bauchard
as Filpatrick
Charley Vance
as Preacher
View All

News & Interviews for Killer Joe

Critic Reviews for Killer Joe

All Critics (165) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (130) | Rotten (35)

  • If you like your movies filled with twisted humor, sexual perversion, psychological intimidation and sudden violence, "Killer Joe" is the flick for you.

    Aug 31, 2012 | Rating: B | Full Review…

    Tom Long

    Detroit News
    Top Critic
  • Watching "Killer Joe" to the bitter end is like playing the Pick 6 lottery and getting three of the numbers right. You don't win anything, but you still think you're smarter than all those other idiots.

    Aug 24, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • [Friedkin] has retained his touch ... all these years later. And in Matthew McConaughey, he has the perfect vehicle for madness.

    Aug 23, 2012 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • You end up feeling sorry for all the actors forced to humiliate themselves, except for McConaughey, whose portrayal of sadistic, manipulative evil is mesmerizing.

    Aug 23, 2012 | Rating: 2/4
  • The movie frequently clicks as a sendup of over-the-top film-noir storytelling.

    Aug 16, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4
  • If y'all like your comedy with a Lone Star drawl and as black as Texas tea, then by all means tuck right into Killer Joe.

    Aug 10, 2012 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Killer Joe

  • Feb 06, 2017
    On the one hand, Killer Joe does get better as it progresses, but on the other, it's also the first Friedkin movie I haven't loved.
    Gimly M Super Reviewer
  • May 17, 2016
    A nasty southern tale of all the taboo subject. Killer Joe is a almost an homage to Fargo (but much darker) about a hired gunman to create insurance fraud gone wrong. There was not a single likeable character in this depressing tale of depravity, it was surprising to see McConaughey playing the villain though. It makes us laugh at the uncomfortable situation with the sophistication, but you certainly don't want to watch it again.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Sep 18, 2015
    A young drug dealer falls into debt, so he trades his sister for the services of a hitman, who will kill his mother for insurance money. Tracy Letts and William Friedkin follow up their relentless, paranoid thriller Bug with an even more relentless thriller in Killer Joe. Like Bug, it's almost impossible to tell where the plot is going, yet each turn is logical and character-driven. The action moments seem shoe-horned in, but the interactions between the characters are profoundly disturbing and occasionally disarmingly funny. The performances by Matthew McConaughey (the first film in his insurgence toward Oscar-worthy work), Emile Hirsch, Thomas Haden Church, Juno Temple, and Gina Gershon are all fantastic. Hirsch and Temple are especially good with characters stripped of dignity and gazing wide-eyed at the world's depravity. Overall, Letts and Friedkin are great together, and Killer Joe is a wonderfully disturbing follow-up.
    Jim H Super Reviewer
  • Dec 23, 2013
    Friedkin has this weird habit of making annoying and standard films during the first half or the first 66% of the film for then offering a solid payback to the audience. Just like his disappointing and pretentious mess called <i>Bug</i> (2006), <i>Killer Joe</i> has also shared features: i. An electrifying and disturbing male leading role. ii. A boring and forgettable build-up. iii. A GOOD third act with comedic shock value added. iv. An ambiguous ending. Friedkin is desperately trying to challenge boundaries (is he trying to approach the <i>Serbian Film</i> realm before he gets too old?). It is not the first time he manages to put an underage girl performing shocking content (heh). I applaud his bravery, not the final outcome. McConaughey just got his best role so far and another NC-17 film that had to be cut has been released (say no to censorship!), but that is not enough. If he were able to either keep consistency throughout the whole running time, or making a quality build-up that engages its audience for then punishing the audience with a shockfest that causes cognitive dissonance, he could return to his best decade: the 70s... because I really, really loved the last 30 minutes, and they were funny as fuck. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some KFC to eat. 61/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer

Killer Joe Quotes

News & Features