Killer Joe (2011)

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Released 14-Nov-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller/Action/Cmdy Interviews-Crew-Director William Friedkin
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-B Roll Footage
Trailer-x 3 for other films
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 98:03
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Ads Then Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By William Friedkin

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Matthew McConaughey
Emile Hirsch
Juno Temple
Thomas Haden Church
Gina Gershon
Scott A. Martin
Case ?
RPI ? Music Tyler Bates

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (256Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     When 22 year old drug dealer Chris (Emile Hirsch) has his stash stolen and sold by his mother Adele, he needs to come up with $6,000 to pay his supplier or be killed. Chris goes to visit his father Ansel (Thomas Haden Church), who is living in a trailer park with his new slutty wife Sharla (Gina Gershon) and Chris’ younger sister Dottie (Juno Temple), to ask for a loan, but Ansel is broke and cannot help. However, Chris has a plan. He knows that Adele has a $50,000 life assurance policy and that Dottie is the beneficiary so all they have to do is to arrange Adele’s death and split the insurance payout between them. Chris also has an idea who they can hire to kill Adele; a hit man named Killer Joe.

     With the agreement of the family Chris contacts Joe (Matthew McConaughey), who just also happens to be a Detective in the Dallas Police Department. They meet; Joe agrees to the hit but demands his fee of $25,000 up front. Chris, of course, does not have the money, and tries to persuade Joe that he will be paid when the insurance money comes through. Joe declines, but then has another idea: he has been impressed by young Dottie, and is willing to take her as sexual collateral until the money is paid. Dottie is not unwilling, and an agreement is reached. Now all Chris has to do is to keep his supplier from killing him until he can get his hands on the insurance money. But of course things do not go entirely to plan.

     Killer Joe is a very entertaining but brutal and off kilter crime thriller, with a jet black streak of humour, a good script, a fabulous cast and an experienced director in William Friedkin. Friedkin has some fabulous films to his credit that most would love to have on their CV, such as The French Connection (1971) and The Exorcist (1973), but it must be said his quality has dropped since that time although Rules of Engagement (2000) was reasonably well received; Killer Joe, however, will not do his reputation any harm.

     Killer Joe is based upon a stage play by Pulitzer Prize for Drama winning author (Tracy Letts); he also wrote the screen play and has opened out the film somewhat although certain scenes, such as the ones in the trailer, betray the stage origins of the film. All the cast are fabulous without a note out of place but the revelations are Matthew McConaughey and Juno Temple. McConaughey’s Joe is a still, quiet man; he has no extreme mannerisms and speaks quietly and slowly with impeccable manners even when discussing murder and killing, but when he bursts into action the transition is abrupt and deadly. Temple is equally as good as the girl / woman Dottie and the scenes between Dottie and Joe, such as their first “date” in the trailer, are beautifully underplayed with so much unsaid.

     Killer Joe is very black, and very entertaining. Be warned however that there are some quite brutal sequences so the film justifies its R rating for its violence and full nudity and so it is not for everyone; but if you need to know what you can do with a fried chicken leg, this is the film for you.

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Transfer Quality


     Killer Joe is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, the original theatrical ratio, and is 16x9 enhanced.

     This is a very good looking print. Detail is nice and sharp. One scene in the bar is blue lit but otherwise the colours are deep, natural and satisfying. Blacks and shadow detail are excellent, brightness, contrast and skin tones natural.

     There is occasional film grain, which looks good. There was also a fair amount of ghosting with movement against such backgrounds as wire or vertical lines (such as at 53:59) but otherwise I did not notice any film or video artefacts.

     Lip synchronisation is fine.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are available.

     A nice clean print with beautiful deep colours.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is a choice between English Dolby Digital 5.1 at 448 Kbps and English Dolby Digital 2.0 audio description for the vision impaired at 256 Kbps.

     This is a film with a lot of dialogue. It is generally clear and centred although some sentences from Juno Temple were soft and indistinct, when the subtitles helped. There is not a lot for the surrounds and rears to do but they were noticeable for thunder and other weather effects and when the bikers chased Chris and surrounded him. There were also some directional effects as cars pulled out of the frame. The subwoofer supported thunder, the explosion and music.

     The original score by Tyler Bates was effective and avoided the obvious Texan type music while providing good support for the visuals. There were also a couple of added songs, including Lee Hazelwood’s original version of These Boots are Made for Walkin’.

     The audio track is good, doing what was required, and then a bit more.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     The following trailers play on start-up and must be skipped. They cannot be selected from the extras menu: Lockout (1:29), The Expendables 2 (2:11) and Looper (1:37)

William Friedkin Interview (4:48)

     The director speaks briefly about Tracy Letts, the story and the cast. Friedkin is humorous and interesting, and it would have been nice to have more.

B Roll (15:01)

     Bits and pieces of on-set footage. No structure, no linking captions or narration but worth watching once to see some of the director’s working methods with the cast.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The Region 1 US release of Killer Joe features a Friedkin audio commentary that is described as “lively”, a making of, trailer and cast Q&A. The US is thus the better version.

     The Australian Blu-ray release has additional cast interviews, but again misses out on the director’s commentary.


     Killer Joe is a very entertaining, off kilter crime thriller with a jet black streak of humour, a good script, a fabulous cast and an interesting director. The film justifies its R rating for its violence and nudity so is not for everyone.

    The video and audio are very good, the extras OK but missing extras, including the commentary, available in the US.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Friday, January 11, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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