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November 24, 2012
Killer Joe Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
7/6/201214/11/2012Village RoadshowWilliam Friedkin
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1R18+Matthew McConaughey

THE MOVIE
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Matthew McConaughey plays "Killer Joe".

Prior to Village Roadshow announcing this Blu-Ray release it was not a film I was familiar with, but that's not surprising given it never hit theatres in Australia. But a quick investigation, and a look at the cast list alone had me hooked. Matthew McConaughey (The Lincoln Lawyer), Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer), Juno Temple (The Dark Knight Rises), Gina Gershen (Face/Off) and Thomas Haden Church (Spider-man 3) are all fantastic actors, and dropping them into Tracy Lett's 1993 play was certain to generate interest. So with all the cards in place, we checked out the film, Killer Joe...

When 22 year old drug dealer Chris has his stash stolen by his mother, he has to come up with six thousand dollars quick or hes dead. Desperate, he turns to Killer Joe when he finds out that his mothers life insurance policy is worth $50,000. Although Joe usually demands cash up front, he finds himself willing to bend the rules in exchange for Chris attractive younger sister, Dottie, until the money comes in.

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Emile Hirsch stars, and is bruised, in Killer Joe.
Very much a dark comedy/drama this is a film that while perhaps showing some sterotypical "trailer trash" elements hooks you in with characters you start to, if not care about, understand and relate to. Be it the young drug dealing Chris, the "beyond caring" father Ansel, the stepmum Sharla, or the abused young woman, and Chris' sister, Dottie there will be characters here that almost everyone could relate to. Performances across the board are very solid with Gina Gershen putting in a very solid, and we can imagine a very traumatic to perform, turn as the step-mum who is not only battered, but also rather explicately sexually abused. Let's not even talk about seeing her ladybush front and center in the first few minutes of the film (unless, of course, it was a double).

We must point out that this Blu-Ray containss the 102-minute original version of the film, not the 98-minute cut version. We're not actually sure if the shorter version was to fit it into the ratings in some territories, but this certainly isn't a film for youngsters with scenes of violence, nudity and sexually explicit content. The R18+ rating is well deserved so be wary of who's seeing this film.

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It's fair to say that Killer Joe is violent...
At times witty, often engrossing, and with superb acting Killer Joe isn't a film for everyone, but it is quite an emotional experience with great performances, and a decent storyline.

VIDEO
Killer Joe is presented on Blu-Ray at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, and has been encoded using the now very popular AVC MPEG-4 codec (it seems MPEG-2 is, rightfully dead on Blu-Ray, and VC-1 seems rarely used too). Visually the film retains a realistic, naturaly look to it and the transfer generally shows fine detail, good contrast levels and natural colours. With a bitrate that mostly hovers around 25Mbps, but occasionally peaks around 35Mbps according to our PS3 system we reviewd the disc on. This film isn't one filled with Hollywood flash and style, but has a nice, natural look to it and it is, indeed, a disc we'd be happy to show off on a quality HDTV.

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... and contains some rather sexual scenes.
AUDIO
From the opening moments when Chris is knocking on the front door (at the 1:30 mark or so), you know this is going to be a great sounding film with plenty of surround sound use. The audio has been encoded with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) track and as expected the audio is crystal clear. Dialogue, and the manu profanities, is prioritised and even when in a strip club with loud music playing the dialogue is easy to understand.

Besides the primary English track there is only one other audio option, an Audio Descirptive track in Dolby Digital 2.0 at 256kbps. As with so many other films it's disappointing that the Audio Descriptive track misses out on surround sound, and thus a little more immersion.

Subtitles are also limited with a single English Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired. Subtitles are coloured according to who's talking on-screen, but are accurate to the lines of spoken dialogue.

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Juno Temple is an actress to keep an eye on (not only for her good looks, but acting ability).
EXTRAS
Upon starting the Blu-Ray you will encounter an Anti-Piracy Ad (0:38), and trailers for Lockout (1:33), The Expendables 2 (2:16), and Looper (1:47). All great looking movies, and the trailers are all skippable... but what about the "real" extras besides the Digital Copy of the film? Read on...

Interviews (13:06/HD): Interviews with Matthew McConaughey (2:15), Emile Hirsch (3:55), Juno Temple (3:17), Gina Gershen (1:58), Thomas Haden (1:41) and director William Friedkin (4:59). With only a couple of minutes with each actor there isn't anything too in-depth here but there are a couple of interesting moments from Matthew, Emile and the director William in particular.

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Gina Gershen puts in a solid performance.
B-Roll (15:39/HD): This B-Roll footage is essentially fly-on-the-wall footage from the set and despite some pretty horrible audio quality at times (due to plenty of background noise), it still gives a good idea of what it's like on-set.

OVERALL
Killer Joe is certainly an interesting, and often superbly written, film with great performances, but also some rather disturbing moments (hence the R18+ rating here in Australia). As long as you can cope with some high impact violence and sexual content this is a film worth checking out.

Review By: Dave Warner

THE MOVIE
7/10
THE VIDEO
9/10
THE AUDIO
9/10
THE EXTRAS
4/10
OVERALL
7/10

Note: All images in this article are Copyrightę Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.