Director: Ben Wheatley
Watch it if you like: The Wicker Man, Don’t Look Now, Rosemary’s Baby
So, how do I begin this? Hmmm I could talk about how Kill List is a meditation on how modern men cope in a recession or I could just say – this film is really f**king weird. I’ll focus on the second part if you don’t mind.
The story is set up quickly, Jay (Neil Maskell) is a broke ex soldier who takes on a job suggested by his friend Gal (played by Spaced’s Michael Smiley) to kill three different people on the titular kill list. I don’t think i’m giving too much away to say that things turn to shit. Who is the mysterious man who hires them, what is the strange symbol that is often seen, why is everyone obsessed with blood. If you want the answers to these questions then you might be disappointed. Kill List is less a thriller and more of a mood piece, with that mood being primarily ‘what the f**k?!’.
It’s not a film for everyone and by that I mean a lot of people will outright hate it. For me though I liked the creepy atmosphere which, although sometimes forced, kept me watching. People say weird things, there are outbursts of extreme violence, and all this through an undercurrent of evil people doing evil things. I liked the fact that the plot revolved around a working middle class family put into an extremely freaky situation. It might be a commentary on unemployment and financial problems but this is never really explored in favour of loooong scenes of naturalistic family chat and distracting jump cuts. All. The. Time.
There are definite shades of Rosemary’s Baby and The Wicker Man but Kill List is not in their league for one main reason. These classics had a lead character we really sympathise with. John in Kill List is slightly sympathetic, with a overbearing wife and money worries but he loses this when he starts killing people in extremely violent ways. The meaning of the film is hard to grasp and the pace of the film is weird, a long opening scene of the family fighting followed by shorter scenes of the aforementioned violence.
So do I like Kill List? Well ‘like’is not a word you could apply to this. I was gripped by it’s inherent strangeness, wanting to figure out the mystery of it all. The fact that the mystery is never solved is both a good and bad thing for the movie. It makes the film oblique meaning that it sticks in your head but for some people it will anger them. Kill List is worth watching to see the seriously f**ked up climax but it’s a movie that will divide audiences like a hammer cleaving someone’s head.