September 2, 2011
United Kingdom (English, Swedish)
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Written by Wheatley and Amy Jump
The genuine performances all around will bring you into Kill List, but its march into the horrific unknown won't let you leave.
Jay hasn't been to work in 8 months and his marriage is on the rocks. His young son is frequently a witness to the loud arguments between mom and dad. If it weren't for the creepy music and audio transitions (creepy stuff like "Wake up... Wake up Daddy!" before we see it's simply Jay's son at his bedside) I would think the beginning of Ben Wheatley's Kill List is an examination of a deteriorating family unit. It is that. And more. With a name like Kill List we expect something else to be in store.
Jay is played by Neil Maskell. His best friend Gal is played by Michael Smiley. We gradually learn that the two were soldiers together and later became hit men together. We join their lives, through the prism of Jay, just as they're about to take on a new assignment with three targets. It becomes clear that they're professionals, even if Jay has the tendency to fly off the handle. He seems to become more and more unhinged with each passing scene. Maskell and Smiley are the driving force for much of Kill List. Their genuine demeanor, repertoire with one one another and divisive interactions with others make for two real deal characters. Two guys you'd never want to cross paths with in real life but magnetizing characters onscreen.
After one successful hit Jay has a video chat with his wife from the hotel. She's pleased to find out it was a "clean" job. The characters in Jay's life will lead you to questions and concerns, but none are as mysterious as Jay himself. One scene noticeably leaves us in the car with Gal while Jay goes into a warehouse to deal with some people affiliated with some pretty heinous stuff. How can we sympathize with bad men? When they are pitted against pure evil. The assignment drags Jay and Gal along a deep, dark corridor with secret passages you will not see coming.
Well before the last shot you'll know you've been dropped into a full-fledged horror film. Terrifying and troubling scenes lies further down the Kill List. One fan described it as In Bruges (one of my favorites films of the last decade) meets a particular cult-favorite horror film. I hesitate to name it as its very subject matter could give away the shocking place(s) Wheatley takes us. I referenced Gaspar Noé's Irreversible when describing it to my wife, which should warn any of that graphic nature of its content. If you're in for one hellish descent of an experience, and one of the best horror movies this side of The Descent, you must consider Kill List.
"He just likes killing rabbits."
CONTENT: strong graphic and bloody violence, gore, strong language, full male and female nudity, graphic sexual references, disturbing and frightening images