9 September 2011
*As usual it could contain one or two spoilers. Kill List is a rare breed in this day and age, a genuinely decent British horror film. Ben Wheatley's second feature is far more assured than his debut Down Terrace which despite being made for peanuts in mere weeks, which is always commendable of course; was as far as I'm concerned pretty poor stuff despite the plaudits and praise bestowed upon it. Anyway my point being Kill List has had more of the same treatment, nothing but favourable reviews, this time though it's fully justified.
The first I noticed of this film was an intentionally vague black advert in Little White Lies' last issue, just the title and a bunch of rave reviews reeled me in and I did a bit of searching on google to see what it was about. Neil Maskell who will be familiar to many as being Danny Dyer's fat pal Rod in The Football Factory (2004) and thus appearing in various of the samey Saturday night straight to dvd fodder 'geezer' films with all their gangland/violent ensembles that tended to follow that one like the plague.
He's actually chalked up a long list of films including smaller roles in the excellent Nil By Mouth (1997) and the sleazy but decent Tony (2009) but here, he's the lead and is actually thoroughly decent as Jay a husband and father living the comfortable, suburban life - albeit out of work for the last 8 months thoroughly tormented by his past. That being a former soldier turned hired-hit man suffering from post traumatic stress from the career chosen and more-so the last job in Kiev that clearly didn't go too well.
Early on we're shown his wife (MyAnna Buring) is fed up, finally the money has ran out, when the booze flows so does the domestic disagreements! It's time for more work and reluctantly he knows it. His partner Gal (Michael Smiley) whom you'll remember best as the bike messenger raver 'Tyres' in Spaced, tells him he's been offered a kill-list of new targets and they duly accept meeting up with a strange and mysterious employer who insists on sealing the deal with blood straight from a knifed gash to Jay's palm.
Soon they are off on the road living out the Alan Partridge lifestyle in the hotels and travelodge's, both are seemingly likable chaps, however it soon shows when it's time for business they are both ruthless and execute their job (pardon the pun) with extreme efficiency. As it goes on it's clearly becoming a tormenting time for Jay who starts to show emotion and less professionalism with the kills, especially as the victims seem to be somehow grateful. Thus some brutal, graphic violence ensues (the sort that would be cut out indefinitely under the old BBFC regime) I'm not really the mega-squeamish type but seeing a head caved in with a hammer was a bit much, I'd have looked away had it gone on a second longer. Soon he starts to want out as each time bizarre circumstances seem to leave him more and more baffled, he starts to worry about his family so try's to get out of the contract but is told bluntly what would happen if he does and is handed another list. Here after a few hints and oddments throughout; the film gradually takes a darker leap to the final chapter building up some unbearable and unsettling tension all the time, we're now fully in a horror film and the final act is one which will be likened to the Wicker Man with an ending that will leave you disorientated, baffled and definitely uncomfortable in your seat.
Kill List is a triumph of film making mashing the genres and emotions like few others and even more when you consider the micro-budget involved in getting it made. Put it this way, there was probably less than ten people in the cinema yesterday afternoon, but not one of them got up to leave until the lights came back on. Kill List
Posted by One-up at 19:19