FILM: Kill List (2011)
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
I feel quite wrong to be doing the review of Kill List for the DVD release when our very own David Gillespie summed it all up perfectly in his Cinema review which you can read by clicking on the link below. What I loved about his short but wonderful review is that it sums up why at times “Less is better!”. He carefully not mentioned anything about the direction of the film just how it left him shaken and disturbed and while he give a few little hints in what to expect, not once did he manage to put a thought into your head about how this film pans out. I like many who read his review and had not seen this remarkable British film, I went in not knowing what to expect, yes I may have had a slight idea that it was about a man was going to do “one last job!” and like all british gangster films it goes wrong, but oh boy!, this is not the way I expected.
Kill List is probably the best film of 2011. There be loads that may argue with me especially with the likes of Drive and We Need To Talk About Kevin winning massive critical and fan acclaim, but no other film this year has sucked me in with feelings of despair and in the words of David himself “left me shaken” like this film managed too. Also and this is a bold thing to say but because I have watched the film at the tail end of this year, I very much doubt that I see a better film than this in the year 2012.
So why such high praise?
Well the film is just faultless. Even from the off you get a scent of impending doom that you just can not escape from. The film starts with a vicious argument between a married couple Jay (Neil Maskell) and Shel (Myanna Buring) who have fallen on hard times due to Jay’s inability to work due to a bad back which was caused after a terrible incident in Kiev over eight months ago. We are told that the incident involved a botched killing that Jay and his partner in crime Gal (Michael Smiley) some how done in their roles as assassins. With no money coming in and bills piling up, the stress is evident and yet despite the brutal arguments you get a feeling that is the best its going to get for the young couple.
We then get to a dinner party which Gal and his new girlfriend arrive and we get even more dialogue which plays out more like a hard core soap opera and there will some viewers who start to question the praise that this film generates. Yes, the whole opening half is heavy on the talk but then those who saw Director’s Ben Wheatley’s debut film Down Terrace will know what to expect because the beginning of this film and the majority of his previous share the same blue-print. But what I loved here is the sudden jolt that hits you between the eyes that makes you sit up and question the whole show. Now like David I am not going to go into any spoilers here, so all I say is when someone looks into a bathroom mirror and then decides to do a bit of artistic work, your mind will blow especially with the spooky soundtrack that ripples through the surround stereo and into your spine that sends chills to your brain.
Jay agrees to go back into the business and a kill list is born. The screen flashes big white bold writing against a black backdrop to inform us who is next on the list and we get to see first hand into how much of a bunch of bastards these two are. There is one kill scene that will leave your breathless and I mean gasping for breath. It involves an hammer and a poor unfortunate victim that is so brutal it is the horror scene of the year. I recently voted for the bed sheet in Paranormal Activity 3 as the best of 2011 and it makes me feel so ashamed because I sat there open mouthed at the brutal efficiency being displayed on screen, I felt horror like never before and I realised that I was watching something really special here.
But then after that set-piece you still do not know what is coming. The film follows in the path of the likes of Dusk Till Dawn and Mann’s The Keep in which we start with one genre and then jump to another. Like the mentioned two films the final half is all about the horror and no one will see the sudden turn of pace that will leave you spinning in awe. Yes the film does give you hints before the big showdown, we have a dead rabbit found in the garden, a cat being hanged outside the house and even more bizarre subtle clues but even then you can not grasp what you seeing, The shift in tone is powerful and downright scary and there is a echo of Jack Starrett’s Race With the Devil, to it all!
Wheatley is a man who really does have talent behind the camera and this excites me because I really can not wait to see what he offers in his third film. Will it get any better than this? I very much doubt it because Kill List is a tour de force of film making, a masterpiece that British cinema should be proud of. Not only is this now my film of 2011 but it also enters my list of best films of all time chart, such the impression this left on me.
A totally unmissable masterpiece of family turmoil/thriller and horror! Seek it out now!
Read David Gillespie’s Cinema review of Kill List – rating:8.5/10