Movie Of The Week: Kill List (2011)

Ben Wheatley directs Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley and MyAnna Buring in this horror tinged British thriller where a pair of hitmen take on a contract that pulls them towards an otherworldly darkness.

Low budget, talky, abrasive, nasty… one of the finest movies of the 21st century. To list Kill List’s most obvious influences would be to give away the biggest revelation. But it’s fair to say even before the folk horror route starts to dominate the atmosphere, this is a very grim, very compelling work of genre. We are introduced to our protagonists in an extended Mike Leigh / Ken Loach style domestic setting. Falling outs have a recognisable reality, jokes land with a sitcom brevity within the slanging matches, domestic violence and reconciliations. Creepy characters start to steal focus. Jovial Michael Smiley’s slightly off-key dinner date is up to something cunning, the dead looking man who assigns them their hits feels like the devil himself. All pre-existing relationships seem strange and strained, all new interactions feel alien. Yet it all takes place in the mundane world of suburban back gardens, two star chain hotels and every car park in Yorkshire seemingly. Then the killings begin. Everything is off key aside from the extreme violence. Initially reluctant Jay (Maskell – excellent) seems to regain his mojo, leans into the deadly work a little too enthusiastically. And now they can’t get out. We see a pagan ritual at a slight remove through a sniper sight, get lost in a sewer system, chased by a swarm of nude true believers. A stand-out set piece that is claustrophobic and relentlessly fervid. The purposefully disorientating out-of-sync editing style of all this is exemplary, fascinating, really pulls you in. A riddle of image matches and hints that suggests some nightmarish bigger picture we never fully comprehend, even once it is far too late. The moment Kill List closes up shop, I want to watch it straight away again. Black hearted, perfect.


Perfect Double Bill: Down Terrace (2009)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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