Jun 13, 2014

Review: Kill List (2011)

Watching Kill List is going to leave you with more questions than answers. It's bizarre, bloody and there's lots that doesn't seem to make sense. It is however an awesome movie and it's absolutely worth watching til the end. It's a totally different breed of horror film with an agenda to make you as unsettled as possible.

I've never heard of director Ben Wheatley but he seems to have a good idea of what makes a movie scary. I suppose that Kill List isn't scary per se when you're actually watching it. It's scary in the sense that you're going to remember it. The idea of it is scary and it's probably going to stay with me long after its welcome is worn out. I'm going to be very careful about not giving any spoilers because it'll ruin the experience for anyone who is planning on seeing this film.


Genre: crime, horror, thriller
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Produced by: Claire Jones, Andrew Starke, Katherine Butler, etc.
Written by: Amy Jump, Ben Wheatley
Music by: Jim Williams
Running time: 95 minutes
Production company: Warp X, Rook Films
Distributed by: IFC Films, Optimum Releasing, Madman Entertainment, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $800,000
Box office: $171,760 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring, Harry Simpson, Michael Smiley, Emma Fryer, Struan Rodger, Esme Folley, Ben Crompton, Gemma Lise Thornton, Robin Hill, Zoe Thomas, Gareth Tunley, Jamelle Ola, Mark Kempner, Damien Thomas, Lora Evans, Robert Hill, Rebecca Holmes




Jay (Neil Maskell) is an ex-soldier coming off what was a disastrous mission in Kiev, Ukraine. Mentally he just isn't the same which worries and angers his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring). Things are tight at home though and both parents have to keep their son in mind. Shel talks Jay into getting an assassin job with one of his friends. Jay and Gal (Michael Smiley) set out to complete three marks that lead to stranger and stranger happenings.


Kill List isn't about ghosts or spirits or anything like that. Giving away that aspect of the story would ruin it and I'm too nice for that. See it for yourself and buckle up for what is a great slow burner. Ben Wheatley crafts an atmosphere that comes in shades of Stanley Kubrick. Everything seems to hide an ugly secret and the unsettling score just makes things worse. Even the editing has a similar effect. There are loads of jump cuts that skip things that would seem important. Wheatley is just keeping the viewer guessing and unable to get comfortable.

The make up and effects are very well done. The budget of this movie is $800,000 but it doesn't look it. With the quality of gore and guts that you see, you'd think this were a real Hollywood effort. It's important to note that Kill List isn't just a mindless gorefest though. The violence is realistic and it's justified too.

Kill List doesn't use the typical horror formula you'd expect. There aren't any cheap tactics like jump scares and really, it isn't a horror movie until the last quarter of the film. I'd call it just a creepy psychological thriller for the other three quarters. That's not to say that Kill List isn't scary though, it is! I'd describe the ending as being in a deep, pitch-black chasm without a hint of light anywhere. It's not a place you want to be.

If you like horror movies and you want to try something different, Kill List is the perfect answer. It's not a movie for everyone though. If you like your movies clean and tied up with a bow, this isn't what you're looking for. What Ben Wheatley has been able to piece together is amazing and I'm kind of dreading having to have Kill List in the back of my mind for the next few days while I'm trying to sleep.



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