This 2011 low-budget British flick is one of those movies you simply don’t know what to make of . . .
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, James Nickerson, David Bowen
Directed by: Ben Wheatley
Kill List is one of those movies that the less you know about it in advance, the better so as not to spoil any twists and surprises. So it’s probably best that you skip right over the next few paragraphs detailing the plot (don’t worry though: we didn’t give too much away) or check out the trailer below.
So here’s what little we can give away about the plot: Kill List kicks off as a domestic drama as we watch a married couple argue incessantly about money. The husband named Gal (Michael Smiley) has been unemployed for several months and the strains are beginning to show on his marriage to an attractive Swedish blonde named Shel (MyAnna Buring).
How did an average guy like Gal manage to get hitched to a bombshell like Shel? That is just one of the movie’s many mysteries left unexplained. Kill List has a very naturalistic feel about it. Much of the dialogue was in fact improvised by the actors. It shows. Kill List feels very real. Slowly however we begin to realize that Gal isn’t your average unemployed Joe trying to make a living in these tough economic times.
No, Jay is in fact a hitman and after some unexplained cock-up in Kiev hasn’t been “working” for the past few months. What happened in Kiev? We never get to know so don’t hold your breath. Jay’s best buddy Jay (Neil Maskell) who mumbles a lot – much of the dialogue is unintelligible and the Brit accents doesn’t help either – is also Gal’s partner in crime. Gal knows of an easy job involving a few kills.
However as they go around killing the people on their “kill list” Gal slowly begins to realize that something is afoot . . . but what exactly?
Kill List starts as a kitchen sink drama, then morphs into a gritty crime thriller before turning into a horror flick with occult overtones in time for the last third or so of its running time.
The acting is naturalistic although with all the mumbling one sometimes wishes that the movie had some subtitles. The low-budget production values (cinematography, etc.). are also good and feels utterly banally realistic. The OTT music soundtrack is reminiscent of There Will Be Blood. It has an “arty” feel about it (we mean it in a good way though) and one despite its faults – one wishes for those subtitles until you realize that most of the dialogue is inconsequential to the plot – you keep on watching for the simple reason that you want some answers and want to see how it all turns out.
The last twenty minutes or so will strike most viewers as a case of jumping the shark. Like life itself, nothing is explained at the end and most audience members will walk out of the cinema going “what the hell was all that about then?”
One of those movies that will leave you undecided. The last third of the movie is unexpected, sure, but also a case of “what the-?” and doesn’t necessarily work as well as the film-makers had probably hoped. Kill List is however a one-of-a-kind experience and if you’re tired of cookie Hollywood horror flicks it just might be your bag. (Note: beware some graphic violence.)