Kill List (2011)
An emotional, violent, and moody thriller that purposely grinds forward no quicker than a slow crawl. “Kill List” is much like holding one’s hand over an open flame. As you wait in gruelling anticipation for the moment that the heat will become no longer bearable. It sneaks up and leaves a stinging scorch on your palm. And much like this fresh burn, “Kill List’s” reveal will linger long after and send unpleasant, reminding shocks into your brain. This sophomore effort from up-and-comeing director Ben Wheatley is one of the most potent and disturbing films you’ll witness at an art-house…definitely not for the squeamish or easily scarred. Relying just as much on the excruciating tension and defined characters as it does on bloodshed and brutality. “Kill List” is a taut, well crafted horror that goes beyond the usual tendencies of the genre to create a truly unique, terrifying experience.
Jay and Gal are former soldiers who have become hit-men since living the military. Jay suffers both mentally and physically from a mission in Kiev gone wrong. Soon, Jay and his family begin to run out of money due to his lack of employment. With the encouragement of Gal and his wife, Jay final gets back to business. Upon being hired by a shadowy character, Jay and Gal are ordered to kill three different men. After learning of the men’s criminal activity, Jay loses control and mercilessly tortures them. When a series of weird events start taking place, Jay and Gal are left fighting for their lives and everyone they care about.
Although “Kill List” delivers its violence and gore with uncanny detail and precision…enough to satisfy any and all genre enthusiasts. What separates this intentionally slow-burning crime-thriller from other low-budget horror flicks is its visceral characters, their motivations, and the way each is played out. Driven by a staggering blend of family drama and PTSD, “Kill List” is a surprisingly veritable gaze into human psychology. While it might not be the type of fear that keeps you up at night or causes you to check in the closet and under your bed before heading to sleep. The sheer terror, disbelief, and haunting imagery will resonate steadily and stronger than any cheap scare or monstrosity you or any film can concoct. Aside from the occasional break brought on by really dark humour, which is progressively becoming a Ben Wheatley trademark. “Kill List” is persistent and utterly unrelenting in its shocks, disheartening realizations, and vivid savagery.
Featuring brilliant, exhausting, nightmarish performances from Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, and the supporting cast. Along with impeccable work behind the camera from the aforementioned Ben Wheatley. “Kill List” is as courageous, frightening, and disembowelling structurally and characteristically as it is visually and intellectually. Smiley, in a supporting role, does a superb job forming a skeletally sound base for Maskell’s enraged evolution and has a startling indifference about him that shrouds and petrifies the viewer. As for Maskell, who completely immerses himself in self-destruction and complex moral conundrums truly spawns a protagonist ripe with villainy. All in all, “Kill List’s” remarkable cast matches Wheatley’s harsh visuals and dramatic, astounding tale stride for stride.
Disheartening, violent, and utterly mind-bending. Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” is a modern horror masterpiece.
Kill List: 8 out of 10.