Kill List Review
By Rich Cline
British filmmaker Wheatley follows up his terrific debut Down Terrace with another genre-bending film that continually catches us off guard. This time we're watching a freak-out horror movie wrapped in a thoughtful exploration of the tides of relationships. Among other freak-outs.
Jay and Shel (Maskell and Buring) have a mercurial marriage, with full-tilt arguments followed by moments of tender closeness. Perhaps this has to do with their military backgrounds, but their young son Sam (Simpson) doesn't really understand. And neither does Jay's army pal Gal (Smiley), who visits for a tense dinner party with his girlfriend Fiona (Fryer). Then Jay and Gal embark on a business trip as a hitman duo, and as they progress through their kill list, they begin to fall into the clutches of what looks like a sinister pagan cult.
Wheatley directs and writes (with Jump) in such a way that we can see clues continually dropped into our path, drawing us along and into the story. The mystery is compelling and intriguing, even as it becomes increasingly horrific and hideously violent. We are genuinely intrigued by where this story is going, because each turn of the tale is deeply unsettling.
And the real reason that we're so involved, of course, is the depth of the characters, and the script constantly reveals new things about them. These are dark, insinuating people who have extremely complicated interaction as friends, spouses and lovers. Nothing that happens between them is remotely predictable, and the scenes are packed with both intense emotions and hilarious black comedy that's played in raw, naturalistic ways by the whole cast.
Some viewers might be annoyed by the vague ellipses in the plot, which seems to leave so many questions unanswered. Why does Jay have such a hot temper that he can't resist killing people in the most sudden, violent way? Why do most of his victims say "thank you"? And how did we end up at that outrageous ending? Clear answers to these questions are all here, but Wheatley leaves them sprinkled around for us to find. Not many filmmakers credit their audiences with this much intelligence, so when one does it's pretty exhilarating.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Friday 2nd September 2011
Distributed by: IFC Films
Production compaines: Warp X, Rook Films
Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 76%
Fresh: 63 Rotten: 20
Cast & Crew
Producer: Claire Jones, Andrew Starke
Starring: Neil Maskell as Jay, MyAnna Buring as Shel, Harry Simpson as Sam, Michael Smiley as Gal, Emma Fryer as Fiona, Struan Rodger as The Client, Esme Folley as Hotel Receptionist, Ben Crompton as Justin, Gemma Lise Thornton as Keira, Robin Hill as Stuart, Zoe Thomas as Hotel Waitress, Gareth Tunley as The Priest, Jamelle Ola as Hotel Receptionist 2, Mark Kempner as The Librarian, Damien Thomas as The Doctor