Review: Kill List

The story…

A hard up family man/hitman, along with his partner, take on a ‘kill list’ that promises to pay well. Along the way the kills beget more kills and it become evident that there is more going on behind the list than meets the eye.

 

The review…

Sometimes Britain will produce an effecting and groundbreaking horror or psychological thriller that garners both critical kudos and a dedicated fan following. They’re few and far between, but it happens. Kill List is certainly getting quite the critical response at the moment, and is indeed being hailed as an unsettling and thought provoking experience.

Don’t believe the hype.

It starts out well enough, as an unconventional, suburban hitman tale, with undertones of weirdness that add an element of intrigue, but as the oddities build to a crescendo that will only be satisfying with a quick, daring explanation of the events, Kill List refuses to deliver and instead opts for lazy climax that’s only result can be perplexity or outright frustration.

I suppose that many will enjoy sitting around at a dinner party, debating the very meaning of the film, but I personally find empty/faux/vague intellectualising insulting; the presumption that we’re not ‘getting’ the strangeness’ at play, that we are somehow intellectually less than those ‘in the know’ for not unquestioningly absorbing its hinted at deepness is irksome. Don’t be fooled, by this film or films of its ilk, there is nothing more going on in Kill List other than what is presented on screen, and it is nowhere near as smart as it wants you to believe it is.

It’s not a total car wreck, its bog standard shooting style grounds it well, there are sparse moments of truly wince inducing violence and as mentioned there is a constant stream of intrigue that’ll hold your interest, but this is totally dashed by the vague, yet, to my mind, boringly predictable, pretentious climax.

Sometimes an ambiguous ending can work incredibly well to a films credit, but sometimes it’s just a fallback for lazy writers that want to come off as intelligent, and I find it infuriating that people who are paid to know about films cannot tell the difference. I genuinely believe that many critics are so scared to be seen as missing something when faced with a ‘weird’ film, that they automatically sing the praises of its wild abandon, therefore not being seen as unintelligent, as has been the case with the last decades worth of David Lynch and Lars von Trier films; but if you’re really honest with yourself, are David Lynch films so well written/shot/acted that they deserve a five star rating? Kill List certainly isn’t.

It’s quite obvious that writer/director Ben Wheatley is a huge fan Lynch, von Trier and The Wicker Man, embarrassingly obvious in fact, and it is also clear that these inspirations are what Kill List aspire to, and in the former two cases it may succeed, but The Wicker Man has a cohesive and logical ending where Kill List doesn’t really ‘end’ at all, and can only really be recommended to fans of pseudo intectectuallism or crushing disappointment.

 

Conclusion…

D grade – for originality

D- grade – for storytelling

D grade – for direction

C grade – for atmosphere

 

Overall grade – D

 

Release info…

Kill List is currently on release in the UK but isn’t yet scheduled for international release.

 

Watch the trailer…

Richard
A UK based Contributor; Richard Reynolds splits his time writing articles and interviews for Fanboy Confidential with running his own comicbook shop, Ground Zero Comics, as well as sticking his thumb in far too many pies, including illustration, writing and filmmaking, he also consumes fiction in all its forms like its going out of fashion.

6 Comments

  • September 9, 2011

    Justin Barker

    Based upon your opinion of this movie I for one certainly shall not be paying to watch this movie, reason? Normally movie reviews are either gushing praises of a movie due to the star status of the cast or director or bitter, spiteful condemnations based upon the reviewers personal opinion, sometimes said reviewer will just be plain wrong, due to his/her not understanding the gist of the movie. Here, with this review, which isn’t scathing, just disappointing, the opinion of Richard highlights the pseudo-intellectualism of the movie, which, in my opinion, there should be NO room for intellectualism, pseudo or otherwise in movies, a film is meant to be entertaining on many varied levels and present the audience with an interesting, sometimes plausible story, and as everyone knows, or should, all the best stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, to sit through a movie that is just an arrogant exercise in intellectual superiority that results in no payoff at the end is an insult to every person that pays to watch any movie. I’m intrigued enough by this review to at least watch Kill List, but I certainly won’t be paying cold hard cash to watch it.

  • October 20, 2011

    Rob

    I went to watch Kill List last night and came out of it feeling frustrated and annoyed with the ending. I think this review is spot on, the writers back out of writing a cohesive ending and go for lazy ambiguity instead. The link with Wicker Man is clear but as stated, Wicker Man ends and ties up the whole meaning of the film in the ending. This film suggests different things – is he evil incarnated, has he had some sort of memory block etc – but ultimately leaves you hanging. Maybe other people will respond differently and enjoy debating the meaning I just felt a bit cheated. I felt last night that maybe I was missing something but I’m reassured by the fact that the reviewer had a similar experience.

  • November 15, 2011

    Richard Adam Reynolds

    Hey Rob. As of the writing of this article I have still yet to read another written review of Kill List that’s willing to admit that in actual fact isn’t a work of genius, though happily, having recently attending the Mayhem Horror Film Festival, I have talked with a lot of people whom share our view. Let the revolution begin:)

  • December 28, 2011

    guest

    This movie is similar to Serbian movie,,,it is a bad copy of Serbian movie actually..

  • January 1, 2012

    Simon

    D grade? Really? Hard not to think that you are just not pissed for not getting the movie. That’s fine, some movies are meant to be like that. For mine I thought it had some weak bits at the end and could have built the tension up over the hits a bit more, but overall worth the effort. Don’t watch if you are squeamish. Similar vein to Eden Lake – the Brits are good at making you feel sick.

  • January 8, 2012

    Simonre

    I don’t watch films for a living, or really rate or remember them, I watch films when I’m to tired to do anything else, thus more often than not I’m left dissapointed due to not being in the right frame of mind. This film was certainly gripping and intense, The peak and dips were nicely timed with a thought provoking end. Thought provoking ‘yes’, It’s caused me to search the web for answers..as did Donnie Darko. Books work on the readers imagination and so did this. The more views I read, the more I want to watch it again from their perspective. If you watch a film, you come to your own conclusion that suits you, read these posts and and you find more possibilities ..thats art right? Why does it have to tie up? in fact there’s many ways it can be pieced together. A couple more watches and i’ll manage it. Do we have to accuse the writer of being intelligent or lazy? The mix of genres confuses the viewer, it’s not your typical format so doesn’t sit right..again that’s art right? Kill List has done a great job of providing great visual stimulas and thought provoking undertones. Lazy? Sometimes less more… It’s interesting how our minds decypher things differently? The film exploits that. Love it or hate it, people are talking and creating a buzz about it. I loved it, but not as much as the writers do reading these posts and our interpretations. I believe I read on a previous post Ben didn’t dismiss the idea of it being a dream when questioned..It’s set up for interpretation. that’s of course way off. It’s frustraiting but I loved it. It’s like fine dining, left wanting more, to the point of watching the credits and extras! If Ben wouldn’t mind sharing his angle..Watch it. justin, I’ll lend you the cold hard cash!!