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.
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.
D grade – for originality
D- grade – for storytelling
D grade – for direction
C grade – for atmosphere
Overall grade – D
Kill List is currently on release in the UK but isn’t yet scheduled for international release.
Watch the trailer…