Year: 2011
Director: Ben Wheatley
Writers: Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump
Region of Origin: UK
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Rating: Unrated
35mm?, Color, 95 mins

Synopsis: Eight months after a disastrous job in Kiev left him physically and mentally scarred, ex-soldier turned contract killer, Jay, is pressured by his partner, Gal, and wife Shel, into taking a new assignment. (Source)

Kill List is the type of movie that you should see without knowing too much. I know that sounds sort of generic, but it’s especially true in this case. Ben Wheatley’s dark genre treat gleefully turns every expectation you might have on it’s head, all while evolving into something else every time you think you’ve got it figured out; it defies true classification and expectation. To paint an extremely broad picture, it starts out as an intense familial drama, then shifts to a dark buddy drama about two ailing hitmen, all while being wrapped up into something more sinister altogether. None of those elements betray one another, instead with their collaborative effects culminating into one of the most terrifying and replusive endings I’ve seen in a long time (probably since Oldboy — yeah, that crazy).

Our story begins mid-argument, between an angry husband and wife duo Jay (Neil Maskell) and Shel (Myanna Buring). Jay’s been out of work for a while now due to a prior mishap, and the bills are piling up. Once you add their kid to the equation, you can imagine the weight on both their backs. While it’s completely jarring to be dropped into such a traumatic introduction, things immediately shift to show genuine familial relations between the three, making you really want to root for the family, despite their often strained relationship. After another explosive argument at a dinner party in front of Jay’s friend Gal (Michael Smiley) and his date Fiona (Emma Fryer), Gal offers Jay the chance to do another job with him to help out. It’s then that you find out the two are now contract killers, and after their “hits” begin, the movie shifts and breaks off into all kinds of directions; I’m not spoiling what happens next either. I can say however that it’s not for the faint of heart, as it does get extremely violent and scary on a number of levels; the men will eventually come in contact with true evil (that’s not an exaggeration, you’ll understand when you see it).

Even though the entire movie is engaging due to it’s insane technical/stylistic unpredictability, unexpected dark humor, and fast pace, what really shines is it’s cast and attention to character and relationships. It may not give you all the answers, but it’s insanity (especially the ending) carries a weight because of your emotional investment to the leads. Not only are Maskell and Buring empathetic husband and wife characters in their own quirky kind of way, but the movie’s core relationship between best friend hitmen Jay and Gal feels real and genuine. The exchanges between the two can be completely hilarious and endearing one minute to serious and tense the next. It should be noted that all three are credited with additional dialogue, explaining the movie’s totally organic and natural quality; I can’t stress enough how amazing these performances are.

Kill List is for anyone who likes their movies to keep them guessing. It’s got nice character drama, mystery, horror (I got a mean Wicker Man vibe, NOT the Nic Cage one), and plenty of shocks yet I don’t want me saying that to put the movie in the box; trust me, it’s like nothing you’ve seen before. Ben Wheatley’s fashioned an extremely twisted and grisly genre-bender, culling characteristics from every dark genre into one organic and cohesive movie that will leave you jolted long after you’ve seen it. Just see it, if you dare. BTW: You should regularly check behind your furniture to make sure this freakin symbol is nowhere to be found.

Crome Rating: 4.5/5

SG