When it comes to reviewing certain acclaimed director’s follow up film’s it’s actually, its probably a good idea to have watched the film that got the director the status, a chance to possibly understand their mindset. I haven’t seen Down Terrace but Ben Wheatley’s KILL LIST I have seen a film that left me in a maze of confusion and disappointment.
Jay(Neill Maskell)is finding life hard to adjust to after time in the army, depression starts to set in he can’t get a job and his wife (Myanna Buring) is desperate for Jay to work again as she’s basically spent all his money like it was going out of fashion.At a dinner party from hell Jay’s best friend Gal (Michael Smiley) offers Jay that chance to leave the hard times behind by getting back onto the game by becoming a contract killer on a few paid killings. The pair proceeds with the 3 hits which see them descend deeper into a dark disturbing abyss which sends Jay into a frenzied state of paranoia.squad.
Since the film’s premiere back in March at SXSW Festival, Kill List has received nothing but high praise, positive reviews and following the film through press I learned a valuable lesson. What I learned was to never always jump on board the bandwagon and believe the hype as you go into a film with a high expectancy as that could always spell severe disappointment. Don’t get me wrong there is film’s that do live up to the expectations, unfortunately, Kill List doesn’t.
What the film does do well is highlight the social commentary which is relevant to today’s life tribulations (Soldiers returning from wars, integration with society, government cuts, etc…), we don’t need everything explained but frustratingly many things are left unanswered. The film was so intense, with the scene leaving you with an unsettling feeling of claustrophobia which quickly turned to frustrated anger. What I really want to know, what really happened in Kiev?!!!During the film, we here constantly references about a job in the Ukrainian capital but we sail through the film not actually finding out nothing, not even a hint, clue or even a flashback to give us a slightly better understanding.
Other positive notes about Kill List is the film does posses a decent sense of humour especially from Gal who let’s out to Jay about his morning after Dear John letter taped to his privates! I have to give the funnier part to Jay when he confronts and scares the living daylights out of a group of religious ‘God Loves You!’ ala Coom Bye-Ya squad. Kill List is a slow burner which really doesn’t start to kick off until around the half way point when our ex-squaddies come hitmen do the tour of the Premier Inns of the UK fulfilling their contracts.This is when the violence starts and we’re presented with one graphic scene with ‘The Librarian’ who gets a brutal beating from Jay who makes mince meat out of his head with a hammer but what really makes you pull your hair out like the other hits they all say “thank you” before they meet their bloody fates, why ‘thank you’?! Guess what no explanation!
The Kill List potentially had the makings of a fantastic dark film which pays homage allegedly to 1970’s British Horror films (Wicker Man is the only one I can see), plenty of Social commentary, drama, violence, dark humor which is let down by the endless number of unanswered questions. I read this film was one of those flicks you should watch a few times to fully understand the story, which at the time of writing this review I had already watched the film 4 times not including the cinema viewing and still I was left as baffled as the first time I watched it. The critics, even cinephiles that have seen this have been lining up to praise this but what version of the film are they watching? Not the same one I watched so I would love to sit with one of them watch the film again and they can explain it all. I adore film and appreciate the diversity of the artform we all love there is certainly something to please every taste and every one is entitled to enjoy a film and I respect that. But sadly I am in the probably the minority who didn’t enjoy the film and I don’t see the respect of my opinion as well as those like myself who didn’t like Kill List been returned.
★★1/2| Paul Devine
Crime, Horror | UK, 2011 | 18 | 26th December 2011 (UK) | Studiocanal |Dir: Ben Wheatley | Neil Maskell, Myanna Burring, Michael Smiley