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Kill List

Kill List: Brutally Sadistic Horror Film

  • Michael SmileyMyAnna Buring...
  • HorrorMystery & Suspense
  • Out now
  • Ben Wheatley
reviewed by
Yasmin Shehab
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Kill List: Brutally Sadistic Horror Film

Kill List is like three films in
one. It starts as a drama about a married couple’s less-than-perfect life, which
then morphs into a story about hit men, and ends as a film about a cult. As you
might expect, the latter two are a blood bath, although the first isn’t without
its share of violence.

Jay (Maskell) and Shel (Buring) have financial problems. Jay’s been out
of work for eight months and now they don’t have enough money to fix their Jacuzzi.
Shel, who is apocalyptic over this development, yells at Jay to get another job,
so he finally capitulates and goes back to work with his best friend and
partner-in-crime Gal (Smiley). Their mission is to kill three men, but what
starts off as a simple, lucrative assignment soon takes on a life of its own
when Jay deviates from the plan and starts to dole out brutal death sentences
to whomever he deems unworthy.  

Kill List attempts to comment on how power corrupts and how playing God by being a moral
guardian can make you justify horrendous acts. For this reviewer, though, juggling
both the violence and the message proved impossible. This isn’t one of those films
where the rapid editing obscures the fights. The violence here looks painfully
real, which drags you right out of your comfort zone and stomps all over your
psyche to the point where it obscures pretty much everything. And while films
like Final Destination and The Hills Have Eyes may beat Kill List in terms of inventiveness
in modes of killing, Kill List wins,
hands down, in sheer brutality. Those other films are cartoons in comparison.  

Aside from the violence, Kill List
is perfectly paced. It lulls you into a false sense of complacency with only
the odd eerie element. These weird moments start to build and you find yourself
holding your breath knowing that something is about to happen. The score, which
is amazingly creepy by the way, hits a crescendo when Jay and Gal kill their first
target. From then on, it’s a torrent of blood, guts and deranged madness that
just doesn’t let up. Often it takes a completely unexpected twist,
effortlessly hopping genres and completely destroying your concepts of what may

Kill List will scar you
emotionally. Do yourselves a favour and don’t watch this before bed. 

Like This? Try

The Wicker Man, The Shining, Shutter Island

360 Tip

Kill List was nominated for six British Independent Film Awards and ended up winning a best supporting actor award for Michael Smiley.

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