Jay (Neil Maskell) is struggling, it’s been 8 months since he deposited £40,000 into the Bank account he shares with his wife, and they’ve been spending it like there's an endless supply of cash. Wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) wants more cash though, and puts pressure on Jay to get back to work, it takes a lot of fights to persuade him back to work, and when best friend Gal (Michael Smiley) tells Jay of the money he has been earning, its that last final incentive to go back, Jay and Gal’s work however is not the normal 9-5 type job, they are hired killers. And while they get the job done, its blatantly obvious that one of them gets more of a kick from killing than the other.
On the run up to the premier of Kill List at this years Film Four Frightfest, I was having difficulty trying to figure out what the film was doing at a horror movie festival, while it’s subject matter was of course interesting, its simply not something that seems to fall into the horror genre. Of course watching the movie you realise that the horror genre is exactly where this movie should be, and Kill List is the darkest British horror movie since Eden Lake, of course in order to keep the secret, I can’t tell you what puts the film in that category.
Kill List is a match of two halves, two very different contrasting sides, that blur very suddenly and unexpectedly. The signs that point you in the darker territory are there pretty much from the offset, a strange sign written on a mirror, a freakish waving encounter in the middle of the night, and the strange way one of the two killers is met by the victims.
In an after movie Q & A session, with the cast of Kill List, we discovered that the dialogue was largely improvised, a story was in place but a lot of what happened occurred as a result of the casts input. Doing this, makes the film feel very natural, and in reflection the journey you take, from start to finish, is a massive divide, that only really works because of the very real feel the performers give to the role. What really works incredibly well (although it shouldn't) is the way that Jay, Shel and Gal all talk about their killing job as if they are decorators, it seems like there is nothing more natural in the world than killing people.
Kill List is by far one of the darkest hours in film history, as it pushes towards the climax you really don’t appreciate exactly how dark it's going to get. The level of violence is pretty much unprecedented in British film history, I cant think of a more aggressive series of scenes in any UK made film, suggestion is always there, but here its not just suggested it’s shown, and its shown in the most brutal of ways.
Director Ben Wheatley points out that some of the more disturbing scenes were from nightmares he had been on the receiving end of, and if this is true, then this guy has some really appalling dreams. Kill List is a truly shocking movie, but a shocking movie that cleverly allows for repeat viewing, and a variety of different conclusions for the viewer to draw on each experience. Wheatley cleverly hints at things, but never really gives us any straight answer, and in years to come this will be exactly what makes Kill List one of the most memorable movies in British shock cinema.
You can purchase the DVDs of Kill List and Down Terrace by clicking the links below to go through to Amazon. Ben Wheatley's latest film is in UK cinemas next month, you can read my review of Sightseers here!