Review: Kill List

MFR Rating: ★ ★

“It’s the kind of film you should go into without knowing too much”

This seemed to be the general consensus from both critics and the film’s director. And in terms of plot, this was pretty much all I was aware of going into Kill List. But why can’t I know anything? Well, either because it’s so shocking and twisting that you need to be left on the edge of your seat not knowing exactly what you’re watching, or because no one’s really got a bloody clue what it’s all about. Unfortunately, Kill List falls into the latter. Like a child playing with paint, it’s colourful and energetic and you know they tried hard, but really it’s just a bit of nonsense.

This would be the part of the review where I give you a brief outline of the plot, but I’m not supposed to do that. But at least I’ll be honest, because whatever it was about just meant nothing to me. Desperately I searched for a sub text, some sort of psychological dimension that you might need to interpret but it still it didn’t make sense. What I will tell you is it starts in the naturalistic setting of a dinner party with some quick snappy dialogue and takes a while before it starts moving into the surreal and bizarre.

Starring Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring and Michael Smiley, all three actors had their roles written for them and do a good job with their characters, but are let down by a wreck of a plot. The dialogue is a bit Pulp Fiction, a bit In Bruges (without being as sharp or funny as either) and it ends up a bit The Wicker Man. Director Ben Wheatley said before the screening that it was inspired by his nightmares. Like a nightmare, there are lots of occurrences thrown together but they don’t seem very coherent. A genre film, this is not. A real mish mash of horror, drama, thriller and perhaps something psychological. Genre twisting certainly isn’t a bad idea, but when there’s nothing tying the threads together it feels incredibly frustrating.

Maybe a second or third viewing will help a viewer ‘get it’, but really if it can’t stand up to a first viewing what motivation is there to revisit the film? Maybe you can make sense of it and care to elaborate in the replies. I dare you.

Kill List is out on 2nd September in the UK. Running time: 95 mins. Certificate 18 (UK).

Review by David Rank


One thought on “Review: Kill List

  1. Interesting read David. I think the film does leave itself open to interpretation which merits multiple viewing. I really enjoyed it myself – I liked the references to director Wheatley’s Hammer Horror influences as well as the kitchen sink realism that reminds of more recent Brit horror films Dead Man’s Shoes and Eden Lake. The ending does frustrate but I think in a good way as it makes me want to watch it again and perhaps piece it together differently. I would say it is raw, intense, and engaging throughout.

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