Kill List

Posted: February 18, 2012 in Film reviews

Directed by Ben Wheatley, starring Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley.

I’d been looking forward to this film, I’d heard a lot of good things about it, and according to one noted horror critic it was the scariest film he’d ever seen.

Firstly I’d point out that it does bear great similarity to a particular classic film from a few decades ago—I won’t point out which film it is so you’re not spoiled. Unfortunately one review I’d seen revealed this, which is a shame because it means I couldn’t enjoy this film on its own merits. All I will say is that it’s about two hit men hired to kill a list of people, who find that their mission is far from what it appears.

The film does have merits. Clearly a low budget effort it makes excellent use of its locations (South Yorkshire) and cast, and it’s well made and almost refreshingly brutal. Unfortunately the style puts me off a lot. Filming in a realist style was no doubt intended to add a gritty, raw edge to the film, and maximise the unsettling feel that tries to permeate the film. I say tries because I wasn’t feeling it.

And the other downside of realism is that it means a lot of mundane scenes and semi-improvised dialogue, making large swathes of the film, well dull, especially the opening 20 minutes or so which bear more relation to a kitchen sink drama. This isn’t to say that I’m only interested in action, in fact some of the more mundane interplay between the two hired killers as they check into various travel lodge style establishments as they go about their business is really quite engaging.

The style also ensures that the film ends with a lot of unanswered questions. I don’t mind this generally as it’s fairly straightforward to work out what’s going on, but it would have been nice to have a somewhat clearer idea of what the agenda was behind their mission.

Interesting film, but much overhyped in my opinion. 6/10

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