Thursday, 1 September 2011

Review - Kill List (2011 - Dir. Ben Wheatley)

Beware the trailer for Kill List. When I saw it, I wasn't that impressed. In fact, I thought it looked like every other dull gritty cockney film incorporating guns. Suffice to say, I went anyway to have a peek, seeing as though it was filmed in Sheffield.

I'm glad I did. It was way better than expected. It was funny, relatively gory and strangely disquieting. Neil Maskell plays Jay, who is an out of work soldier. Due to this extended period of unemployment, his relationship with his wife is suffering. When Gal (a charismatic Michael Smiley) approaches him with the offer of taking on a job involving assassinating naughty people, he decides to give it a whirl. Why wouldn't you?

You know from early on that something sinister is afoot. The director's use of familiar locations, both urban and rural, strange character behaviour and ominous bass tones in the score all lend the film a feeling that something really bad is going to happen. Flashy editing techniques that draw attention to the filmmakers are not normally my cup of tea, but the director's use of jump cuts adds to the sense of unease. The whole film gave me the same feeling of dread as several David Lynch films, Mulholland Drive in particular.

There is one scene that people will talk about for some time. I won't spoil it, but it involves a DIY type incident. You know that something violent is going to happen and you are waiting for the camera to cut to a special effects shot. It doesn't. Graphic and brutal. Mmm. It would be interesting to watch again to see how it was done. In a similar vein to Antichrist's middles abuseyou're not sure how far they're going to take the violence in the rest of the film. Sadly, nothing gets close to topping this scene. A bit more savageness in a knife attack later on might have done the trick.

For all that Kill List is unsettling, I didn't find myself feeling scared. An effective chase sequence through a forest makes you think a change of y-fronts is just around the corner, but the tunnel sequence that follows is basically a corridor shooter (the game Doom is a prime example) in film form. Someone runs at them. They shoot them. And so on. There is no tension, just confusion as to where the next attack will come from. A shame.

I feel like I've been a tad picky there, as I really enjoyed it. Properly funny - the guitar scene is a highlight - and at times disturbing. Comparisons to other films will be made, in particular two films that played as a double bill when released, and it deserves to be in such fine company. One of the best British films I've seen in ages. Just ignore the trailer. It doesn't spoil any of the film's delights and hopefully I haven't.

If you like this you could also try:
Antichrist, Mulholland Drive, Wild at Heart, The Wicker Man, Don't Look Now.

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