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John’s Horror Corner: Kill List

June 5, 2013

Kill List movie poster

Hello all. Mark here.

I am a big fan of original horror, new voices and twist endings that work.  Kill List director Ben Wheatley is quickly becoming an important voice in the genre. I recently watched his wonderful/crazy/bonkers film and wanted to add it to the Horror Corner canon. Also, check out my posts about Tank Top Horror, Day Time Horror and Horror Czars.

Kill List is equal parts domestic drama, British hit man violence and absolute insanity. It moves at a deliberate and dread filled pace that guides us toward a final act that punches you in the face and forces you to Google the ending so you can figure out what you just watched. You may not enjoy it when watching but I guarantee you will look back at the face crushing and bonkers plot twist with fondness. It reminded me of the Korean film I Saw the Devil. Devil dived headlong into a violent world of cat and mouse that I did not enjoy watching. However, upon further reflection with a non-traumatized brain I realized it was an expertly directed genre piece.

I knew nothing about Kill List other than the Netflix synopsis and that director Ben Wheatley recently made a big splash with the film Sightseers. The tiny drama earned massive raves and put Wheatley on my radar. Empire magazine raved about his movies and he he sounded like an affable fellow on their podcast. I knew Kill List was going to hurt but I am always curious when directors make big splashes in the horror genre/crime genre. Wheatley manages to find humor and realism in the absurdity of murder and domestic squabbles. He understands dark humor and uses it to sickening effect.  When a horror director is at the top of his game I have absolute faith that the original story and following darkness will be more than the standard stab and awe.

The film centers on two hitmen who get entangled in a web of murder, femme fatales and the occult. The actors Neil Maskall and Michael Smiley have a real chemistry together and add a believable dose of menace to the in over their heads hitmen. They are joined by MyAnna Buring (The Descent, Doomsday) who play’s Neil’s retired Swedish military wife. MyAnna handles herself well and is equally as tough as her male counterparts. Together, they find dead rabbits, occult imagery and lots of weird.

Kill List is not easy and doesn’t hand anything on a plate (other than rabbit). The ending is purposefully vague and allowed the viewer to revolt or ponder what just unfolded in front of their eyes. Kill List is an insular film full of surprises, realism and straw masks. It is bleak, unforgiving and confidently done. I can’t wait to watch Sightseers and see what else Wheatley dreams up.

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