Kill List (2011)

When I first heard about this film there seemed to be a buzzing intensity that surrounded it, cocooned in mystery and allowing a rare notoriety to breed. Having watched it myself, I dug a little further to discover what “real” people felt about the film. What I found was boards packed with confusion and negativity; I can understand why. This is a film that can be riveting yet infuriating, tense yet haphazard, never really letting you know where you stand.

The film opens with a grim scene of domesticity. Jay (Neil Maskell) and Shel (MyAnna Buring) are trying to raise their young son Sam (Harry Simpson) whilst holding together their fractured relationship. The unemployed Jay seems detached and apathetic towards his home life which results in explosive arguments with his other half. When Jay’s long time friend Gal (Michael Smiley) comes to dinner with his new girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer) the couple struggle to keep up appearances until Gal offers Jay some work; this is where the film starts to turn from gritty drama in the vein of Nil by Mouth to something quite different.

The work, as it turns out, is as a hit man. They have a kill list that comprises of three names, easy money for the pair. The first two names, “the priest” and “the librarian” are killed mercilessly, but their victim’s strange behaviour and Jays new-found mentality as a scourge of evil, unsettles the pair and starts to put a strain on their friendship. When they meet the “client” to back out, they discover they are in too deep and must finish the job. As we enter the third act the film takes another shocking turn and we discover there is a lot more to the job than it first seemed. With his family on the line Jay must battle his own personal issues as he delves into the heart of darkness to finish what he started resulting in one of the most tense, shocking and dare I say confusing endings I have seen in a long time.

When the film ended I sat in silence for about ten minutes to digest what I had just seen. Thinking back to where the film started it almost felt like I had watched the ending to a completely different film. This is by no means a bad thing, but it is certainly something that I am unaccustomed to. This film is far left in the let-the-audience-figure-it-out-themselves school of thought and you really have to put all the pieces together yourself; not just for the ending but by picking pieces from the entire movie. I have a feeling the more times you watch this film the more you will get out of it but the initial confusion would be enough to ensure that many are completely scared off for good.

Technically,The film hits the spot in every sense of the word. The writing, directing and acting are all outstanding. The film has an underlying dread that keeps you alert at all times and a grittiness that makes it feel very genuine. On the other hand this not an easy viewing experience,  those who want a simple and defined slice and dice movie will almost certainly leave feeling cheated by the ending. I think that if you can get past that then this will be one of the most unique and interesting films you have seen in a long time.

Score: 555/666

Video  sourced from Youtube.

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