Kill List

If you prefer The Shining to Dawn of the Dead, chances are you prefer that pervading sense of unease that Kubrick brought to the Overview Hotel- certainly over zombies ripping each others’ guts out. It’s that Kubrickian spirit that is brought to Kill List but mixed in with the same gritty British drama that has made Danny Dyer such a popular international actor. Well, it certainly has flavours of that approach (not least in its casting) but it is so much better than the usually tripe getting dispensed for lower budgets that the comparison is somewhere between ‘unfair’ and ‘slanderous’.

The film follows best buds Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley as hit men taking on one last/incredibly dangerous and life changing job. That job is to take out a series of targets, introduced by chapter cards: The Priest, The Librarian, The MP and The Hunchback. What starts out as a by-the-numbers contract kill turns into something weirder and weirder and raises a lot of questions about the two men at the centre and the world that surrounds them. There is also a certain amount of head smashingly brutal violence, so if you prefer your intestines to be internal, you might want to look away.

But despite this uniquely creepy atmosphere the film feels more like an idea than a story and it is clear that the talented writer/director Ben Wheatley struggled to find a satisfying conclusion to the film. Without wishing to give away spoilers, the ending is very reminiscent of A Serbian Film, if less unredeemable. Some people will applaud the unanswered questions and it’s certainly a brave directorial choice but, for me, it was a bit like a two-fingered salute at the audience who are supposed to be investing in the journey.

It might not have the emotional pay-off it deserves but this is richly atmospheric filmmaking at its best. One to watch.

Title: Kill List
Director: Ben Wheatley
Cast: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring, Naked People
Certificate: 18 and some
Running Time: About 90 minutes I'd say


  1. Guillam says:

    I’ll have to take your word for this one because the trailer looks awful.