Thursday, October 17, 2013

Kill List

Directed by Ben Wheatley.
2011. Rated R, 92 minutes.
Neil Maskell
Michael Smiley
MyAnna Buring
Emma Fryer
Ben Crompton
Struan Rodger

Jay (Maskell) hasn't worked in quite a while and doesn't really want to. Like most guys in that situation, he argues with his wife, Shel (Buring), a lot. Indeed, much of the first act consists of the two of them screaming at one another. Finally, at Shel’s urging, Jay decides to return to work with his best friend Gal (Smiley). It turns out they are hit-men. Gal is the laid-back type, but it is obvious that whatever happened in Kiev has shaken Jay to his core. He’s becoming more and more of a loose cannon likely to kill more than just the person they've been assigned to. Eventually, The Wicker Man breaks out.

That last sentence may seem a bit cryptic, but once you see it you’ll understand, provided you've seen The Wicker Man. Then again, the entire movie is cryptic. If I tried to clarify any of this gibberish I wouldn't be able to keep myself from getting into some serious spoilers. I will say it’s a curious experience with an ending that may baffle you.

Adding to the feeling of bewilderment we may get, the movie slowly morphs into what it wants to be. What starts as a drama about a disintegrating marriage becomes a movie about hit-men and eventually reveals itself to actually be a horror flick. Each of the three acts has the tone of whatever genre it is mimicking at the time. Be aware that when we get to the horror section, the movie isn't so much trying to scare us as it is trying to make us uncomfortable, and finally shock us.

All of this isn't to say Kill List is a bad movie. On the contrary it’s actually an intriguing watch because we desperately want to figure it out. It does a pretty good job drawing us in. We’re concerned for Jay’s deteriorating condition. We’re concerned for the safety of his wife and son as his erratic behavior has put them in jeopardy. We wonder what Gal’s girlfriend has to do with all this. However, the final scene is the fulcrum on which our final decision rests. If you get it, you’re likely to think it’s brilliant. If it just makes you say “huh,” it might totally piss you off.

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