20 02 2012

Kill List

British director Ben Wheatley (whose only other credits include a 2009 crime thriller called Down Terrace and some TV/internet ads) has made one of 2011’s true surprises with Kill List, a film that inevitably could be described a number of different ways and yet none of them would do it justice. This is an unnerving, taut, and unpredictable movie that drifts in and out of several genres at will; from mumblecore domestic drama, to existential hit man thriller, and then finally devolving into something even more unexpected and shocking. The film starts out almost as a drama about the economic crisis, with out of work Jay (Neil Maskell), being called upon by his old partner Gal (Michael Smiley) to partake in “one last job”. Of course, Jay is much too busy arguing with his hot-tempered wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) to give his friend’s proposals much consideration. Wheatley’s movie unfolds methodically, giving the audience a feel for the characters before entering into a series of tense vignettes involving contract killings. The mood conjured here alternates between the mundane to the hauntingly surreal, from stomach-churning violence to quiet scenes of what feels like semi-improvised dialogue. Wheatley uses a fragmented editing style and handheld cameras to increase the mysterious atmosphere of dread and claustrophobia, and as the film veers into a truly unhinged climax that one dares not spoil, Kill List emerges as both an exercise in genre-mashing as well as a probing look into the dark edges of the human soul.



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