Classic Review – Kill List (2011)

Kill List

Title – Kill List (2011)

Director – Ben Wheatley (A Field in England)

Cast – Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring

Plot – Struggling to adjust back into normal life after his time in the war zone of the Middle East and dealing with issues in his marriage with wife Shel, pent-up with rage Jay (Maskell) takes on a job with best friend Gal (Smiley) that will lead them both down a dark and mysterious path when they are tasked with killing off 3 specific targets for a shady group.

“Thank you”

Review by Eddie on 16/04/2014

Watching Ben Wheatley’s stunning second feature length film Kill List can only be described as being likened to an unexpected punch straight to your stomach, an experience that leaves you both breathless and baffled but an experience in this case that comes out of no where and enters into your conscience and won’t likely leave for many days if not weeks to come. A powerful, original and horrific movie Kill List is a modern day classic entry into the echelons of the horror film genre and a piece of filmmaking that has set up Wheatley as one of the most promising filmmakers to emerge within the last decade.

The story of Kill List can be described simply as ex-army mates Jay and Gal re-adjusting to life back home in England after serving in the Middle East and consequently taking up jobs as hitman  that leads them onto a path that takes many an unexpected and nerve wracking turn. A film like Kill List that takes such a ride only comes along once every now and then and every tension soaked moment of the tale should be watched with the utmost intensity as there is much lying beneath the surface that is just threatening to burst out at any given moment. Wheatley and his talented cast that includes another great collaboration with Michael Smiley (who makes memorable appearances in both Wheatley’s debut Down Terrace and the loopy yet fantastic A Field in England) give the film such a tension fuelled feeling that every moment of madness, every scene of shocking violence and every dialogue driven encounter makes an impression and ads to a story that has so much room for theory and interpretation is has taken on a whole nothing meaning in the years following it’s release.

Released to much critical acclaim yet equal amounts criticism and audience backlash it’s not hard to see why so many equally hate Kill List as those that love it. It’s a film that confides to no set narrative standard, a story that cares not to pander to those that want force fed answers and a story that makes no apologies for at times being nigh unwatchable whether to what is happening on screen or what is perhaps just lurking around that dread laden corner. Wheatley’s construction of this tale is both frighteningly unique and raw that it’s not hard to see why the man has been hailed as Britain’s greatest new filmmaking talent and projects that have appeared subsequently in the aftermath of the film all seem just as mind shattering and challenging as what is displayed here, in particular a collaborations with cable channel HBO that sounds all types of great.

Watch Kill List without any research, listen to my words here and watch a film that will just as likely leave you wanting more and is ripe for re-watches or a film that you will wish you never partook in. For Kill List converts the film offers up an energy that is so lacking in many modern day films and a power that makes it at times almost chest bursting intense. A wild ride that is not easily forgotten put Kill List on your much watch list, for better or for worse.

4 and a half claw hammers out of 5

35 responses to “Classic Review – Kill List (2011)

  1. Awesome review of an awesome movie! I wouldn’t say that it doesn’t follow a set narrative structure, though, just that each act of the film is so completely different from the other that people can’t stay locked into it. It goes from PTSD family dramedy to offbeat hitman film to twisted horror story, but I agree with you that it works brilliantly.

    It would shock me how under-the-radar Wheatley is if it weren’t for the fact that horror filmmakers always get the short end of the stick. Still haven’t seen A Field of England but Sightseers was quite good as well in a completely different way. Can’t wait for his High Rise movie.

    • Oh I can’t imagine him not being more well known in the near future, his a very exciting and original director.

      A Field in England is all types of crazy but it’s extremely watchable and intriguing all the same. Can’t wait to see more of his career unfold.

  2. This film left me absolutely stunned upon its conclusion. After two years I’m still not sure if I like it or not, and I’m not sure I want to watch it again to find out! Ha. Wheatley is such an intriguing director too. Down Terrace is good fun, and you nailed it re: A Field in England. Great review as always Eddie!


    • Hi Adam

      Your right about Down Terrace mate, for a film shot in about 2 weeks it was pretty solid and showed signs of what Wheatley could do. I think the great power of Kill List is to leave viewers like you stunned and years later still feeling the effects of it.

  3. Good review Eddie. It’s a pretty messed-up movie, which is definitely surprising how the first-thirds of it seem so ordinary, yet so thrilling at the same time. Then, all of a sudden, it switches gears into being something a lot more twisted.

    • Hey bud, totally agree man the whole film has an air of dread and works as a drama, thriller and flat out visceral horror. Very hard for a movie to be so many things at once.

  4. Nice review. I really love this film until the end as I think the very talented filmmaker undid all his great work with an overly surreal/poetic ending. I.e. I sensed he wasn’t too sure how to end it so went for horror and shock rather than attempting to make narrative sense. It’ a great ending which didn’t work for me. Bravado filmmaking though on a low-budget with great dread and atmosphere. The sense of guilt and horror in Neil Maskell’s performance is great and he replicated that in a really good British TV show called UTOPIA – you may be able to get it on 4OD –

    I think Wheatley’s best film is the very sick and twisted SIGHTSEERS (2012) – very dark and funny serial-killer-road-movie-comedy.

    • Mate some great thoughts there. I will have to look into Utopia. I still feel personally that this is Wheatleys best flick yet but I get a feeling his got more up his sleeve.

  5. I adored it. It horrified me and I’m not entirely sure I understood it fully, but it was stunning. As with all his films, it confounded description and expectation and that is never a bad thing.

  6. Absolutely loved this movie, Ben Wheatley is class. The horror aspect isn’t what made it for me though it was Michael Smiley’s humour. Fantastic actor! Cant understand why people hated it. Good review

    • Absolutely sticks in the mind, a great feat for a film. Agree on Down Terrace also, even though I didn’t totally love Sightseers I think Wheatley is a massive talent.

  7. I have Kill List to watch but I’m too scared. I’m not a horror fan, or an ‘ultra-violence’ kind of guy. Should that be enough to put me off?! How scary and violent are we talking guys?!

  8. Pingback: Classic Review Kill List (2011) - movieBlogs·

  9. Thank you for a great review, you express what I could not; I was too stunned. Worse, I could find no one to discuss the film with and I was dying to do so! I do believe it’s time to watch this masterwork again. Thank you again sir!

      • Good advice, I think I’ll arrange a little movie party this weekend! That movie really got in me, I was hypnotized watching it. “No way!” seemed to be the predominate thought, along with OMG!

  10. Pingback: 10 Most Anticipated Films of 2016: Eddie’s Take | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  11. Pingback: Film Review – Observance (2015) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  12. Pingback: Film Review – High Rise (2015) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  13. Pingback: Free Fire: Red Band Trailer – The Cripple Critique·

  14. Pingback: Film Review – Free Fire (2016) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  15. Pingback: Film Review – Rebecca (2020) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

  16. Pingback: Film Review – In the Earth (2021) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s