[Sydney Film Festival 2011: Review] Kill List
Kill List (UK)
Dir. Ben Wheatley
For the second time this festival I was slumming it in the festival’s genre hub – Event Cinemas 8, George St – while everyone else was off at the State Theatre enjoying the big movie of the evening, Terrence Malick’s much anticipated Tree of Life.
On my agenda was Kill List, the fourth and possibly most intriguing movie in what has turned out to be an unconscious ambition to turn this years SFF into a “
On first viewing it’s hard to know quite what to make of it. It’s clearly delineated into three acts, each distinct from the other. In the first we meet Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley), and the women in their lives, Shel (McAnna Buring) and Fiona (Emma Fryer), at a house-bound evening dinner. Seemingly a normal south-England group of people, there’s a dark, violent undercurrent to the night which explodes in a domestic dispute between Jay and Shel. In the second act we learn the men are hitmen, contracted by a mysterious businessman to execute his “Kill List.” Jay’s the more unstable of the two, and increasingly succumbs to more barbaric acts of torture (including one grisly scene with a hammer). The more people they eliminate, the more is becomes apparent the duo may be in over their heads.
Answers are provided (or are they?) in the third act, which I dare not even come close to spoiling. Even in these stages, director Ben Wheatley (in only his second film) feels in total control, and what transpires will stir vehement post-film argument. Even mentioning a film that it has some kinship with might act as a spoiler. Whatever your reading of its more ambiguous moments, Kill List remains an assured piece of thriller cinema that’s unsettlingly banal and drowned in a miserable grey and brown colour palette. The believable, fiery chemistry between the two hit-men, also, is a bonus.
– Joshua Blackman