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Review: Kill List

A poster, far superior to the actual product
Ben Wheatley's Kill List received a glowing response from this years Frightfest with the Guardian even comparing to British horror masterpiece, The Wicker Man. However, Robin Hardy need not fear, Kill List comes nowhere near to the piece of brilliance he and Anthony Shaffer created in 1973 - it's quite frankly one of the worst films of the year. In a bizarre smashing of genres, this suburban hitman thriller slowly (and I mean very slowly) bursts into an obscure occult horror. We follow two hitmen, returning to suburban England after a 'tough' job in Kiev, they soon take on a job from a mysterious client that leads them into extremely sinister territory.

One of my main issues with Kill List is the fact that it's so drawn out, for a film of 95 minutes, very little happens in the first three-quarters. This may have been very well had there been interesting character development or suspense built, but these are squandered detailing the monotony of family life or presenting us with several over-violent murders.  Had there been more links with the occult turn the film takes in it's ending and less crime-thriller, the film could have significantly benefited in my opinion. On the rare occasions that we see a build-up to this occult twist (e.g. a dinner guest drawing occult symbols behind a bathroom mirror) it's quickly forgotten about and swept away.

The film also suffers due to it's dull characters and poor character development. On several occasions we see the main character, Jay, ferociously arguing with his wife, seconds later we see this has been ignored and the couple are incredibly happy again. The dynamic between Jay and his colleague, Gal, despite being built up for the large part of the film; is ignored in an extremely unemotional climax for the characters. The range of acting in this would even make Danny Dyer cringe.

Underused occult elements.
I see myself as a big horror fan, so I can handle cinematic violence. However, the violence in Kill List is just excessive and truly adds nothing to the film except bad taste. The films that this has been compared to (The Wicker Man or Witchfinder General) were extremely successful without having to emphasize crude violence.

Had the occult aspects of Kill List been developed further, this could have been a very different film. When introduced these elements are genuinely quite scary but mainly spoilt by the the disjointed feel of the film. The suburban setting could have brought a strong feel of realism to the horror but the hitman elements completely diminish the little realism that was established. The film's ending is just unnecessarily nasty, almost sickening - ruined by a complete lack of suspense, as well as leaving a huge batch of unanswered questions and plot holes.

The Wicker Man or Witchfinder General this certainly is not. It's a disjointedness, poor character development, lack of suspense and warped ending, make Kill List one of the biggest cinematic disappointments of the year. If this is the best Frightfest had to offer then it's got me incredibly excited for The Wicker Tree, which was slated as one of the worst of the festival (and is sure to be brilliant).

Review 3502500675810507549
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