Film: Kill list
Dir: Ben Wheatley
If you’re not easily impressed, you’re invited to watch the British indie mystery horror Kill List, because when you watch the climax, with your mouth wide open, these three things will assuredly happen:
a) You’ll scream ‘Wait! That didn’t make any sense!’ and fail to wipe the bewildered expression off your face. “What an illogical end to a brilliant film” you’ll mumble, as you scratch your beard in frustration.
Then, b) You’ll spend the next ten minutes hitting rewind, piecing the film, its characters, their reactions and their motivations together, and feeling the light dawn inside your skull. You will find yourself short of breath, in complete awe of the sheer genius.
And finally, c) You’ll spend the next 15 minutes desperately calling all your friends, frothing at your mouth with excitement, asking them to watch this movie.
Welcome to Kill List, an absolutely mesmerising and creepy thriller that mashes pitch black comedy together with Lynch, Cronenberg and Leigh. Directed by Ben Wheatley with the suave charm of a satirical comedian telling a horror story, the film follows a contract killer named Jay (Neil Maskell) who is talked into a new job by his friend (Michael Smiley) eight months after botching up a murder in Kiev.
The two meet their shady, wealthy client and are handed a ‘kill list’ of their targets. But something isn’t quite right. As they begin disposing their victims, Jay finds himself slipping into violent mood swings and viciously executes people outside the list. The Lynchian turn arrives as our hero slips into terrifying, unpredictable circumstances, leading to a brutal climax that leaves you dissecting it through your sleepless night.
Wheatley’s peppering of Kill List with black comedy, melding it with gangster-drama, socio-realist banter, surreal visuals and body horror sends mixed signals to the audience — the effect is delectably unnerving. The dark humour only adds to the disconcerting atmosphere in the film — and what an atmosphere it is — a sinister arthouse style plain vanilla palette, stripped off soul, blended with bizarre electronic sounds and unreliable characters.
The unpredictability of the story is quite unsettling, and every time the film’s tone becomes too ‘evil’, Wheatley throws in some text on screen in non sequitur, humorous font that works as a weird narrative chuckle. The chuckles serve as foreshadowing for the finale which has the intensity of a blood curdling nightmare. Best of all, Wheatley challenges your intellect and devilishly avoids spoon-fed exposition, and invites you to decipher the end yourself.
The film’s most inventive element is the portrayal of trained assassins by Maskell and Smiley — their performances are terrific as they improvise most of their lines, forgoing the typical Hollywood cool sniper wielding stereotype. They’re two hitmen who steal toiletries from a hotel and huddle up to make small talk, completely aware of each other’s capacity to stomach extreme violence.
They’re also two scrappy, sardonic pals tangled in a strained friendship, helplessly dependent on each other but unable to stand the sight of each other, a situation audaciously brought into play when in a scene one sends a coffee mug crashing into the other’s skull. Kill List was made for $1 million and it wipes the floor with big budget mainstream thrillers. It’s a testament to Wheatley’s cult status. He has already followed up this film with another critically acclaimed black comedy thriller called Sightseers and solidified his reputation as the most exciting and unique filmmaker in the business.
Mihir Fadnavis is a film critic and certified movie geek who has consumed more movies than meals
- I am unavailable on phone because I'm minding my manners: Superna Motwane
- The wizard with scissors
- Are you a grudging loner?
- Critics don't matter: Author Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi
- Delving into the youth subculture
- Think before you spray
- It's official! Pregnant women do experience discrimination at work
- A 'heavy-duty' life
- Are psychics the new detectives?
- Relationship Queries
Film: Kill list
- LIVE Delhi Assembly elections result 2013: Politics is not bad, politicians have become bad, says Arvind Kejriwal - 6 hours ago
- Live! Assembly election results: Congress wins in Mizoram - 11 hours ago
- LIVE Mizoram Assembly election results: Congress wins, will form government - 10 hours ago
- I hate India being called a developing nation: Amitabh Bachchan - 23 hours ago
- Salman Khan launches new digital poster of 'Jai Ho' - 7 hours ago