More than any other film I've seen recently, Kill List is a film that focuses on having three distinct acts. It opens up as a rather mundane domestic drama about a married couple, struggling with financial problems and arguing aggressively. The story takes a darker turn when the husband takes up a job with a former partner to fulfil a Kill List - a list of names their mysterious employers provide them with, whom they must eliminate. It is here that the film launches into the second act - a thrilling and gritty crime drama and then the third act shockingly reveals itself in the final 15 minutes twisting the genre on its head.
This is one of those films that slipped under the radar somewhat, despite great praise from critics and 5-star reviews, but to get people to pay attention to it, some of the key plot details were teased out. For example, I was aware that the film had a horror-style twist, which alerted me to some of the more peculiar moments. The best way to experience this film would be to go in blind, as the change of gears as the film switches genres is better experienced without prior knowledge.
For a low-budget British film, it didn't particularly feel low-budget. Some of the more violent set-pieces were orchestrated so deftly that one sequence had me confused to how they pulled it off without actually hammering an actor's head in. The actors improvised some of the lines during the film, something which adds to the realism of the scenes and shows spontaneous reactions to each other, which works much better than following a script in some places.
For a horror movie, it never quite hits the scary note and while some moments are chilling and creepy, it doesn't fully qualify as a horror to me. The sequence in the tunnels could have been more effective with some better lighting, as what should have been a thrilling chase to safety resembled a chaotic jog in relative darkness.
I would recommend this to people who like independent British cinema and a mish-mash of genres. It reminds me of some of the Japanese/Korean movies from the last decade where the film takes a complete twist into a totally different genre from its beginnings.
Complex, evocative, and fascinating this film, similar in some ways to John Fowles novel "The Magus" combines echoes of "The Wicker Man" with violence akin to Tarantino at his most extreme. Mythic references to Arthurian legends, Taroesque imagery, and pagan rituals blend effortlessly with a Mike Leigh style naturalism that results in a visceral and cerebrally demanding cinematic experience not easily forgotten. Truly original contribution to the horror genre that's acted, directed and shot more impressively than many big budget movies. This director is clearly one with an interesting future ahead.
A film which appears to pose more questions than provide answers, a mystery that remains mysterious, a more-or-less random display of mercenary violence? I can only make coherent sense of this film by seeing it as a modern reworking of the mythology of the king-in-waiting , who does not himself realise that is what he is, who has to undergo various rites of passage and be alienated from his old life before can realise his destiny. The priest, a symbol of the established religion, the librarian the keeper of forbidden knowledge, the MP, the symbol of mainstream power, have a tarot-like resonance and the sacrifice of family, the ultimate severing from the old life, also finds echoes. All this may, of course, just be me trying construct a gestalt for the film. But, certainly, the second time through, with this blueprint applied, it worked better and I enjoyed it far more.