Kill List review, by Ed Stilliard

Violence, unease and shock are the main ingredients in Kill List – a film which simmers until boiling point.

Opening with scenes of suburban couple Jay (Neil Maskell) and his Swedish wife, Shel (MyAnna Buring) having a shouting match over the state of their finances. It has been eight months since Jay’s last job, in Kiev, where it transpires over the course the film, that something went wrong.

It doesn’t take long for Jay’s Irish mate Gal (Michael Smiley) to say the next job is worth good money and the weak-willed Jay accepts it, after a little pressure from Shel. But naturally things don’t go as planned. The violence is unrelenting and as strong as the language which sets the tone throughout and there is a menace to the film. Throughout, there is a mystery as to who is the real monster.

Is it the hitmen, who we should hate, but find charming? Perhaps the client, who performs bizarre rituals to sign up contracts? Are the targets the real monsters? Throughout there is a question of history, where do people come from, what’s their background, and ultimately where are they going?

Any pervading sense of dread, or fear of what may be round the corner has long left the frame after the second assassination with questions as to who is causing the horror fly across the screen. Technically, the violence is supreme – it is a wonder how something so graphic can be in such unflinching detail on the screen – but it will leave a nasty taste in the mouth. As Jay and Gal continue on their path of destruction that bitter taste gets stronger and stronger until it is too hard for some to stomach. But here’s the rub, when the finale is revealed, the shock of the earlier violence makes it hard to find it find the third act scary. The desensitisation of the horrific scenes in the previous two acts almost ruin the final one, for this reviewer at least.

Nevertheless, it is a true British horror film up there with the best this country has to offer.
Controlled throughout, the film keeps pace and doesn’t let go at any point until the last moment when panic sets in.

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