Blu-Ray Review: Kill List

Kill List
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Ben Wheatley
Starring Neil Maskell, MyAnna Burning, Michael Smiley
Rook Films, X Warp, IFC Films, MPI Media Group
Release Date (US): August 14, 2012

Kill List came to the states with a lot hype behind it. The sophomore feature film outing for British director Ben Wheatley is inaccurately described as a horror movie, but it is really a crime movie with a bit of the occult thrown in for flavor.

I had to wait for the home video release of Kill List to see what all the hype was about, but unfortunately, I was still left wondering as the closing credit appeared. Kill List is by no means a bad movie, but there is nothing special about it either.

Former solider and current hitman Jay (Neil Maskell) is still recovering from a job gone bad the year before. The emotional strain has kept him from working, and tthe lack of money is taking a toll on his marriage to Shel (MyAnna Burning). When friend and fellow hitman Gal (Michael Smiley) pays Jay a visit and offers him a part in his next job., he is initially reluctant. A mysterious client who insists on signing his contract in blood offers the men a large sum of money to eliminate a priest, a librarian, and a Member of Parliament. Jay takes the job, but is quickly unnerved when his targets appear to be welcoming their deaths.

When others critics have said a film is a “cult classic in the making” one could assume is because it has some unique draw that will keep people talking about for years to come, not because it borrows heavily from other films that have already achieved that status.

There are no supernatural elements to the film, no monsters in the shadows, no seemingly invincible serial killer, just ordinary people in a very extraordinary situation. I would not go as far as to say it is The Wicker Man with hitmen, but it definitely leans in that direction.

I’m not the type of person who likes or needs to have everything spelled out for me in a film. Ambiguity is often a strength in crime drama, but Kill List feels like it is purposefully cryptic for the sake of being cryptic and nothing else. In the end, the “why” questions are not tough to answer, other than why the “twist” ending is nowhere near as shocking as it intends to be. There are plenty of unsettling visuals, but the story behind Kill List never seems to reach its potential.

The bonus features included on the Blu-ray disc are commentary from Wheatley and writer Amy Jump, along with cast interviews along and a short look behind the scenes at the making of the film. The interviews focus more on the filmmaking process than on the story itself. The “making of” section has no narration so you are essentially watching someone film scenes from the movie from a wide enough angle to also include the lead camera operator and little else.

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