Saturday, October 1, 2011

VIFF 2011 Review - Kill List

Walking out of Kill List, my mind worked as I tried to figure out the film. Like a crime scene investigator I recalled plot elements and tried to assemble everything to see if it all fit with the ending. I am not sure that everything does, but the fact that I would be willing to re-watch the movie to know for sure, should be a high compliment.

Jay is an ex British soldier who has just returned to civilian life with his wife and son. Jay′s life isn’t exactly normal though as he and his friend Gal are hitmen. After taking a job that requires them to kill three different people, they are set on a journey that will take them into the heart of evil.

This is the most basic synopsis of the film I can give, as it is hard to tell what is spoiler territory with Kill List. I feel comfortable calling this a horror movie as in the second half there are some genuinely terrifying scenes, but the majority of the movie is slow and dialogue driven. This is what draws the majority of my criticism. Multiple times the film builds up suspense, then a long dialogue scene ruins it. By the end when I should have been on the edge of my seat, I wasn’t. At least the last half hour of the movie really delivers on scares and suspense. I think if some of the slowest scenes were reworked the feeling of dread that is felt at times during the film could have been felt throughout.

Of all the actors in the film, the only person I recognized is Michael Smiley who played Tyres on the British TV show Spaced. His performance as Gal is fantastic, and he brings humor and sincerity to the role.

Kill List is a film with its foundation resting securely on ambiguity. It never gives the audience any more information than needed, and this statement might even be a little generous. The movie never makes clear exactly what is going on, which at times can be frustrating. With the way that the film is, I think that too much thought into everything could negatively affect your experience. This film seems to be all about the in the moment viewing experience, and if this is actually the case, then the film is a success. The scenes of absolutely brutal violence went over well with the audience and the chase at the end had everyone breathless.

Kill List takes a while to get where its going, but when it gets there it delivers. The film did leave a strong impression on me, and this will be something that I will be revisiting, if only to decide exactly what my thoughts are about the movie.

A Good Banana

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