The UK get a bad rep for horror really. There isn't a great deal of money being put into british film but with Film4 and the National Lottery funding independent directors have been bring some excellent british cinema. We also have some great horror directors around. Recently, we've started seeing a more extreme side to us. The latest being Kill List.
I will hold my hands up now, I hated Kill List on first view. I found it confusing, dull and I didn't feel the payoff was worth it. However, after much convincing from friends and other horror fans I decided to give it another shot. It's currently on lovefilm free with my subscription so wasn't losing anything. Second time round, Kill List is a whole different experience. Yes I know what's going to happen but I also notice so much more!
Maskell's character Jay, a hitman, hasn't worked in 8 months since something went wrong on a job in Kiev. You get the impression that he is both mentally and physically affected by the job. When money runs out and pressures get on top of him, Jay agrees to do one last job with his friend and partner so he can live comfortably with his wife, played by MyAnna Buring and his young son.
It starts out as a bit of a domestic drama then a hitman movie. On first view, the horror just doesn't seem to play any part until the final 10-15 minutes. On second viewing I started to notice the overall feel. That nasty vibe where you know things just are not going to end well for anyone here. Religion plays a huge part here. Jay obviously is not a believer in any sort of organised religion. I got the feeling he had been at some point but history had caused him to lose that faith. Smileys character seems less skeptical and spends some time apologising for his partners behaviour. Right from the get go you know this job isn't what it appears to be. When the deal is sealed with blood being spilled. The thing that stands out for me on the first and second viewing was the explicit kills. One kill involving a hammer is just so brutal I was not expecting it. It appears all the effects are practical too! A welcome change from the CGI infested industry at the moment.
Storywise, Kill List plods along nicely, some bits feel long and drawn out on first watch but on second watch you realise it's importance. The scenes of family life, violence and friendship are all there to give that ending the kick that it needs. Cinematography is very well done. It feels gritty and realistic. Conversations don't feel forced and scripted. Some scenes you just want to see more and questions are left unanswered but the fun is in wondering, making up your own conclusion. Wheatley never spoon feeds.
Quite frankly, I regret ever slating Kill List. It is a great piece of british cinema and Britain needs more exposure in the horror world right now!