The Cult Class Collection

Kill List (2011)

Starring: Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley, MyAnna Buring, Emma Fryer, Harry Simpson, Struan Rodger

Directed by: Ben Wheatley

Rating: 1 2 3 4 5

Neil Maskell as hitman Jay in Kill ListKill List has a lot to live up to. With rave reviews in both the horror and mainstream press, it's been described as the best British horror film since the '70s. Phew! Can it possibly live up to the hype?

Hell, yeah.

Jay (Neil Maskell) is an ex-soldier who hasn't worked in eight months, since something went wrong on his last job. Money is tight, his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) is losing patience and cute son Sam (Harry Simpson) is upset by the constant arguments. Old army mucker Gal (Michael Smiley) has a proposition for him, but after a huge row with Shel during an awkward, drunken dinner party at the couple's home, he eventually capitulates.

So far so Mike Leigh kitchen sink drama – except for the unnerving whistling, echoing soundtrack and darting, paranoid camerawork that instil a sense of menace an into even the simplest, most prosaic actions and conversations. Oh, and the fact that Jay and Gal are hitmen, and the job in question is a 'kill list' with three names on it.

And that's when things get weird.

Michael Smiley as Gal in Kill List

To reveal any spoilers about this film would be a crime. Suffice it to say that wherever you think it may be leading, it probably isn't and, although there is a large element of 'wtf?' as it approaches its horrific climax, you'll be utterly gripped.

Combining the warm squaddie banter and surprisingly sympathetic, utterly credible characterisation of Dog Soldiers with the crushing sense of evil of Witchfinder General, the film winds us in like Sergeant Howie's schooldesk beetle in The Wicker Man. Seriously unsettling, this is a film that will stay with you: it's been a long time since I've lain awake at 3 o'clock in the morning wishing I could think about something else...

  • Share on Tumblr