The Kill List – directed by Ben Wheatley – 2011

The Kill List is the second film by a new promising British director Ben Wheatley. The film has received positive reviews and been well discussed in the media, however the main point of discussion was how the film could be categorised. Initially the film seems to be a mundane portrayal of two middle aged men coping with growing old and the pressures of family life. Although as the film progresses it becomes more obvious that there is a darker side to these mens lives, having returned from serving in Iraq both turned to security work and then to becoming assassins. At this point it would be expected for the film to become a dramatic action-packed movie, yet the pace of the film remains slow. There are scenes of ultra-violence but they appear in bursts, similar to the characters emotions. Most of the dialogue is quite dull and stilted, with characters talking casually about day to day activities. On the other hand the film echoes such classic British horror such as Wicker Man with its ending and portrayal of the occult.

It is the pace of this film that makes it so effective in being so disturbing. This means that you can take in every shot and work out the significance, it also means when any event does occur it is surprising as it goes against the rhythm of the rest of the film. The film also looks at themes such as the invasion of a personal space and what could be counted as right or wrong. There is this constant question of whether people deserve to be killed for their bad deeds, with one member of the pair having issue with killing a priest due to his Catholic roots yet has no issue torturing a man they suspect is a paedophile.

The sound of the film is also crucial as it creates an undercurrent of uncertainty. There is little coherent music played, however there is a constant hum or beat in the background. This background noise is constructed of sounds around the characters or noises from previous scenes, making the scenes seem interlinked.

The editing is effective in creating unease as scenes are often cut off without any clear end to the dialogue or resolution of the discussion. The film is filmed in a similar style to a documentary, with hand held cameras and lots of tight shots, so the characters fill the screen. This makes the viewer feel as if they are invading the characters lives and adds to the unease.

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