DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

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Monday, September 05, 2011

Darkmatters Review: Kill List


Dir. Ben Wheatley

Reviewed by Matt Adcock

“They are bad people – They should suffer.”

What if there are malign, crazed occult forces at work behinds the scenes of our society?
Wouldn’t it be unnerving if they employed hit-men to take out people they deemed worthy of death – on a ‘Kill List’?

Step into the world of ex-squaddie Jay (Neil Maskell) he’s suffering from some sort of post traumatic stress disorder and although he and his pal Gal (Michael Smiley) are assassins for hire, he hasn’t been able to kill anyone for at least 8 months.

The film start as Gal and his odd girlfriend Fiona (Emma ‘PhoneShop’ Fryer) have dinner with Jay and Swedish his ex-military Mrs Shel (MyAnna ‘The Descent’ Burning). Things are not good with Jay and Shel – the meal is so naturalistic and charged with ill feeling that is one of the most painful domestic scenes ever committed to film.

Anyway, Gal gets Jay to agree to take on a lucrative hit – to wipe out 3 people on a kill list for some sinister old geezer who writes his contracts in blood. The film works through escalating ‘hits’ buoyed by the believable and likeable buddy banter of the two leads. There is a classic scene where the two have an alteration with a group of guitar happy Christians in a hotel restaurant – which alludes to a spiritual battle taking place behind the scenes - and certainly adds an extra element to the film which many will probably gloss straight over.

As a Christian I'm always interested in depictions of spiritual powers and their effect on us - be that the delusion of cults, the supernatural power of evil or (and never normally very well captured) the majestic all powerful nature of God (see TREE OF LIFE for best recent reflection on this). Kill List might not be your first choice for a spiritual film but it definitely packs a loaded element of supernatural disturbance...


Before you write Kill List off as a oddball quirky Brit gangster flick, you should know that if you let it, it will get under your skin and eat its way out from the inside! There is the growing palpable sense of unease that I haven’t experienced as deeply since the excellent voodoo dread feel of the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. And yes horror fans Kill List morphs into a full-blooded horror film at the end, which left the audience I saw this with - in shocked, stunned silence with a super grim sucker punch ending.

The occult elements of the film aren’t worked as satisfyingly as might have been – indeed one of the mates I saw this with was left cold by the whole low budget, exposition less natural feel. But for those willing to embrace shocking violence, forgive slightly lumpy plot transitions and seek enjoyment in a weird and darkly funny British horror – Kill List marks itself out as a heavyweight viewing experience.

Think The Wicker Man (original), mixed with House of the Devil and Dead Man’s Shoes, set in a recession era modern day Britain and you have something altogether more interesting than most sugar coated supposed horror recent efforts.

Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:


(4 - Turbo charged and spewing black fumes)...

Awesomeness öööö – some very heavy duty scenes

Laughs öö – a few dark chuckles to be had

Horror ööööö – some of this is beyond grim

Babes ööö – MyAnna Burning gives good blonde

Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - brutal and stark warped spirituality

"Oi son, your misses is a nutter..."

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