31 Days of Hallowe’en, Day 19: Kill List (2011)

source: articulationtimes.com

Well, this one was fucking weird. To call this horror might seem a bit of a stretch at first; it’s more of a surreal action thriller. It’s not really a slow-burner as the tension is more grounded in reality, and the movie doesn’t make a horror-esque shift until well into the duration. But I’ll leave it at that, because the less you know about the plot, the better effect it has.

kill list

This one has some pretty nifty names attached to it – such as director Ben Wheatley, who recently helmed acclaimed Doctor Who episodes Deep Breath and Into the Dalek, and will be capitalising on the menacing half of Tom Hiddleston‘s face in upcoming ’70s-set horror High Rise. Great acting comes from three stars I like to watch out for: Phone Shop (yes)’s Emma Fryer, Utopia‘s Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley, who I’ve loved in everything he’s done since Spaced, and I try to go out of my way to see whatever he’s popped into.

kill list

I don’t think I’d watch this again if you paid me, but not because it was bad. Without revealing too much, I’ll say that tension is abound in this film, from all-too-familiar domestic tension from a toxic relationship, to strained friendships and financial problems. So when the external tension starts building up, along with some pretty gory and emotionally disturbing (beyond WTF) imagery, it got to the point where I was forcing myself to sit through it for the sake of just getting it over with. And the ending? You’ll need a strong stomach. It’s fucking grisly stuff.

kill list

The characters live quite insular but moderately comfortable lives, but their physical isolation ups the eeriness factor while setting an increasingly bleak tone. There’s a fair bit of imagery borrowed from The Shining (notably title cards), and there are some other spoiler-y horror homages that crop up later on. Most chilling of all is the music; it’s very overdramatic, quite odd, extremely surreal – and it should feel out of place in fairly normal scenes, but somehow it doesn’t. It’s a very stylised chiller, but uncomfortably steeped in plausibly miserable horror, and even with the smatterings of dark humour, you’ll be so short of breath mouthing “WTF?!?” into a closed hand that you’ll need to watch something very nice afterwards.

 

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