Kill List (Ben Wheatley, 2011)

What's it about? Contract killer Jay (Neil Maskell) has not worked for 8 months since his last mission in Kiev left him mentally and physically scarred. But with a wife and son to support, he is persuaded by long-time partner Gal (Michael Smiley) to take on another job. As they work their way down the hit-list, things get a little strange. What the flip is going on?

Is it any good? Tricky question, actually. Let's start with the positives. The best thing about it is the sense of foreboding that pervades the film. Helped by a low, ominous score and eerie soundscape, the film is distinctly unsettling in its set-up, to the extent that even a straightforward dinner scene feels oppressively menacing, never mind the explicit acts of violence that occur afterwards. (Those uncomfortable with hammer-to-human-body scenarios be warned). There are also some rather odd moments which act as foreshadowing clues that the film might be moving in a particular direction and which become more relevant in hindsight. All this is rather disconcerting because the characters and setting are otherwise rather 'ordinary', almost as if they have drifted in accidentally from a Mike Leigh kitchen-sink drama. This aspect means it even works as social satire in these recessionary times, with Jay's anxiety about money flow essentially kick-starting the whole thing, whilst the victims of the kill list could well represent the death of so-called cornerstones of society, such as religion and education. So, it's pleasing that a brain apparently lurks behind the violent, sinister exterior. However, for all that praise, one thing in particular hampers it : it does not make sense. Or more accurately, you have to work hard to make any sense of it and even if you decide you know what happened, many details remain vague and you could well be wrong. Does it have to be fully explained to work? Probably not, but a less obscure ending would have left me thinking 'Wow!' instead of 'Huh?'. And naturally my opinion is the only one they should be considering when making these things. One thing's for sure, it'll mess with your head.

I don't trust you. What do others think? Destined to be a cult classic and it has drawn favourable comparisons with British horror movies of the 60s/70s - one in particular will be brought to mind by the final scenes. Naturally, the ambiguity of the film that has polarised people, with those who like a clear narrative left frustrated, whilst those content to accept lack of specific details were delighted with its refusal to divulge all its mysteries. Individual viewers will have to decide for themselves if the (lack of) revelations are a strength or weakness of the film. In truth, Wheatley is evasive enough in interviews to suggest even he isn't entirely sure it all hangs together, but is happy to milk the debate for more publicity. Or perhaps there's no real closure because as he says 'You're supposed to be suffering'. Then again, David Lynch has got away with it in the past, so why not him?

What does the Fonz think? Good. I think. What happened again?

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