Happy Halloween! #1: ‘Kill List’ (2011) 10.31.14

Ben Wheatley’s “Kill List” is not only my favorite horror film of the past 6 years, it’s also one of my favorite films of the past 6 years. And one that earned itself a coveted #1 spot on my favorite films of 2012. More than any other film I think I’ve written about, there’s literally so many positive aspects one could talk
about in discussing the film. That and I would have to write a college level Thesis just in order to merely hint at what an incredible piece of filmmaking it really is from almost every and all aspects. First, is the “meta-ness” component of the whole thing. It’s equal parts family relationship drama, hit man/gangster pseudo-action film, to pure, unadulterated full blown psychological horror film. It’s an unbelievably well constructured and pre-calculated work that at least in my textbook, gives new meaning to the leaving a trail of breadcrumbs, foreshadowing, and foreboding sets of clues genre piece that in order to really fully appreciate it on the level it’s meant to be, really requires multiple viewings on behalf of the viewer in order to truly “get it”. Or at least your version of what you think it may be about. What I will say is this – I’ve seen it about a half a dozen times now and each and every time I pick up or learn something new from it that I didn’t catch from the previous viewing before it. That, and I’ve come up with a few different explanations of what I think it’s about. Though each time it serves itself well enough to justify an explanation for each one of them. A true testament to Wheatley’s multi-interpretative script. The second thing worth pointing out is that it contains maybe THE most brilliantly orchestrated score in modern day horror, and certainly one of the all time greatests that for me I put right up there with Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” (1980). Its ominous, chilling, and melancholy use of strings doesn’t almost, but in the case of this film, literally acts as a second character. Adding in a substantial textural addition to its overall greatness. Third, it’s important to point out that it’s one of the better depictions I’ve seen of a man’s deteriorating psychosis, and how one can get so psychologically damaged to the point that it drives them to the brink of insanity. Last, but certainly far from the least, it’s one of the most disturbing pieces of cinema that I’ve seen in as far back as I can remember. Maybe ever. The two main characters’ “list” of assignments shows them committing murders that are so dark, so grisly, and yet so incredibly realistic, that it’s another compliment to Wheatley as a filmmaker. If you set out to truly do a uniquely original horror film, a game changer piece if you will, you have to go to these dark places in cinema that are so rarely often explored with such an authenticity and effectiveness such as this. To end, I think it’s not only important but crucial to point out the fact that it contains one of the most “oh my god I can’t believe what I’m seeing here” all out visceral, intense, gripping, and utterly diabolical endings that’s so unnerving I’m literally left so shaken up by it that it leaves me borderline traumatized every time. The last 20 minutes alone puts a new face on the word terrifying. This is a horror film that is so often overlooked, underappreciated, and almost forgotten in film circles; particularly when talking about true modern day horror, that I consider it an almost a moral obligation on my part to expose it to the rest of the world and practically everyone I know. Because I will say this, like the late, great film critic Roger Ebert said before he passed away – “I’ve seen upwards to maybe 10,000 films in my life. Though of that 10,000 maybe 50 only really stood out”. Well, “Kill List” for me is and always will be remembered as one of those films that I will have a lifelong connection to and can completely and honestly say without holding back, really does it for me.




3 thoughts on “Happy Halloween! #1: ‘Kill List’ (2011) 10.31.14

  1. very solid list and would agree with most of them including kill list being my #1 as well. I would also be including “Snowtown Murders” in my list. Some others to consider which I loved were “The Colletor”, “Tucker and Dale Vs Evil”, “Dead Snow”, “Martyrs”. “Lords of Salem” as you well know I did not like at all.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Martyrs” would have been the only one of those that matched my criteria. And I made a conscienctious decision to leave out any of the films of the New French Extremity movement (ie “High Tension”, “Inside”, “Them”, “Frontier(s)” etc) as most of those came out longer than 6 years ago. “Tucker & Dale vs. Evil” and “Dead Snow” wouldn’t have made the cut either because they’re horror-“comedies”. And my intent was to stay strictly with horror. “Snowtown Murders” while good, I consider to be more of a “crime” film. “The Collector” I felt pretty similarly to how you feel about “Lords of Salem”. I thought it was a contrived “Saw” retread (and ironically enough from the writers and producers of the “Saw” sequels).


  2. Great list.. I will have to rent Kill List & Lords of Salem soon. I have not seen either yet.

    My top 6 horror movies in the last 6 yrs in order from Least fav to Best is probably:

    TheConjuring, The Woman In Black, Sinister, DragMeToHell, TheLovedOnes, & #1, The House of the Devil.
    (3 of those movies being movies you recommended to me)

    favorite horror movie in the past decade is El Orfanato ‘TheOrphanage’

    Liked by 1 person

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