FrightFest 2011 Review: Kill List
by Ben Bussey
Contract killer Jay (Maskell) hasn’t worked in months. He lives comfortably with his wife (Buring) and their son, but the debts are starting to pile up, not to mention the marital tensions. Anxious to avoid taking on a job after a bad experience on his last one, Jay resists any offers until the problems at home reach breaking point. Seeing no alternative, he accepts an offer from his best friend and business partner Gal (Smiley). The client is enigmatic; the contract is for three deaths. But it soon transpires that this is not the sort of job Jay and Gal are used to, which threatens to push them way beyond their comfort zone and into some very dark and dangerous places indeed, both figuratively and literally.
Kill List premiered on Sunday 28th August at FrightFest; i.e. almost 48 hours before this review came online. During the festival I’ve been doing my best to get reviews of the most notable films up as soon as possible, but in this instance I’ve held back just a little, and there’s a reason for this. When writing up a film within hours of seeing it, there’s always the danger of rushing out a gut reaction that isn’t necessarily the most level-headed response, and I think if I’d rushed this one out straight away that’s what you’d be reading now. See, here’s the thing; the problem I’ve had with Kill List isn’t so much to do with the film itself as the way it was sold to us at FrightFest. As the weekend’s sole Total Film-sponsored screening it was clearly marked out as a festival highlight, and given a gushing introduction from Total Film’s Jamie Graham, promising something which would rock us to the core. However, by the time the end credits rolled, I for one was distinctly underwhelmed. This gave way to annoyance. I’ve already gone and expressed that annoyance on Twitter, and I gather (in turn) I’ve rather annoyed director Ben Wheatley in doing so. I hardly think that should weigh too heavily on Wheatley’s mind right now, however, given the huge amount of praise the film is gathering elsewhere. Many are declaring Kill List not only the best film of FrightFest 2011, but also the best British film of recent years. Read the rest of this review here.
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