Jay (Neil Maskell) has never fully gotten over Kiev. As a hit man, something went wrong when he took the job in the Ukraine and as a result, Joe has been out of work for about 8-months which has put stress on both his financial situation and his marriage to Shel (MyAnna Buring).
But when his friend and partner Gal (Michael Smiley) comes over for dinner, Jay is given a chance at another job. An ‘easy’ job in the assassination of three local men. Given Jay’s situation, he is fairly quick to decide and soon Jay and Gal are embarking on a small trip where they will encounter their first target – The Preacher. The job itself was easy, but Jay is a bit confused as to why The Preacher said “Thank you” while facing his assassin right before a bullet punctured his skull.
The next target was The Librarian – a Dr. Who looking character that Jay and Gal follow only to find evidence of some kind of child pornography or torture stored on DVDs. This uncovering sends Jay into an unrestrained rage and The Librarian is killed in more brutal and violent fashion. But before The Librarian is killed, he too thanks Jay and seems to have some kind of recognition as to who Jay really is.
For the final name on the list, Jay and Gal camp out outside the large home of The M.P. It is during the night that Jay and Gal watch from their hidden spot in the woods as countless masked and naked men and women carrying torches parade through an open path to an open area where one of the women of the group hangs herself.
Unable to contain his emotions, Jay opens fire on the members that seem to resemble a cult, and soon Jay and Gal are on a frightening run for their lives from screeching and determined horde of cult members.
Jay is able to find safety back at his cottage retreat where his wife and their young son have been in hiding, but the cult tracks them down and soon the entire family will be fighting for their life against an evil that they don’t quite understand.
Kill List was directed by Ben Wheatley who last directed 2009’s Down Terrace. It is an interesting and incredibly engrossing thriller that keeps zigging when you think it will zag and zagging when you think it will zig. The first 20-minutes of the film would have you question why this film is a thriller at all. The opening focuses on the dysfunctional relationship between Jay and his wife and a dinner party gone awry with Gal and his date.
When the film switches to a hit man genre, you would guess that this will be the crust of the remainder of the film. But Wheatley has more reveals behind the curtain and by films end you will have screened something that can best be described as The Wicker Man meets Rosemary’s Baby.
Kill List is a fine example of what good acting, a descent script and a whirlwind of a story (written by Ben Wheatley and Amy Jump) can bring to a lower budget film. And by ‘lower budget’ we refer only to the fact that there is no splash of extravagance in Kill List. The story takes precedence and it is an interesting one that will keep you guessing when you are not turning our head sideways in mock disgust of Jay’s ever increasing violent actions.
A sequence where Jay and Gal are being chased by cult members in an underground tunnel system is the films high tension point, but it will likely be the ending to the film where Jay is pitted against a character with the introductory title card of ‘The Hunchback’ that is likely to draw the most discussion after viewing.
No matter what the discussion topic on the ride home, Kill List is a much to be enjoyed film filled with real characters and is one of the more interesting stories of the year.