13 January 2012 | blueazure01
A simple review...
I have given Kill List five stars, so you could suggest I am sitting on the fence or driving in the middle of the road. Probably about right. I wanted to really like Kill List, I mean really like, because I am a fan of 'film' and this little movie is the one that film lovers seem to be talking about at this moment in time. Even Mark Kermode has included it in his top ten films of 2011, and as I respect Mark's attitudes most of the time to what constitutes good 'film' I wanted to be part of his gang.
Unfortunately, I can't agree with Mark's choice this time around. I have tried though, I promise I have given it really good consideration, discussed it on forums and read umpteen reviews about it. But alas, its not for me. And these are the reasons why;
I watched director Ben Wheatley's first film 'Down Terrace' a few weeks before Kill List. At the time I didn't know who he was, or that he had directed anything else. Down Terrace is a gritty little English film. Well directed, beautifully acted and played to perfection. Its wordy. Very wordy. Like a documentary in fact, and at times you feel like you maybe imposing on the characters free time. But its also a very clever little film, not groundbreaking but simple in its approach to the extent that it could almost be theatre (in a good way). What struck me about Down Terrace is that at certain points in the film it could of very easily used shock tactics to gain weight. It could of been a lot more graphic in its approach to the violence, but almost played itself down as it didn't need to go there in order to obtain status. It was clever and very simple.
But the equilibrium has now been corrected for Mr Wheatley, as Kill List is simply one of the most graphic and shocking movies I have ever seen. Not only is the violence horrendous, but given that Down Terrace played a nice subtle touch and used its simplicity to gorgeous effect, Kill List goes all out for shock tactics and confusion. Yes, the same brilliant dialogue can be found here, along with some terrific performances, but the whole film is let down by a storyline that was created so that it was impossible to follow coupled with explosions of hard core violence that simply look out of place. If the director wanted to leave the viewer shocked, appalled and confused, then I salute you Mr Wheatley for hitting the money on every level.
As a fan of film, I was left with nothing but frustration. I cannot fathom out why a director would want to tell a story that in the end leaves the viewer with nothing more than questions. Not clever, life affirming questions. Were not talking King Lear here. Call it contemporary, call it new wave. Call it shock tactics. Call it arse?
If you haven't seen Kill List, but love film, go and watch Down Terrace.
Shane Meadows has nothing to worry about.
So why the five stars after a review like this. Simply because I have never seen a film that has left me thinking "what was all that about?". The fact that its made me write this review, that I've gone on forums to discuss it... for that, and only that, i'll meet you half way.