This review was originally posted by me on letterboxd on the 20th October 2012. Enjoy!
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I can’t say that I enjoy watching this film. It unnerves me more than any horror or thriller that I’ve ever watched, and I watch a lot. The viewing experience is uncomfortable to say the least; when I first saw it in the cinema, I left physically shaking. And yet I agreed to watch it again the other night in the comfort of my own living room. Why? Because despite this film leaving me in a state of distress when I see it, I am inexplicably drawn to it. Its images stay with me for days after the final credits roll, and this is what makes Kill List an amazing film, not it’s entertainment value, but it’s potency and power.
I recommend to anyone who has seen this film only once, that they watch it again, because the film offers so many parallels and symbols that only become clear (or clearer) on a second view. The macabre beauty of the picture lies in its early suggestion of what is to come; the sword fight in the garden, the rabbit mangled on the lawn, the “thank you”s, the play fights, the fire, and the Christians in the restaurant, all foreshadow the action of the later half. The slow pace and quietness of the first 30 minutes or so builds an agonising tension, with Jim Williams’ score setting your teeth on edge to scenes of mundane domesticity. Whistled, child-like refrains hover eerily over scenes in Jay and Shel’s house, only to return more aggressively at one of the most genuinely disturbing moments of the whole film.
Metaphors abound, and many theories have arisen as to what such-and-such signifies. It is a metaphor for Britain, a dream narrative, a comment on the after effects of war, a study in extremist religion, and a twisted horror film, depending on who you ask. All I know is that it scared the living daylights out of me, but not in the usual American, slasher-horror way. Desperately search for meaning, or sit back and feel your mind messed with, it’s up to you. Either way, I recommend it to anyone who is tiring of more typical gore-fests and ghost stories.
FINAL VERDICT: ★★★★