Kill List: Best movies of 2011, pick 7
Following a failed job in Kiev, Jay and Gal take on a contract killing as supplied by The Client. Venturing deeper into unexplored occult realms, the duo realizes they are facing a cryptic adversary that has marked them both.
Sitting somewhere between Leon, Angel Heart and The Wicker Man, Kill List owes its success to a combining a hybrid of sub-genres. The result is a Post-modern thriller which forgoes predictable formulas to cue a gripping narrative as we follow our protagonists as they tick off victims as supplied by their mysterious client.
From the opening kitchen-sink realism styled family drama, exploring a marriage under financial constraint to the satanic ritualistic murder, Kill List is tinted with black humor and moments of Gasper Noe shocking violence. It is perhaps the unrelenting tension the characters render on their journey that allows the film to succeed where violence for its own sake would have dismally lost our attention.
Following a dinner party where Gal brings his new mysterious high-flying city girlfriend, the duo are marked by a cabal and surprisingly, in hindsight, this spells out their demise.
Jay’s wife, Swedish born Shel is superb as the sharp-tongued matriarch who calls the shots. A codependent relationship with the urban trappings built upon contract killing, the marriage is a portrait of unyielding loyalty. As Jay relents and succumbs to pressure, clues are planted along their journey, which foreshadow the diabolic events to come. The Angel Heart voodoo style killing of animals is successfully amalgamated into the British landscape.
The scenery is bleak; paisley-papered hotels, abandoned warehouses and a rural labyrinth of torch-lit tunnels suffocate us as the paranoia and fear sets in.
Despite their veteran training, it is the Crowley-esque cabal that sets the stakes. Here, Wheatley (similar to Dennis Wheatley) suggests the occult holds more power than anything tangible including an arsenal of guns and weapons and bravado. The final stand against the cabal is target practice but in the end, Jay and Gal are overpowered.
The Pulp Fiction styled chapter headings further chronologies the narrative for our convenience and catalogues a piecemeal arc in which various well-established cultural ideas are planted. This is ultimately Kill List’s strength.
Not only does it succeed in retelling a familiar hitman tale, it does it whilst allowing us to make our own conclusions, vastly helped by previous movie references. This is all part of the fun.
Check out another must see movie review from Pinstripe Magazine, We Need to Talk About Kevin: Best movies of 2011, pick 6