Kill List: Forgotten Greats No.2

For part 2 of Moviehooker’s Forgotten Greats, I have chosen Ben Wheatley’s classic cult horror Kill List. For part one, The Perfect Host – Click here

Released in 2011, Kill List is a British folk horror in the style of The Wicker Man. Starring Neil Maskell and Michael Smiley, it tells the story of two hitmen who take on what seems like a straightforward job with a nice handsome payout. 

Kill List is a great example of independent cinema done right. The real horror comes from the brooding atmosphere and excellent use of sound design, not to mention two flawless performances from Maskell and Smiley. Yes, of course, there are moments of gruesomeness and brutality (I’m looking at you, hammer scene) but at the core, this is a terrifying psychological folk horror.

Their contract requires them to kill 3 people but as they delve deeper into the lives of those they are meant to be killing, they are pulled into an unimaginable nightmare. With each target comes new information pulling our protagonists (if that’s what we call them) into a dark and seedy world. The building of cinematic tension is clear as the hitmen start to realise that they’re way over their heads.

Kill List will not be for everyone. However, I believe this is a film that really pays tribute to some of the greats while still remaining fresh and original. Some may say it is unbalanced and Wheatley doesn’t know what sort of film he is trying to make; a hitman thriller or a British folk horror. But we take the same journey as the hitmen, they don’t know what they’re getting into and the deeper they go, the more horrific it gets. We are just as surprised by what is unfolding before our eyes just as much as the hitmen. I thought this was beautifully done. 

So, if by some chance you haven’t checked out Ben Wheatley’s Kill List then I hope this article will make you go and hunt it down. 

There was another British indie horror film that is criminally unheard of called The Devil’s Business. This little gem is about two hitmen who lay in wait in a target’s home not realising that they may have broken into a home of a devil worshipper. I’ve been saying it for years, Kill List and The Devil’s Business makes an outstanding double-bill.

Anyway, that is it for Moviehooker’s Forgotten Greats No.2. Stay tuned for No.3.

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