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Kill List (2012)

tomatometer

76

Average Rating: 7.1/10
Reviews Counted: 83
Fresh: 63 | Rotten: 20

Kill List is an expertly executed slow-burn crime thriller that thrives on tension before morphing into visceral horror.

73

Average Rating: 6.7/10
Critic Reviews: 22
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 6

Kill List is an expertly executed slow-burn crime thriller that thrives on tension before morphing into visceral horror.

audience

57

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 7,951

My Rating

Movie Info

From director Ben Wheatley, Kill List is a mind-blowing genre concoction being called the "#1 Horror Film of the Year" (Bloody-Disgusting). A brilliant blend of family drama, hitman action-thriller and terrifying psychological horror film, Kill List tells the story of an ex-soldier turned contract killer who is plunged into the heart of human darkness. Eight months after a disastrous hit job in Kiev left him physically and mentally scarred, Jay (Neil Maskell) is pressured by his partner Gal

Unrated,

Mystery & Suspense, Horror

Ben Wheatley, Amy Jump

Aug 14, 2012

$26.3k

IFC Films - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (83) | Top Critics (22) | Fresh (63) | Rotten (20) | DVD (2)

Displaying both a nasty edge and a playful sense of humor -- but thankfully, never at the same time -- Brit import Kill List is several cuts above its fellow midbudget horror brethren.

January 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

When it's all over, audiences are sent reeling out of the theater with heads spinning and guts churning.

January 8, 2013 Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly
L.A. Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Deeply edgy, gory crime film maintains perfectly calibrated tension before dropping a bombshell that will be too much for some viewers.

January 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Hollywood Reporter
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One of the scariest films I've seen in ages, although I cannot in all honesty explain exactly what the movie is about.

April 11, 2012 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Kill List" has a slow build, but don't be lulled into complacency. This is one of the most violent and disturbing films you'll see in an art house.

March 15, 2012 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Wheatly aims for something like moral complexity by having one of the killers believe in God and the other aspire to be a good husband and father, but once the graphic violence starts, it upstages everything else.

March 15, 2012 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Kill List is bravura filmmaking - an impeccable guide on how to build tension and character without sacrificing story.

September 28, 2012 Full Review Source: TheShiznit.co.uk
TheShiznit.co.uk

Kill List is a tremendous film that features a nerve shredding climax that shook me to the core, skilfully edited and cruelly turning the tables on the main characters in ways you never expected.

September 24, 2012 Full Review Source: We Got This Covered
We Got This Covered

A moody, scary, often exceptional film that tries so hard to keep the viewer at a distance that it actually succeeds too well.

August 22, 2012 Full Review Source: CraveOnline
CraveOnline

Martin Pavey's sound design is so unnerving it scared the bejeezus out of our cats...

August 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Reeling Reviews | Comment (1)
Reeling Reviews

It's a bit of a slow starter, but once it gets going, Kill List achieves a steady, nail-gnawing intensity and unpredictability.

April 20, 2012 Full Review Source: Times-Picayune
Times-Picayune

Wheatley's sui generis sophomore effort confirms him as a weasel to watch under the cocktail cabinet for.

March 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Irish Times
Irish Times

It just barely works for me by virtue of its audacity but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't do the same for you.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: HollywoodChicago.com
HollywoodChicago.com

Ben Wheatley might one day make a film of interest as long as he nails down a few particulars before heading to the set.

March 16, 2012 Full Review Source: eFilmCritic.com
eFilmCritic.com

Although Kill List is a dark and creepy film, it is also very funny at times.

March 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

Following up his impressive debut, Down Terrace, Ben Wheatley's Yorkshire-based crime thriller swerves with abrupt satisfaction into horror in its final moments.

March 3, 2012 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

‎While it's screaming in your face, it's also quietly creeping up behind you.

March 1, 2012 Full Review Source: Portland Mercury

Audience Reviews for Kill List

"Kill List" is really a tale of two films. The first is a mysterious hitman story that grows increasingly spastic up until a violent last act twist, and the second is, from the ground up, a self indulgent experiment in manipulating an audience. The writer/ director is Ben Wheatley, and there's no doubt he has had a hell of a time toying with us. I just didn't have nearly as much fun watching it.

Wheatley sets up his story as an impressively acted kitchen-sink drama. It's slow in the beginning, and does a great job establishing it's characters. I was instantly drawn to these people, especially Jay and Gal (the two leads played by Neil Maskell, a great screen presence, and Michael Smiley). We soon learn (rather vaguely) that they are Hitmen, and that Jay has been left emotionally and physically broken from the last job he pulled 8 months back in Kiev. He hasn't "worked" since, but Gal persuades him to take on a high profile job... to complete a contract that will entail clipping a Priest, a Librarian, and lastly a member of parliament. They carry out their deeds with shocking brutality, as Jay becomes increasingly unhinged.

"Kill List" does a terrific job at upping the intensity at a smooth, subtle pace, and Wheatley nails the tone. Even when "Kill List" eludes that it's only a crime drama, the atmosphere is a constant whisper that something is not quite right. Through sound and nuggets of surreal Lynchianisms... "Kill List" becomes an otherworldly mystery, and we are baffled. Scenes like that of the Hit List being signed in the blood of a deep cut and Jay's visit to his family doctor are stark, disturbing reminders.

But then there is the final act twist, at which point "Kill List" becomes what it was always building too; a horror film. That isn't spoiling anything though, since pretty much anything you've already read or have seen on the film has given away it's genre-bending nature. Unfortunately it's here where the film fell apart for me. The finale isn't a devious turn of events or a shocking twist, but rather something that just happens for the sake of it. The movie leading up to this freakshow was an oddity sure, but a developed one with great characters and promise. I felt cheated. "Kill List" fails as a horror movie in the end because it was only scary before it tried to be. The horror scenes are half baked and instead of going for the throat seem content playing almost as homage. "The Wicker Man," "A Serbian Film," and 28 Days Later" came instantly to mind. Did I mention it wasn't scary?

Since all of this tomfoolery does away with coherence (the little there already was) and the established film that I really liked... "Kill List" stands as well made, scatter-shot nonsense that is made more frustrating because of it's expertly crafted build up. Maybe if I'd gone in blind it would have shocked and surprised me? This movie has it's admirers. I'm guessing the cat wasn't yet out of the bag.
November 21, 2013
YLOWBSTARDreturns

Super Reviewer

What should be noted about Kill List above all else is how great the cast is. Every cast member gives a full out perfect representation of their character and the movie is better for it. Also, the direction and writing is solid. This isn't a typical hit man story that moves quickly and is overly obsessed with keeping the audience engaged. It's slow moving, patient, and when the pay off finally does come; it's shocking. Kill List was a movie I was very excited to watch. I had heard good things about it, but knew very little about the story going into it. 

An out of work hit man and his friend take a job. Their job is to kill three men, and what starts off as just another standard job turns quickly. That's as much as I'll say about the plot because I truly believe that this is one of those movies where the less you know, the better. 

I didn't quite love this as much as I expected to after the first half hour or so, but it was nonetheless a well made, atmospheric, engaging film with terrific performances and great, timely shifts in the plot. It's well worth a look and I think with another viewing, I'll like this even more than I did the first time around.
June 15, 2013
blkbomb
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

One of those great films that really does take you by surprise. The film centres on a hitman undertaking one last job. Nothing new there, but it's the general atmosphere that makes this a true original. It seems like a British drama at times, with brilliant dialogue for which the cast are credited for in the closing credits. Their improv is certainly recognisable as they play off each other so well. Not only that, but there are bizarre horror elements that creep their way in to the film. Such as a black cat eating off the table with an eerie soundtrack playing. It's horror, it's a thriller, it's a drama, and it's bloody excellent. Maskell gives a powerful performance of pure ferocity. Smiley is a great counterpart and you can feel the bond between the two. Not to be missed, because even if you don't like it, it should give you an interesting experience.
January 5, 2013
kiriyamakazou

Super Reviewer

A good, if slightly confusing film. First two acts play like a british gangster movie, the third act goes off into a horror tangent. Thrilling but disjointed!!!
August 4, 2012
Graham Willis

Super Reviewer

    1. Jay: One, two, three.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
    1. Jay: They should suffer.
    – Submitted by Chris P (2 years ago)
View all quotes (2)

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