Kill List (2011), 18, Director: Ben Wheatley

Ben Wheatley is doing great things for UK cinema and is a promising talent. Screen Scenes can't ignore the power of Sightseers; many have put it at the top of their 'films of 2012' list. Kill List, his second feature, also received the same praise last year. And, quite frankly, this is why we're a bit baffled. As we just didn't find Kill List THAT GOOD.
Filmed in Sheffield, Kill List follows two contract killers (former soldiers) who take one final job and things go spectacularly bad. Like, REALLY bad. We're talking The Wicker Man bad, with bits of The Descent and Blair Witch thrown in to try and shock and awe. And that's the main problem with Kill List. It tries so, so hard to be shocking, but it never quite pays off. Yes, we've got lots of very rude swearing, a vicious hammer attack and some mad shit happening at the end, yet it all feels too try hard and Act 3 is too hastily put together. Wheatley desperately wants us to be as affected by his ending as to what happens to Edward Woodward in The Wicker Man, but it lacks soul, it lacks connection, and we couldn't care less about his characters.
Neil Maskell plays lead contract killer Jay well, and there is a good connection with his partner in crime Gal (Michael Smiley), but they're too brutal, sweary and idiotic to feel any love for. Jay's scowling wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) is just an annoyance, rather than engaging any sympathy - especially needed for what comes later. Gal's girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer) is kooky rather than scary, and more could have been done with her character to terrify and to genuinely cause unease, leading up to her final scenes. Maybe, just then, we'd have been a little bit frightened.
If you want a British film which is disturbing and leaves you petrified, try James Watkins' Eden Lake. It's hardcore. Kill List doesn't come anywhere near it. We like Wheatley's style and direction, but Kill List is let down by weak dialogue, characters you can't warm to and its lack of pay-off in the supposed big shocks.
2/5 don't date any satanists/cult members