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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column 3.18.13 Issue #249: Kill List (2011)
Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz on 03.18.2013

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #: Kill List (2011)

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that really hates unforeseen circumstances, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number two hundred and forty-nine, I take a look at the much ballyhooed British crime-horror flick from 2011, Kill List, directed and co-written by Ben Wheatley.

Kill List (2011)

Kill List is one of those heralded modern horror movies that, upon actually viewing it, doesn't quite live up to its reputation but is still worth checking out anyway. It starts out as a pretty engrossing hitman crime movie and then, in the last twenty minutes or so, morphs into a weird beard, creepy-as-all-hooha horror flick. I'm not quite sure I fully understand the need for the sudden genre shift at the end, but then I guess the "shock" of that change is what director Wheatley and co-writer Amy Jump were going for all along. I actually kind of wish that the genre shift didn't happen and the darkness of the main character's jobs was allowed to destroy them as opposed to something else.

The movie stars Neil Maskell as Jay, a professional hitman and devout family man with serious money issues. When he isn't arguing with his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) over the family's financial problems, he's suffering through a kind of shell shock that helps to make his life generally unbearable. After holding a disastrous dinner party with his old army pal and fellow professional hitman Gal (Michael Smiley) and his somewhat attractive new weird beard girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer), Jay decides to team up with Gal on a new job involving a weird beard client (Struan Rodger) that needs three people killed. Jay figures that if he can complete this job his family's money problems will be over. So Jay and Gal get to work.

Jay and Gal's first target is a priest. Dispatching the priest (Gareth Tunley) is fairly easy. The second target, a mysterious man who, upon further investigation, turns out to be in the kiddie porn business, isn't easy at all. The porn merchant could have been an easy target, but Jay, justifiably outraged by what the merchant represents, decides to torture the man to find out more about the local kiddie porn business. Gal, somewhat annoyed by the sudden lack of professionalism displayed by Jay, goes along with the torture scheme because he can't rightly overlook what the merchant represents, either. In easily the most unsettling sequence in the movie, Jay breaks the merchant's fingers with a hammer, and then bashes the back of the man's head in (the first blow to the back of the head is one of the nastiest gore moments in recent movie history). It's at this point in the movie that the mood of the piece changes and everything starts to feel weird.

Now, by "weird" I mean the movie stops being a hitman movie and becomes a straight on horror movie. All of the weird moments that happened in the first part of the movie, like Fiona drawing a symbol on the back of the mirror in Jay's bathroom, the scene where the Client cuts Jay's hand and he is forced to, in essence, sign a blood oath, and the slow motion brawl in the backyard featuring Jay, Shel, and their son Sam (Harry Simpson) all suddenly become a different kind of weird. There's something else clearly going on, something sinister and evil and downright awful. But what's the point of the shift outside of making the audience feel uncomfortable?

I wish I knew. I also wish I knew if the something sinister that's guiding the story actually has the power that it seems to have. Am I supposed to believe that the Client has the ability to, essentially, make things happen, or is this story meant to be the lucky culmination of a series of coincidences? I mean, is Jay guided to the movie's conclusion by a sort of unseen hand, or is the ending inevitable based on what Jay experienced in the Army, his job as a hitman, and with his family?

And then there's the ending. What is the deal with that last image, with Jay being "crowned king?" What, exactly, is he becoming king of?

As I said earlier, I think the movie would have been more successful if it stuck with the nastiness of the world that Jay and Gal live in and didn't delve into the weird world of whatever the hell is going on in the last section. There are several great scenes where Jay and Gal, and earlier Jay and Shel, just talk, providing suspense for the next bit of nastiness that Jay and Gal have to engage in. Maskell and Smiley are excellent as Jay and Gal. You completely believe in their friendship forged in the armed services (you know their brawl later in the movie is just blowing off steam and not the end of their friendship. And their final scene together, in the tunnel, is heartbreaking eventhough you really can't tell what the hell is going on). Maskell also has tremendous chemistry with Buring. They fight like a real married couple. It's a little disconcerting that Buring's Shel is okay with her husband's chosen profession, but then that broken Jacuzzi in the yard is annoying. I can understand why she really wants him to make more money.

Am I the only person who had a hard time understanding what the hell everyone was saying most of the time? It almost seemed like the microphones used to record the characters' voices were deliberately placed in an adjacent room so they could only record every third and fourth world clearly. Should I check this movie out again and use the DVD's subtitle option and watch it like a foreign language movie? Will I suddenly understand what the movie is about by "reading" it while watching it?

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't want it to sound like I'm bashing Kill List. I don't think it's all that successful, but it's still a worthwhile effort from all involved. It's a movie you should absolutely see. Just don't expect to be blown away by it. It's a little too weird for its own good.

See Kill List. See it, see it, see it. And then tell me what you think it's really about. I would really like to know if I'm missing something.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 5+

Explosions: None. It's not that kind of movie.

Nudity?: There's a little at the end. It's gross.

Doobage: A weird symbol, an argument about money, a potential back problem, an outdoor Jacuzzi, a windmill for producing electricity (maybe), shaving, back slapping, stool spinning, a domestic argument, foam sword fighting, some mild misogyny, some weird looking meat, a long dinner conversation, a pitcher of blood gravy, violent tablecloth removal, a black cat, a garage hideaway, smoking, a machine gun, slow dancing, symbol making, nose holding, a dead rabbit, rabbit eating, dart throwing, hand slicing, a blood oath, very gross hand washing, bandage cleaning, monkey play, a declined credit card, a nice hotel room, a douchebag with a guitar, pillow fixing, gun cleaning, a priest that smokes, a priest putting candles out with his fingers, bullet to the head, dead body throwing, dumpster hitting, a giant furnace, a video chat, kiddie porn hooey, chair bondage, cigarette torture, money stealing, kneecap smashing, hand smashing, back of the head smashing, a juice box, a dead dog, body burning in a field, an infected hand wound, socialized medicine, a dead cat, face slapping, coffee mug over the head, a friendly brawl, rabbit hunting, rabbit gutting, a goofy "bunny" song, a weird forest cult, a human sacrifice, clapping, machine gun attack, a weird tunnel, shotgun hooey, gut spilling, a knife wielding hunchback, more clapping, and a straw crown.

Kim Richards?: Oh yeah.

Gratuitous: An argument about money, a Jacuzzi, shaving, back slapping, dinner eating, a garage hideaway, slow dancing, symbol making, dart throwing, hand slicing, very gross hand washing, a declined credit card, born again Christian hooey, priest killing, body disposal, kiddie porn hooey, cigarette torture, hammer smashing, a juice box, taking pills with booze, "King Arthur," rabbit hunting, rabbit gutting, rabbit eating, a goofy "bunny" song, a forest cult, a human sacrifice, clapping, gut spilling, a knife wielding hunchback, more clapping, and a straw crown.

Best lines: "It is all gone!," "Money's good. Money's really good, Jay," "Sorry. Oh, don't be silly," "A good one last night, wasn't it?," "I like this car," "It's important to learn from one's mistakes," "That was dramatic. I'm bleeding on the carpet," "Ugh. Is that your wanking hand?," "My name's Richard. My friends call me Dick," "You're giving me indigestion," "Sometimes God's love can be hard to swallow. God loves you," "Just for the record I've hardly done any terrible shit," "I'm just a librarian," "Before he comes back, I just want to say thank you," "Oh, for fuck's sake," "Brilliant. Fucking brilliant," "Your asshole is gone, gov," and "What the fuck do you mean by reconstruction?"

Rating: 7.5/10.0


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Facebook Page!

Please check out The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page, which can be seen here. There's not much there at the moment, but, as time goes by, expect to see daily questions and musings and other B-movie hooey. And it would be cool if you "liked" it, too.

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Facebook page! Yeah!


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 1

- The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: I, sadly, missed this in theatres (I really wanted to see it in 48 frames per second, just to see if it was as weird as some people said it was). I'll have no excuse for missing it now. And I'll have to make a serious, serious effort to see the second one in December.

- Timerider: The Adventure of Lyle Swan: I saw this movie about twenty years ago and, shockingly, don't remember a goddamn thing about it outside of the fact that the great Fred Ward stars in it. Anyone out there remember this movie? Anyone at all?

- Cyclone/Alienator/Eye of the Tiger/Exterminator 2 4 pack: I have seen two of the four movies on this disc, Eye of the Tiger (Gary Busey, Yaphet Kotto, and William goddamn Smith) and Exterminator 2. They're both excellent B-movies (Exterminator 2 is a tad slow at times and doesn't make much sense but it's still fun, and Eye of the Tiger is batshit insane. Gary Busey has a pickup truck in it that shoots grenades out the back!). I haven't seen either Cyclone or Alienator, but I look forward to seeing them. Hopefully this disc does well and the fine folks at Shout! Factory will give each movie its own special edition DVD. I'd love to see a featurette on the creation of the garbage truck death machine from Exterminator 2.

- Alien Invasion: Are You Ready?: This fabulous Discovery Channel documentary, hosted by the uber hot Michelle Rodriguez, features a massive discussion on what a real alien invasion of Earth would be like. Scientists and other experts go into great detail on how it would likely go down and, well, it's scary, depressing (we wouldn't stand a chance!), and thought provoking. If you missed this when it first aired back in 2011, here's your chance to check it out. You won't be disappointed.

- Father Dowling Mysteries: The 3rd and Final Season: It's the third and final season of the great detective show starring Tom Bosley as a crime solving priest. That fact alone should make it required viewing. Tom Bosley as a crime solving priest? One of the greatest ideas in TV history.


TV Quick Hits

- MSNBC moving Chris Hayes to weeknights at 8pm thoughts: I like Chris Hayes. He's shown himself to be a decent political talk show host with the weekend Up with Chris Hayes program and his various guest host fill ins for Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell, and the man he is now replacing full time, Ed Schultz. He's smart, he's funny, and he knows how to conduct an on-air interview and lead a roundtable discussion, all wonderful attributes for a political talk show host. But I think MSNBC is making a mistake with moving Hayes to 8pm.

Why? Because outside of getting Keith Olbermann back, the only person capable of making a real splash at 8pm weeknights is the current host of the 4pm hour, Martin Bashir, and that's exactly what MSNBC needs. A splash. Some juice. Some buzz.

Bashir, the former BBC journalist and Nightline anchor, rips the right wing world a new one at 4pm every single day. He doesn't allow them to get away with anything. He's also incredibly funny in a sarcastic non-threatening kind of way. It's that kind of attitude that could give the 8pm hour a jump and make it even more of a must see than it was with Ed Schultz (I've loved his show since he started at MSNBC back in 2009 and am curious to see what his new weekend show is going to be. Will it be a two hour version of the show he just did, or will it be more free form?).

But, I guess, 8pm is now the domain of Chris Hayes. I guess I should be happy that MSNBC didn't give 8pm to frequent on-air guest and fill-in host Ezra Klein. Klein is a good guest, but a permanent show host? Not yet. He needs practice first. Lots and lots of practice.

- Golden Boy thoughts: This new CBS cop show is way too complicated for its own good. Instead of doing a nifty buddy cop show about a brash young homicide detective (Theo James) and a grizzled veteran detective close to retirement (the great Chi McBride), Golden Boy is a "flashback" show where we see the James character in the future as the youngest police commissioner on New York City history and then what James did when he was a young homicide detective. The "young detective" stuff is pretty good, mostly because of McBride, one of the best actors on TV (he rocked on Human Target). But the "future" stuff is just garbage. I'd much rather see McBride "school" James on the finer points of being a detective and James make mistake after mistake. Why should I care about the future?

Am I the only one who thinks this show needs to be retooled and revamped just a bit? Am I the only one who thinks McBride is getting the short end of the stick here with this show?


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Theme of the Week



Have you ever watched The Monster Channel?

The Monster Channel is the internet's "first 24/7 interactive horror movie channel, featuring classic horror movies and TV series, retro trailers and commercials, features hosted by the nation's new generation of horror hosts and you!" (taken directly from its website). You can watch and chat with fellow horror nerds from all over the world, or just watch the channel's streaming programming, or just chat. You know, whatever you want to do.

Just go here to check out what the channel has to offer. I watch it whenever I can, and you should, too.

Watch The Monster Channel! Yeah!


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column B-Movie Babe of the Week: Lucy Liu


Things to Watch Out For This Week: Part 2

- Rise of the Guardians: I didn't think I would like this, as the trailers were kind of lame and it seemed like a weird beard mash up of the previous nine thousand cartoons featuring "updated" or "re-imagined" legendary figures. But the movie's weirdness actually works for it, and it's way better than it has any right to be.

- The Blob: Criterion Collection: Any time the Criterion people put out a DVD it's a must buy, and a Criterion Collection DVD of the original The Blob is an absolute must buy. The Blob, starring Steve McQueen, is a blast from start to finish. I'm still freaked out by that movie theatre attack scene. If you haven't seen this movie, well, you need to see it pronto. Get on it now.

- Spiders: I believe this movie recently received some kind of limited theatrical run in 3D. I know Fangoria was all about it a few weeks ago. Patrick Muldoon is in it, and the trailer below is pretty cool. Easily worth a rental, just to see if it's as cool as it seems to be.

- The Taint: Yet another absolutely ridiculous release from the fine folks at Troma. The Taint looks absolutely insane. Anyone out there see this yet?

- Storage 24: Yet another fabulous looking British horror flick about aliens or something. I think this, too, got some kind of limited theatrical run here in the United States. You may have already seen it. I know I haven't. I want to see it and see it soon. Hopefully it's as worthwhile as it looks.


And now, a moment of Joe Bob


The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week

This week, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Douchebag of the Week goes to Ted Cruz, the freshman Republican U.S. Senator from Texas, for attempting to "school" fellow Senator Diane Feinstein on the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution at a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun control. You probably saw it on TV in some form last Thursday. I saw it on Rachel Maddow's show.

Who, exactly, is impressed by Senator Cruz's incredibly arrogant demeanor? Is this why Texas voters sent him to Washington? Even if he has a valid question, why is it drenched in such absolute contempt? Isn't this the kind of thing the ultra right wing loons detest when it comes from comedian Bill Maher?

Oh, but Senator Cruz is fighting for the right of the people to own guns just in case... there's a zombie outbreak? The Russians invade? Michael Moore becomes dictator-for-life somehow? Again, is this why Texas sent him to the Senate?


And then there's Douchebag Hall of Famer Bill O'Reilly, for his recent blow up on alleged liberal Alan Colmes on O'Reilly's show. I know that O'Reilly claims that he freaked out on Colmes because he was upset that no one else was upset about how President Obama wants to destroy the Republican Party and the U.S. economy, but that sounds like bullshit. Lawrence O'Donnell, of MSNBC fame, did a hilarious segment on this incident. Here, watch:

Isn't it time the world stopped treating O'Reilly as a serious person? I think it is.

And finally there's the Papal Conclave, for failing to elect Father Guido Sarduci as the next pope. Instead of electing someone who could bring real change to the Catholic Church, the Conclave elected a guy from Argentina, a guy who almost became pope the last time the Conclave had to vote for a pope. I'm sure the new pope, Francis, is a nice man and all (he apparently likes to ride the bus and pay his own hotel bill), but is he going to be a real change agent for the Church?

You blew it, guys. You had a chance to really shake things up, but you decided not to. For shame. For shame.


NASCAR and Indycar thoughts

I completely missed the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at Las Vegas, so it was nice to be able to watch at least one of the races at Bristol this past weekend. I saw the Sprint Cup race on Sunday (I only got to see highlights from Saturday's Nationwide race, which Kyle Busch won). Everyone was curious as to how the new Gen 6 car would work in race conditions on a half-mile short track. Would it help the drivers create an "old Bristol" race, chock full of bumping and banging and rubbin' and whatnot, or would it be a follow-the-leader affair? Would the cars be able to create a third groove up towards the wall?

I watched the race from start to finish. I remember the first part of the race, and the last one hundred laps or so. I don't remember the middle part of the race at all. I do remember Matt Kenseth, who won at Las Vegas, running up front, but beyond that I don't remember a damn thing. Kasey Kahne ended up winning the race, holding off Kyle Busch by a considerable margin. 2012 Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin both had strong cars and looked like they would be in the thick of things at the end. Keselowski ended up finishing third, after Hamlin slammed into him on a restart, upsetting Keselowski's car and causing a massive back up in traffic. Hamlin finished 23rd after breaking something in the front of his car and then limping around the extreme high side of the track. Keselowski's Team Penske teammate Joey Logano had words with Hamlin in the pits after the race, as Logano didn't appreciate getting dumped into the wall earlier in the race.

AJ Allmendinger, who is officially signed to race for Roger Penske's Indycar team at Barber Motorsports Park and Indianapolis, did a good job in the Phoenix Racing #51, finishing 13th. Kurt Busch finished 4th in the #78. And how about Brian Vickers, putting in yet another solid effort at Bristol (he finished 8th)? If and when Mark Martin decides to retire, will Michael Waltrip give Vickers a full time Cup seat?

Danica Patrick managed to finish 28th, five laps down. She didn't wreck, so at least she was able to do that (she really needs to "get up on the wheel" a little more and make that car go faster. If she doesn't learn how to do that she's screwed). What the heck happened to Juan Pablo Montoya? Why can't he catch a goddamn break? He's faster than he was last year, but why can't he finish?

Now, the Gen 6 car didn't seem to offer up anything all that different from the Car of Tomorrow in terms of on track action. There were tire issues throughout the field, but I'm not sure if that was a Goodyear thing or if the tire failures had anything to do with the car. The night race in August will probably be a better race, as the teams should have the new cars completely figured out by then.

I do think it's high time for NASCAR to consider turning the spring Bristol race into a double header (two races in one day, like Indycar did at Texas a few years ago) or lose about two hundred laps. 500 laps is just too long at the moment.

California is up next for both the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series. The Cup race on Sunday doesn't start until 2:30 pm EST. I'll probably be able to see that, at least that's the hope.

Over in Indycar, excitement is building for the season opener this Sunday on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. Around twenty-four cars are expected to take the green flag Sunday afternoon, and based on the testing and practice sessions at Sebring, Sonoma, and Alabama, it sounds like Team Penske's Will Power is going to be the driver to beat. No one else seems to be close.

Of course, everything could change once the cars take to the "track." The Honda cars, like the Ganassi cars or Takuma Sato or even Simon Pagenaud, could show up and beat back the Penske Chevy team or the Andretti Chevy outfit. It will be interesting to see if there's as much passing and back-and-forth throughout the field this year as there was last year, or if it will be "business as usual" with the big teams running rampant over the field. I have a feeling that, with six months to figure the cars out, that the big teams will be back in the dominating business and the "smaller" teams will have to fight it out over the scraps at the back of the pack. I hope it doesn't turn out that way, but, again, Penske, Ganassi, and Andretti had six months to spend money to gain an advantage. They no doubt did that.

Graham Rahal, driving for his father this year, apparently wants to race in the NASCAR Nationwide race at Mid-Ohio this year. Rahal, who claims that he wants to compete in the race because Mid-Ohio is his home track, could be testing the waters to see if NASCAR is a good fit for him if Indycar folds. Graham's chance at F1 is long over, and since there's no real money in sports car racing, NASCAR is Graham's only real shot at making money in racing. Real money. But who the heck will have him?

NBC Sports Network will air the Indycar 2013 season opener starting at, I assume, noon. The race itself is set to start at 12:30pm est according to Indycar's website. I abhor street racing, but it'll be nice to have the Indycar Series back. Indy is only two months away.

And, oh wow. Indycar at 12:30pm and Sprint Cup at 2:30pm. That's a full day. A very full day.


Well, I think that'll be about it for this issue. B-movies rule, always remember that.

If there's anything you want to see reviewed here in this column, feel free to offer a comment below or send me an e-mail. I'm always on the lookout for new stuff to watch.

And don't forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

Kill List

Neil Maskell- Jay
MyAnna Buring- Shel
Michael Smiley- Gal
Harry Simpson- Sam
Emma Fryer- Fiona
Struan Rodger- The Client
Gareth Tunley- The Priest
Mark Kempner- The Librarian

Directed by Ben Wheatley
Screenplay by Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley

Distributed by IFC Films and IFC Midnight

Not Rated
Runtime- 95 minutes

Buy it here


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