Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kill List (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

Kill List

"Kill List" , the new film by  British animator Ben Wheatley is less of a horror film than a pastiche from other genuinely frightful pictures, specifically the original "The Wicker Man" (1973) and "The Blair Witch Project" in its overexposed cinematography.

In this film, the obstacle to genuine creepy thrills is that the characters of Jay (Neil Maskell) and Gal (Michael Smiley--yes that's his name ) are almost completely without any interest or heart of any kind. Jay is a humdrum sad sack who mumbles and complains of phantom back injuries. He is unemployed and unemployable, one guesses, probably because he is so utterly miserable. During the first fifteen minutes of the film, Jay is drunk  and abusive to those around him. This fact is further compounded by the fact that it is quite hard to understand the dialogue throughout the film. I found myself wishing for subtitles. 

Gal for his part is an exceptionally slimy individual. He actually seems dipped in oil. He sweats constantly. Gal is more Ratso than Dustin Hoffman in "Midnight Cowboy".  Gal is the most interesting of the two derelicts for his more soft spoken gallows humor but that is not saying much. I couldn't understand his dialogue either. What little humor "Kill List" does have, is contained in the moments with Gal and Jay together. They are best friends, apparently. One minute they hug each other and then they beat each other senseless over the most absurdist reasons. 

This is the film's saving grace, not that it is enough.

Jay and Gal are sociopaths. They are ex soldiers and want to make money again. They get mixed up in some sort of nameless mafia first and then some nameless cultists take over involving people that are difficult to look at and even more difficult to actually see.

This would be okay for a dark "Layer Cake" kind of film, but Jay is so faceless and cold that he has no dramatic nectar in his character. There is nothing to get excited about, be it in praise or negativity.

Jay and Gal go after other undesirables. There is a lascivious priest (original!) and a pornographer that become hideously hacked up, I think gratuitously so. This is not upsetting to me so much as disgusting to look at. Violence for violence sake serves no purpose. Jay is made up of rage and just becomes a terrible bore. Why is he even married? 

At the film's beginning there was a smidgen of apprehension ala "Rosemary's Baby" when Jay's guests arrive for dinner. The suspense was in the guessing of how creepy these people are going to be. After the first twenty minutes though, the initial anxieties are already dispelled.
Too much Magick is revealed at once. Ben, Ben, Try again! There are no numinous nuances at beginning or end!

Edward Woodward was so much more entertaining.

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