If horror movies have taught us anything, it’s that large groups of pagans with torches are not to be trifled with. Think back on it. The Wicker Man, The Last Exorcism, and Rosemary’s Baby (sans torches) all screamed one message loud and clear: “Keep your children away from people who get naked for rituals”, which is pretty sound advice. Kill List once again serves as a reminder that one aught to be wary when sigils begin appearing around the house, and job assignments turn culty. What makes this particular film stand out is it’s fantastic atmosphere and non-traditional pacing.
The first half of this movie’s plot is just what you’d expect based on the title. Two fellas are hired by a mysterious group of old rich men, to take out a few people on a list. We can feel pretty comfortable with the majority of the murder going on in this portion of the film, because it feels justified. Our vigilantes are taking out rapists and pedophiles, and they even seem like normal Joes as they’re completing the task; drowning their sorrows of financial trouble in booze, and fighting with their significant others only to quickly make up again. In fact, it is these problems that encourage our protagonist, Jay, to reluctantly take on this job to begin with, even though there are hints at a sordid past that leave him feeling conflicted about beginning to work in such a dark career path again after an eight month hiatus. Jay is a pretty sympathetic character overall, even whenever he is brutally smashing in his victims’ faces. He seems to genuinely love his family, and is part of a very convincing, warm and fuzzy bromance with his partner Gal. Unfortunately, we know early on that something is going to take a turn for the worst for Jay and Gal, when Gal’s beautiful but slightly off-putting girlfriend takes down a mirror in Jay’s bathroom and carves a pointy symbol onto the back. Personally, this made me think twice about all the times new acquaintances have used my restroom. One can expect a certain amount of medicine cabinet pilfering, but this movie has managed to put an uncomfortable new bend on the situation that will leave home owners wanting to check every inch of their home after visitors leave. (Great, a new thing to be paranoid about).
So, viewers will be content to watch Jay and Gal hand out justice, but will eventually find themselves unnerved with the sudden change in tone that accompanies where their last kill takes them: into the woods. Granted, there are some hints along the way that point to a pending run in with something more evil than your run-of-the mill pervert, but none so glaring that the reveal is still not enjoyable. So yes, some of you may see the ending coming, but the good news is that you’re still going to be okay with it. And, since this portion of the story only unfolds within the last half hour, you will have plenty of time to get comfortable with the characters and begin to wonder what will become of them. With a tense and appropriate score, some new Northern European faces, and some damn fine looking home-made masks, Kill List is a fine film with suspense leaking out of all of it’s orifices.