Kill List (Blu-ray) (2011)

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Released 11-Jan-2012

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Cast and Crew
Featurette-Making Of-(7.37)
Interviews-Cast & Crew-(24.31)
Trailer-Loved Ones, Monster
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2011
Running Time 95:00
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Ben Wheatley
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Neil Maskell
MyAnna Buring
Harry Simpson
Michael Smiley
Emma Fryer
Struan Rodger
Esme Folley
Ben Crompton
Gemma Lise Thornton
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $39.95 Music Jim Williams


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (2304Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Linear PCM 48/24 2.0 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Reviewing Kill List from British director Ben Wheatley is a difficult task. One of the great joys of this disturbing and creepy psychological horror film is that the viewer is constantly left in the dark, literally and metaphorically, not knowing where the story is going to end up. In fact, it is possible to almost divide the film into thirds-the first third being a domestic drama, the second a violent mystery and the third an all-out creep fest. What can be said is that Wheatley's film is original and compelling and will be enjoyed by those who like their psychological thrillers overlaid with horror.

     Avoiding spoilers is extremely difficult. Here is the set up. Jay (Neil Maskell) and his wife Shel (MyAnna Buring) are a married couple with a young son. Things aren't going well between the pair. When we first meet them they are in the midst of a heated argument. The subject of the dispute is money and we suspect that this is not the first time they have quarrelled on this point. Jay hasn't worked for eight months blaming it on a bad back and now the money has run out. Shel invites Jay's friend Gal (Michael Smiley) over for dinner. Gal brings a date, his new girlfriend Fiona (Emma Fryer) a human resources manager. The evening goes terribly when Jay smashes the plates off the table. The dinner was no coincidence. Jay and Gal had a working relationship since the two retired from the Army. They are hit men and it turns out there is another job coming up. Jay isn't so sure that he wants to go back into this world, an unspecified problem in Kiev has rocked him psychologically. Financially, however, he has no choice. Meeting their elderly and creepy client in a hotel Jay and Gal are given a kill list of three names. There is something odd about the targets and something even odder starts to happen when they go about their business. As the film progresses the pair are thrown deeper and deeper into a confusing and disturbing environment where their sanity and lives are on the line.

     To say any more about Kill List would be to deprive it of its genuinely unsettling story line. The Blu-ray case for the film refers to The Wicker Man (not the Nicolas Cage version!) But it just as well may have accessed the creepy psychological games of John Fowles’ novel The Magus; both involve characters involved in dark occult rituals. Kill List is well directed and unsettling throughout. Although fans of the slow burn psychological thriller will enjoy the film it must be said that there are moments of appalling violence which are not for the squeamish.

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Transfer Quality

Video

     Kill List was shot using the RED One camera and was projected at the cinema at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This Blu-ray release is consistent with that aspect ratio.

     The film looks extremely crisp and clear throughout. There is no evidence of any technical defects. The colour palette is wide however the overall look of the film is subdued and somewhat chilled. The flesh tones are accurate.

     It is hard to see what is going on in the night scenes, such is the inky blackness, but this seems to be the directorial intention, leaving us confused and uncertain as to the fate of the characters.

    There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired

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Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Kill List carries several audio tracks. Two of the tracks are devoted to audio commentaries.

     The prime audio track is an English DTS-HD Master 5.1 but there is also a very serviceable LPCM Stereo English 2.0 track. Dialogue is generally clear although the characters have accents which makes it hard to pick up the dialogue particularly during the drunken raves!

     This is not a film where the director relies upon the audio track to create scares. There are no sudden noises from the rear channels. However there is a general creepy ambience throughout which is well carried across the surround track.

     The director uses the music and soundscape to great effect and the sound design of Martin Pavey and the score of Jim Williams are both commendable, with the music becoming more atonal and dissolving into chants and weird sounds towards the conclusion of the film.

     The sub-woofer is used effectively from time to time however it must be said that the LPCM track is almost as good as the DTS HD Master audio track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     There are a number of extras on this Blu-ray release.

Audio commentary -Actors and Director

     Two audio commentaries are included on the Blu-ray. The first is by the director Ben Wheatley and his wife and co-script writer Amy Jump. This commentary delves into the background to the production as well as the challenges of putting together a low budget psychological horror film. In one of the other extras the director talks about the special relationship, professionally speaking, he has with his wife when they collaborate on a script. This is immediately apparent at the start of the commentary track when Amy lets us all know how much she hates the opening "Blair Witch" style iconography. A short argument ensues!

     The second commentary track features actors Neil Maskell, MyAnna Buring and Michael Smiley. This is an altogether lighter affair. There are giggles throughout as the cast reminisce about the making of the film. Importantly, the internal motivations in the key moments of the film are kept secret so that we are none the wiser as to the meaning of some scenes.

Interviews Cast and Crew

     The key players are interviewed at reasonable length about the film and their involvement. Interviews are as follows: Ben Wheatley (6:27), Neil Maskell/MyAnna Buring (10:23), Claire Jones and Andy Starke-Producers (7:41). The interviews are worth watching although some of the material is repeated in the audio commentary.

     Interestingly, Wheatley discusses the role of violence in the film particularly the key scene involving The Librarian. He deliberately focused on the violence in order to involve the audience as a participant.

Making of Kill List (7.37)

     This featurette is more of an on-set diary. We see the background to some of the key scenes and the opening segment is a camera test. An interesting insight into some of the special effects used in creating the scenes of violence.

Theatrical trailer

     The trailer for the film.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This is a Region 2 Blu-ray. It has not been released in Region 1 as yet. Buy local.

Summary

     Kill List is a disturbing psychological thriller with definite horror elements. The film changes as it progresses leaving the viewer continually destabilised.

     The Blu-ray is of high quality both in sound and vision in terms.

     The extras are extensive and interesting.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Friday, March 16, 2012
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge 650BD (All Regions), using HDMI output
DisplaySony VPL-VW80 Projector on 110" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC-LX 81 7.1
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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