Down to the piano wire kids. It’s been a fun, but challenging month. Some of my picks where somewhat interchangeable, but my final three are firm. And by further analysis of my full list, it’s clear that what scares me most is the failing mind and the horror that can come out of it. My top three are all films about the fragility of the human psyche and what can happen when the horrors, real or not, shatters dreams and treads on hope. Horror is real, as real as the mind allows. There’s nothing more terrifying than that.
#3 Kill List (2011)
With all the documentaries I’ve watched about soldiers and PTSD, war can ravage the mind and the ability to cope with the simplest things can become challenging at a minimum. Compound that with something really horrible and watch the mind break wide open.
Kill List is a story of a man, back from the Iraq where he served in a private security service, who attempts to keep the struggles with ‘normal life’ at bay. His marriage is complicated, his attempt at fatherhood is challenged by his own inability to grow up and accept responsibility. A nagging war wound hinders him from working so in order to provide, he and his best friend and war buddy accept a series of hits for a mysterious and discreet client. When they uncover that things aren’t as they seem, his sanity begins to unravel and it becomes impossible to contain the terrible realization that war-torn Iraq was probably the safest and most sane place on earth.
Kill List is English auteur, Ben Wheatley’s first feature film and it’s astonishing. The level of authenticity is chilling and made all the more realistic through its journalistic handheld camera work that never shies away from the domestic battles or very, very brutal violence. This authenticity is reinforced by some of the best acting I’ve ever seen. Neil Maskell and MyAnna Buring star as Jay and Shel, the husband and wife trying to find order after the war. Their portrayal of marriage on the edge of collapse is breathtaking. But Michael Smiley steals the show. He’s fantastic as Gal, the best friend caught between saving Jay’s marriage, his sanity and his life. The actors are allowed to riff off each other and Wheatley lets them go as far as they need to. And they go far. It’s brilliant stuff.
Kill List is messed up and takes you into a darkness that you never saw yourself going. Like, Jay, your mind will suffer from the experience. At least we know things like this only exist in the movies. Right?
Check out the trailer below and come back tomorrow to see my #2.