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File:220px-Kill-list-poster 936.jpg

Kill List is a 2011 British thriller/horror film directed by Ben Wheatley, starring Neil Maskell, Michael Smiley and MyAnna Buring.

Jay is a former soldier and sometime Professional Killer who's fallen on hard times. He hasn't worked since a disastrous job in Kiev eight months ago and his wife Shel is pressuring him to do something about their family's financial problems. So when Jay's best mate and business partner Gal tells him about a contract to assassinate a list of targets for a mysterious client, he reluctantly pulls himself out of retirement and takes the job. But it soon becomes clear that this isn't an ordinary hit list -- the client insists on Jay signing the contract in blood and his victims take the time to thank him before their deaths. It's clear that Jay and Gal have been dragged into something far bigger and more disturbing than they could possibly have imagined...


Tropes include: Edit

  • Action Girl: The movie firmly establishes Shel is a trained soldier, and we see it in action towards the end.
  • Arc Symbol: The symbol shown in the poster above. It's first seen at the very start of the film, is carved into the back of Jay's mirror by Fiona and is found by Gal on files in the librarian's safe. Eventually, it's revealed to be the symbol/logo of the cult.
  • Asshole Victim: Discussed. Jay is adamant that all the people on the list are bad people and deserve to die. Though we see this is true for the librarian, we can only infer that it's true for the others on the list.
  • The Bad Guys Win: It's not entirely clear what the cult wants, but they seem to come out of the film on top.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with a shot of the Arc Symbol mentioned above.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: After seeing the librarian's apparently horrific porn video, Jay decides to torture him before killing him just to make him suffer.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: The librarian's brutal death by hammer. Notably, this lacks a Gory Discretion Shot; we see it onscreen in all its bloody detail.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Kiev. We never find out what happened there, other than it left Jay physically and mentally scarred enough that he spent eight months out of work.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Jay's victims thanking him before their deaths. In addition, the librarian asks Jay if Gal "knows who he [Jay] is"; it's never made entirely clear what this is referring to.
  • Cult: The client and Fiona turn out to be part of one, and it's implied the targets are too. We don't learn exactly what they want or believe, but they seem to like death and sacrifice.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Jay and Gal try to escape the cultists in a darkened tunnel system. Gal doesn't make it out alive.
  • Dinner and a Show: Early on, Jay and his wife have an enormous fight in front of guests.
  • Don't Go in The Woods: Jay and Gal entering the woods near the MP's house signals the film's Genre Shift, and is where things really start going badly for them.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Gal's new girlfriend, Fiona, one of the first hints in the film that something is very, very wrong here.
  • Foreshadowing: Several seemingly innocuous events early in the film foreshadow events in the last act:
    • Jay and Gal's play fight after the dinner party becomes a real fight when their relationship's tested late in the film.
    • Jay finding the rabbit left with its entrails hanging out by the cats mirrors how he finds the wounded Gal in the tunnels.
    • Jay's play fight with Shel and Sammy foreshadows how he's forced to fight and kill them for real at the film's climax.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: Some of the cultists are completely naked when they attack Jay and Gal. It only serves to make them creepier.
  • Genre Shift: The first hour of the film is a very dark and creepy crime thriller. After this it moves much more firmly into horror territory.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: The film's basic premise. Jay and Gal are given the titular list and are paid to kill everyone on it.
  • Initiation Ceremony: Jay's fight with "the hunchback" (really Shel and Sammy) seems to serve as his involuntary initiation into the cult.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Jay has to deliver a Mercy Kill to Gal and is forced by the cult to fight Shel and Sammy, ending with him killing them both.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: The cultists.
  • Mercy Kill: After he's mortally wounded by one of the cultists, Jay has to put Gal out of his misery.
  • Mind Screw: The film's plotting is deliberately opaque and unclear, particularly regarding who's in the cult and what their motivations are. This has opened the film up to a lot of different interpretations.
  • Mysterious Employer: The client. Neither the characters or the audience ever learn his name and it's never made entirely clear what his agenda is.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Gal warns Jay that attacking the cultists is a bad idea. Jay does it anyway, with tragic consequences as it leads directly to the deaths of Gal, Shel and Sammy.
  • No Name Given: The names of the client and all of Jay and Gal's targets are never revealed.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: After Jay and Gal try to back out of the job late in the film, the client makes them one of these -- they finish the list or their families die.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Jay's treatment of the librarian is incredibly brutal, but unlike the others on the list it's made clear that he really deserves it.
  • Paedophile Priest: Discussed. The first target is a priest, and Jay wonders if this might be the reason he's on the list.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Gal acts as this, providing much needed light relief in what is a very dark film.
  • Professional Killer: Jay and Gal's profession. They definitely fall on the hitman side of the trope, as their work is portrayed as bleak and slightly seedy.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The porn on the librarian's computer provokes one of these in Jay. He goes "off-list" and tortures and kills the librarian in an exceptionally brutal way, then goes and murders all his associates too. Gal is visibly shocked by this.
  • Take Our Word for It: We (thankfully) don't get to see the librarian's porn video, but we know it was bad enough to provoke a very extreme reaction from Jay, leading to the deaths of everyone associated with it.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: To a point. Jay and Gal are close friends, but as the film progresses, the vitriol is sometimes not teasing on Jay's part.