If You Only Watch One Horror Film This… Lifetime

Posted: February 24, 2019 in Films
Tags: , , , , , ,


Somebody once wrote, ‘Hell is the impossibility of reason.’

– Oliver Stone

The above quote, ironically enough, makes perfect sense, at least in the context of a horror film. Surely horror in its purest, undiluted form would indeed be the projection of the horrific, the monstrous, the irrevocably disturbing with no comprehensible meaning or corresponding logic: it’s what we don’t understand, see, or hear that terrifies us the most.

Forget your cheap jump scares and sustained gore; in 2011, indie director Ben Wheatley brought to us Kill List – in my humble opinion, the most effectively disturbing and important British horror film since Robin Hardy’s classic The Wicker Man (1973).  The aforementioned classic, depicting Edward Woodward’s by the book police officer investigating the report of a missing child in Christopher Lee’s (supposed) sleepy Scottish island of Summerisle, was clearly a huge influence on Wheatley’s film.

There were no showboating visual effects in The Wicker Man, it confidently presented the escalation of creepy events as business as usual, the skewed events seen as absolute normality for the converted residents.

Kill List doesn’t so much go one step further as rewrite the rules. Unlike Wicker, there are scenes of hugely disturbing graphic violence, but these aren’t sustained or even gratuitous. The images don’t so much disgust as slowly sear themselves into your brain for a long time to come.


Deadeyed: Neil Maskell excels as the tortured Jay


The premise of the film – the only semblance of narrative and chronology the director and screenwriters allow – follows our protagonist, Jay (a retired soldier still reeling physically and emotionally from a botched mission in Kiev), and his best friend and former fellow soldier, Gal, on a mission to assassinate three targets. To give any more away would spoil the proceedings; needless to say, what transpires escalates to a final act and a final two minutes that will burrow under your skin for days, months, or possibly years to come. A final shot so haunting that you’ll be trying to fill in the blanks forever, and that’s the supreme strength of the film: the best horrors eschew exposition, reason and logic. The most effective horrors leave the answers to those questions scattered throughout the darkest recesses of the human psyche, and believe me, this film with leave you searching and searching.

One scene in particular features Jay watching, against his friend’s desperate protestations, a videotape in a creepy, decrepit warehouse. Jay has evidently seen some unspeakable events during his military tenure, a hard man who is no-nonsense (take one, comically tinged scene where he, in no uncertain terms silences an overzealous party at a neighbouring table at his hotel) and will not hesitate to embark on a frenzy of psychosis, should the situation call for it. We, the viewer, can hear what is transpiring in this appalling ‘film’, but Jay’s horrified, tear-filled reaction ensures the horror of the proceedings are compounded tenfold. The blanks are there, and we’re filling them in.

The cast acquits itself in uniform excellence – Myanna Buring as Jay’s long-suffering (and also former soldier) wife, Michael Smiley as the less volatile Gal, Emma Fryer as Gal’s phantom-eyed girlfriend-with-a-secret and a small but memorable and downright haunting role from Struan Rodger as the hitmen’s softly spoken, nameless client.


Mean business: Struan Rodger, perfectly cast as the hitmen’s inkwell-eyed client



This is five-star filmmaking without question and I urge all those with a strong constitution and appreciation for the art to give it a watch (it’s currently on Amazon Prime).

Let me know what you think, and…

“Thank You.”



  1. […] via If You Only Watch One Horror Film This… Lifetime — dantandy […]

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