Kill List Explained.

Ok so “Kill List” definitely is a baffling movie. A masterpiece? Some would say so. If you look at the consensus as of this writing it’s at 73% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. It has worldwide critical praise. Now as for the audiences, the majority who have seen it are like “WTF? What a piece of shit!”. Anyhow I do get the reason many feel this way. Now I am not going to say it is because the majority of audience members are so used to Hollywood’s no brainer entertainment that when a thinking movie comes along their minds can’t wrap around it’s ability to do more then entertain. Ok , maybe I am. No, actually I am kidding. This movie does make you go “Wtf?”.

The Trailer

So how do we turn a WTF? Into an “AHHHH!!!! I get it”. Here’s how: Ok, so first there are quite a few interpretations out there. Mine is one of them. Based on the research I did I think this is the correct one. (I am not the only one who has concluded this to be right.) I am going to give you two interpretations. The first is a good idea but does not fill in all the gaps like the second one does.

Here is the first one:

It’s all a dream. Now this is a good answer but not great. There are a couple times in the movie when it kind of makes you think. This is a dream. Twice in the movie Jay is told to “Wake up, wake up, wake up!” the first time by his son, Sam and later by his wife, Shel. There is also some foreshadowing. The sword fight between Jay and Shel, with Sam on her back (Future scene.. hmmmm). The rabbit’s entrails supposedly left by the cat is similar to how Gal ends up. What was the point of the Christians at the hotel restaurant? Maybe they were manifested as the cult in this dream… if it was a dream. Another thing I noticed was there was one shot in particular of Jay and Gal getting out of the car and there is a huge rainbow over the car. We clearly see the beginning and end of the rainbow. Is this a reference that at the end of the movie we will find out what’s at the end of the rainbow? Or a reference to “The Wizard Of OZ”. Dorothy waking up to everything being a dream.. or not? hmmmm..

Here is the second interpretation that I believe is correct:

Jay and Gal have a background together in the military. They had a previous job that was in Kiev. It seams something went wrong because when it’s mentioned in the movie it’s like a cloud hanging over them. Something probably went wrong. We never find out what did happen though. Gal’s line “At least we’re not killing a toddler” might refer to something that went down in Kiev. The “Hit job” they get from the latest client is not just another sereis of “hits”. The man that hires them is actually the leader of this cult that worships death and sacrificing oneself. The entire movie is a ceremony to complete the transformation of Jay into the Antichrist. Right from the beginning we see Jay as a man teetering on the brink of madness. The outburst’s, his lack of compassion. However, at various points he tries to come back down to earth trying to make amends with his family. Yet he is always right there on the edge of darkness so to speak. There are members of this cult everywhere. One of them who has been obviously watching Jay, is Fiona. When she sees this outburst that he has at the dinner party she proceeds to go in the bathroom and mark the back of the mirror in essence marking him as the chosen one. It’s all part of the ritual of the Antichrist coming into the world. Taking the bloody tissue could be from when she probably killed the rabbit as one of the first stages of the transformation process. Jay thinks it was the cat who killed the rabbit so he cooks it and eats it. This would most likely put into motion the first stage of his so called “reconstruction” as stated by the cult leader. Accepting a sacrifice. (Unbeknownst to him) Okay what about the victims thanking him? Glad you asked. They are all part of the cult awaiting the arrival of the Antichrist. To see him and be killed by him is an honor and they know they are helping to bring about the reconstruction. Also, they are all pretty much everything that goes against good and decency. Hence Anti. THE PRIEST – would be obvious. He is a representative of God. Yet in an Antichrist cult. Perfect sacrifice. THE LIBRARIAN – Surrounded by knowledge. Books. Power. Yet, in a room in the library there are stacks of  hardcore porn along with a tv showing homemade movies. The librarian filmed disgusting and horrific perversions that probably included children. The sacrifice of the librarian led to more. Through the librarian Jay goes after the people who helped him make the movies, sacrificing them also. THE MP – A house in a secluded area. Sneaking up to the final victim’s house this is where the beginning of the end is. They see a bunch of naked and outfitted people in the distance carrying torches. Some have crowns of thorns on their heads down to the eyes, bleeding. Some wear wicker masks. All seem to be willful participants. One woman goes up on a tree stump willfully hangs herself and the crowd claps in unison. Jay at this point freaks out and starts shooting at them. They all start runnning toward him most getting shot down by him and Gal as they flee from the marauding crowd. Jay and gal end up in a sewer tunnel continuing to run away. Gal eventually gets stabbed and is gutted. Much like the rabbit earlier. Hmmmm. the weird part here is Gal asks for Jay to kill him. Jay does and we hear Gal say “Thank you” right before he dies. This part I am a bit confused. Was Gal a member all this time or is it just ironic? Not sure. Jay eventually escapes the crowd and ends up home where is wife and son are. He has them hide and gives his wife a gun. The cult catches up with him and we see his house surrounded by burning torches. Jay is eventually captured. THE HUNCHBACK – The final sacrifice on the Kill list. After Jay kill’s the hunchback it is revealed that it was his wife with their son on her back that was under the covered disguise. He has done it. The ultimate sacrifice… killing your wife and son. You are now their Antichrist. Remember the sword fight in the beginning?  So the weird thing is. Her smile at the end. Shock? Horror? Disbelief? Acceptance. We know Jay just stands there emotionless. I searched the internet and found a tweet by the director that did say this… “shes laughing at sheer crush irony of it all. ;) she is not in the cult” Well there ya go! My thoughts. What’s yours?

You can purchase the movie on Blu ray HERE. OR DVD HERE.

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80 Responses to Kill List Explained.

  1. avatarSam says:

    Hey Dan. I have just found this blog now and thought that i’d scum it up.

    Iv’e watched this film three times now, once tonight with my English flatmate. He thought it was shit, I on the other hand was happy to sit through it on three separate occasions.

    The second explanation makes a whole lot of sense. So I am going to agree with you. Good job figuring it all out!

    What about Fiona standing in the shadows waving? The way that scene was cut together, showing Jays confusion or perhaps disbelief – this I feel edited together as if it was a lucid dream.

    What is the relationship between Fiona and Jay. She is hesitant and tries to leave when Jay returns home after a hit. Do they have a history, besides him being the chosen one.

    Maybe Ben Wheatley wanted to purely fuck with the audience? There is so much ambiguity. Regardless it was one of my favourite films of 2011 behind Drive.

    Thanks for the insight chief!

    • avatarCinemaDan says:

      Hey Sam! Very good questions. I am going to watch it again and try and get back to you. Thanks for finding me and posting on my littte’ole blog. I will get back to ya! Cheers!

      • avatarMoviefan says:

        I got the impression that Jay’s son wasnt his, that he was really Gals. Far fetched I know, but quite possible aswell..

  2. avatarAlex Wells says:

    The Hunchback made similar shrieks to the other cult members throught the chase…? Also, when the hunchback was uncovered to be jay’s wife, she wasn’t gagged or anything so why not just say, ‘jay, it’s me… you fuck-whit!’ I’m going with the fact she was in on it. I only saw it last night but I’m sure when I watch it again they’ll be a whole lot of stuff I didn’t notice the first time round. I’m not sure we can rule anyone out of being involved, down to the hotel receptionists and that group of jesus lovers in the restaurant…..

    • avatarCinemaDan says:

      I believe at this point she is dying and it is over.. so saying anything is mute. However, I love that this movie makes us discuss this stuff. Plus the director himself says she is not in on it.. Unless he is fucking with us too. Thanks for the comment Alex! :)

    • avatarichi says:

      Jays made to wear the cult mask so she couldnt see his face, plus she was weighed down with her son on her back and had a sheet over her head. Although she was suprisingly quiet.

    • avatarJacobAa says:

      Just finished watching the film and THANK GAWD for your blog lol I agree with everything in the 2nd interpretation. The first one is very far stretched, but I see how one can get to that conclusion. Oh, and the wife couldn’t see through the blanket very well and Jay was wearing a big wicker mask, so it’s not like she knew it was him! ;)

      You explained alot of things that I noticed but wasn’t sure if it was just a mind-fuck, or actually relevant to the story. Fucking amazing film!

  3. avatarNeco says:

    Hi!
    Just watched this movie minutes ago, and instantly googled Kill List explanation.
    Must say I was pretty disappointed by the end. Because it built up so much expectations with all the thank yous and the “pentagrams” and what not. But in the end it felt like the makers took an easy way out. it doesnt add up.
    But I must say your second theory makes kind of sense. Probably should watch it again but I don’t think I have the will.
    But I have a small question. The contractors, who in the end turned out to be the cult leader, was it the first time that Jay worked for them? Cause Gal seemed to know him when he asked how long have I worked for ya.
    And did Shel really die in the end, because the knife mostly hit the hunch(is it called hunch?) and the hunch was acctually the little kid.
    Anyway, it was a good move overall. 3/5
    Neco from Sweden.

    • avatarJustALowlyPedantBoy says:

      I think the “how long have we worked for you” was Gal realising they’d been manipulating/feeding them contracts for a long time & had only just come out of the shadows.

    • avatarKr says:

      I think this was their first contract with them, Gal saying that seemed more like an ironic statement. Whilst sat in the car before meeting the contractors Gal insists on taking the guns, “do you know who’s in there? Because I sure as fuck don’t”. That quote, unless Gal was a cult member too (which is a possibility but it doesn’t feel that way throughout the film), would suggest he hasn’t worked for them before.

  4. avatarthe hunchback says:

    ouch !!!

  5. avatarEmile says:

    Pefectly disturbing … perfectly brillinat. Seems this is Ben Wheatley’s latter-day interpretation of the Dionysus story. Women driven cult … the worship of wine … the decent into the underworld … born of fire (“I liked watching fires when I was young”) … orgy driven sacrafices … madness of the cult. Goodle Dionysus cult … the kill List will then make sense. And about the killing of wife and son? The ultimate audience head screw by Wheatly.

  6. avatarsugah bat says:

    1. satanic cults with allmighty powers does not exist. The cult-conspiracy theory must thus be rejected. It’s never about the surface plot. It wouldnt scare you if it was. We dont believe in those cults.
    2. Never trust the director. (I’ll come back to this).
    3. So where does this leave us… What is the movie about? The opening “statement” – a couple having a nasty fight. The end – husband killing wife and child.

    In short: Jay can’t deal with his issues (cmon folks, back problems? really), he’s jealous towards Gal (notice the exchange of hugs when they come for dinner, his repeated aggression towards gal that night), he can’t deal with his aggression towards his wife (played out in the sword fight and child – the child calls him lazy), and he can’t deal with the fear of them leaving him (notice his concern when his wife is talking to her mother – i assume, it was in swedish – she cursed about how she couldnt leave).

    So, he hates her, can’t leave her, and the rest of the movie is his unconscious phantasy. Since Jay can’t deal with his issues (quite obvious, isnt it), his anger turns to paranoia (basic theories of paranoia – unacknowledged anger placed outside oneself). This cult tricks him and “makes” him kill his wife – the only way he can let in his anger towards her. Yes, it’s all in fantasy.

    Yeah, shoot me. Cmon, you gonna stand up for the credibility of a satanic cult? No, it’s not about it. Be a grown up. The movie is framed by the husband-wife relationship, paranoia and anger.

    I think the director’s quite defensive remarks about different parts of the movie (“it looked more scary”, “doesn’t mean anything) are interesting, especially since he wrote it with his wife. Nevertrust the author, especially when he’s that defensive. So – maybe it’s a metaphor for the rage between them they can not admit. My wild guess.

    Good night.

    • avatarDan Gillette says:

      Hey Suga!

      An interesting theory and not one I will disagree with. If the whole thing is in his unconscious mind anything is possible. The one thing I think this movie does is bring great discussion to it.which in my book is always good thing when people discuss cinema. Thanks for the input!

    • avatarDanny says:

      This is the conclusion I’ve came to on it aswell.

      I reckon the three people on the kill list are actually gal (the priest, due to his religious beliefs) his son (the librarian, his son likes to be told stories) and his wife (the mp, haven’t quite got this one worked out but maybe due to her role in the household making sure everything is working and being provided for the family)

      Anyways, I reckon from around the point that Fiona marks the mirror it goes into a dream about all the things that may resesints about his life.

      His son being turned against him.
      His wife not communicating with him but does with his friend and her mother and embarrassing and humiliating him.
      His friend being closer to his wife than he is.

      I also think there are points in the dream that reference the real life story aswell.

      The fight with the child and mother.
      Watching the fire with gal at his house. Watching the fire with gal of the burning bodies.
      The dead rabbit in the garden. Eating the rabbit with gal in the Forrest

      Don’t think these are meant to mean anything other than suggest an unconscious like between the two of the stories of a man in his real life not saying what he feels and a man acting out a metaphor of his resentment in his dream.

    • avatarChris says:

      The film never once displays any supernatural phenomena, just psychopaths and the gullible committing perfectly realistic acts of violence on one another.

      The KKK appear to be much like a cult, they wear robes, have insane beliefs and stand around at night in forests surrounded by flaming torches, but you wouldn’t say that they don’t exist.

      The point I’m making is that it’s entirely possible, that the cultists simply believed that there was an anti-christ, and a hell and everything in between, through some collective psychological disorder.

      Remember that there isn’t any kind of supernatural occurrence, or anything that could be considered not of this world. Just insanity, which is real as hell.

  7. avatarbear necessity says:

    Hi Dan,

    Thanks for your analysis. This aired on a UK TV channel last night (10 Nov) and it certainly got me thinking. Firstly I have to say I’m a total wuss when it comes to horror (I’m not proud of it but Blair Witch scared me when it first came out) but I found this interesting and gripping rather than frightening.

    Anyway, I agree with your #2 analysis and would go further and say it’s a “simple” (hmm, maybe not quite the right word) tale of a man becoming the Devil’s disciple and the Devil taking his immortal soul. I agree all about the “thank yous” being recognition of those individuals being martyrs to this new order: he has to commit the catalogue of horror to show he’s “fit” to join.

    One thing you didn’t mention is the knife hand-cut at the first job discussion: this is surely nothing more than him signing over his soul: both him and the ‘boss’ (the Devil?) drip blood on a piece of paper … the classic contract signed in blood. Amazingly, Jay & Gal don’t really make much of a fuss about it, it’s almost as if it’s just one of those things irritating formalities that can happen when you agree to take on the job of killing people! “These people eh, what are they like?”

    So I agree with you but I think it’s simpler in that it’s the tale of Faust (he does solve his financial problems) plus a lot of blood, violence, some torture and ritual killing.

    Clive, aka Bear Necessity

    • avatarDan Gillette says:

      I did forget to mention the cut hand scene… hmmm.. but I do agree with you on this. It would be a signing over of his soul at that point. I also agree with your coining of it “interesting and gripping”.. “gripping” is a great word for this.

      I could not stop watching. So yes, it is an intense, gripping piece of drama that does have horrific elements I would say.

      Thanks for the comment and checking out my blog. It’s people like you that make me glad I started a blog, so other like minded people could discuss common interest stuff.

      Cheers Clive! Hope to discuss more in the future. :)

      • avatarbear necessity says:

        Thank YOU Dan. I enjoyed reading your take and thanks for explaining the ‘thank yous’ bit because I think you’re right though I didn’t really get that first time round. Keep on writing, I’ll be keeping an eye on your blog.

  8. avatarGavin says:

    Having watched this twice I still find this a very unsettling film. Setting the cult theme aside, it is a morality tale set in modern day Britain. Politics,Religion and Education have been steeped in corruption and disgusting practices for years and it is only in these latter years that the tabloid press have really been gunning for these institutions (MP’s expenses and covering up of child abuse similarly the church abusers are being outed). What better representation of the tabloid press could there be than two ex-soldiers (one raised in Belfast with underlining sectarian sentiments and another an essex boy), judging from their use of the English language they will have been estate boys with little or no education, perfect tabloid readers. The type that can go to Iraq and kill villagers but still feel that they are just and right to murder those whose crimes they find disgusting – trial by tabloid press. In Britain today there is a cult like following to the tabloid press, people are spoon fed whatever lies and half truths simply for business purposes. This is similar to the three characters money orientated and bankrupt – The wife being one of the most horrible characters in the film. The morality tale finishes with most of the characters falling foul of those they find repugnant. The establishment always wins as Rupert Murdoch has found out.

    As for the trippy dream like feel of the film you only have to watch the 14 episodes of Ideal (available to watch on BBC) to see that this is how he likes to tell tales.

    • avatarArron says:

      Suggesting that soldiers on active duty in foreign battlefields like Iraq are comfortable to “kill villagers” and therefore should not be entitled to find child molestation offensive is a disgusting and offensive sentiment. You should be ashamed of yourself for such a flippant comment, especially given how baseless it is… Which Iraqi villages were routed by British servicemen during operation TELIC? Hundreds of men lost their lives to preserve iraqi civilian life. You should think before you open your poisonous little mouth.

    • avatarChunk Borealis says:

      Just watched this and thought it was brilliant, left me wanting to read peoples thoughts on it.

      Gavin, your point about Jay and Gal being the types to go to war and feel just in killing villagers reminded me of the references to The Crusades in the film (after the Librarian is killed and the naming of the puppies Arthur and Gwinnie) which I don’t think has been brought up here yet.

      It is all interesting reading though :)

  9. avatarseanhunter747@gmail.com says:

    Just watched kill list and then read your comments…what do you think about this:
    Fiona states she is in HR that she goes in and removes unecessary people to improve the company. I think that is her job with Jay to bring him to the point at the end when he kills his wife and child and is fully committed/initiated into to the cult with no ties /distractions.

  10. avatarStewart Wooles says:

    Why was Fiona all dressed in white like a dream sequence when may saw her out of the Hotel window!! It looks like they are setting him up to be with her so she can bare his child but at the start she said she doesn’t want kids. Watched it 3 times now and I need to know wtf is going on lol

  11. avatarChris Hague says:

    All I want to know is do gal and his wife know about it? And does he know he’s part of this pact: is he happy he killed his wife and son? And it seems shes laughing when she’s unmasked like she was in on it? Confusing to say the least but does it’s Job of keeping you thinking about it!!!

  12. avatardave says:

    My thought after the movie was that Jay is the son of the devil / antichrist{isnt there a bit in it were he and his wife talk about his parents) and, as in rosemarys baby, everyone is in on it and guiding him to his destiny

    • avatarDan Gillette says:

      I like this idea. I do believe that he is their version of an Antichrist. Never thought of him as the actual son of the devil. Good theory!

  13. avatarMitch says:

    His wife says “not at my table” when they first all sit down for dinner and Gal says “let’s say grace” so couple that with the fact that she is constantly demeaning her man in front of people even when he mentions war in Iraq and obvious post traumatic stress disorder and the fact she smiles when killed and knows his son is dead, the bitch is a witch!
    I’m of the opinion that that he is in a hell dream like state after what “Went down Kiev” whatever that was. His son, wife and best mate are all killed by him and he is applauded for his actions, as the devil would do.
    Personally think its a great film even if I am way out with my interpretation as any film, picture or action that makes you think is true art. Plus it’s filmed mainly in Sheffield I recognise many of the locations. It’s better than the full month anyway!

    Peace and love brothers and sisters, Mitch.

  14. avatarMitch says:

    Sorry meant full Monty. Damn that auto spell

  15. avatarDan Gillette says:

    “even if I am way out with my interpretation as any film, picture or action that makes you think is true art.”

    Love this quote Mitch. I absolutely agree!

  16. avatarTik TOk says:

    actually director was pissed with the budget given by the producer and decided to fuck the movie up eventually not only did he fuck the producer but the audience too. pretty lame movie.

  17. avatarSomething Wrong says:

    I think some of you might want to invest in some Human Lie Detection books, because no one appears to have caught on to this part… JAY IS AWARE he is dealing with a cult.

    When the Librarian asks Jay if his friend (Gal) ‘knows’ who he (Jay) really is, how does Jay react? I’ll tell you what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t waste time questioning him before taking his life. He doesn’t shoot him a confused look and ask, “What the fuck are you on about?!”

    When Jay sees Fiona standing and watching him from outside the hotel (late at night), how does he react? Again, I’ll tell you what he doesn’t do. He doesn’t go to wake Gal and ask, “What the fuck is your girlfriend doing, creeping around outside?!”

    And, at the end, when the cult puts the wicker crown on his head after having killed his family, how does Jay react? …Ahh. You see where this is going, right?

    On a side note, this is the most flawed part of the film. I’m supposed to believe Jay has almost no reaction to being fooled into killing his family? Wasn’t this the same family he was trying to protect in the previous scene? (That must’ve been one hell of a conk on the head.) And wasn’t this the same guy who became so outraged by the Librarian’s stash that he decided to venture off the kill list and eliminate the sources? And wasn’t this the same guy who became so outraged by the ceremonial hanging that he opened fire on the cult members?

    Wait. What am I saying? I should have factored in how everything changed once he received that totally awesome crown made of wicker!

    Pieces,
    Something Wrong

    PS – Anyone else notice the similarity to the ending of Redbelt? Only, Redbelt pulled it off with a little magic trick known as ‘consistency.’

  18. avatarPete says:

    Anyone got any theories about the doctor scene? He didn’t look at his hand, just said there is no past or future only the present moment..

  19. avatarcharles says:

    Just watched it an now im here lol great film could put it in there with a serbian film. I do love a film that can take you some where dark an leave you there,feeling like you’ve done some thing evil lol…… what about the bit with the docter cut him short an wasen’t intrested about his hand??

  20. avatarwell i wont get that 2hours back says:

    Utter Shiite !! That is all

  21. avatarBill Bobson says:

    The Doctor was a replacement for Jay’s regular GP and said his hand was fine, which i took to mean that it should be left unrepaired, that this was essential to the covenant between Jay and the client offering the hit/head of the satanic cult. I believe that the GP was one of the cult members and he additionally intended to inculcate Jay with the necessity to stay in the present, because his past was gone for good and their was not going to be a future for him as the person he is now.

  22. avatarracer_x says:

    okay, who else is sick of low budgets, badly held together plots and sick shit just for the sake of sick shit. I love a good horror film and have people dropping off new dvds to my office all the time, so I have stacks of films I’ve never heard of to watch and I insist on never reading the synopsis’ on the cases. I split them roughly into genres based on the front cover. You all should try this. In the long run you’ll get alot more from a film if you havn’t pre concieved everything before you start. The downside is you end up watching lots of things you might have avoided had you known what they really were. Kill List is a prime example of this.

    First of all, there is no profound message in the sick ‘twist’ at the end. It was very obvious what the hunchback was. it was badly put together and un thought out scene aswell. If u believe the wife was in the cult why did she shoot a bunch of them before being caught herself and if you dont believe she was a member then surely she and himself would hav realised they were fighting one another. the masks had eye holes, his mask was pulled on right before they fought. Stupid. If nothing else, the hunchback was clearly a woman with something strapped to her back, just based on how it looked and its movement.

    Some hav offered theories that the first target, the priest was a good sacrifice for a cult, but come on, whys he smiling about it before getting shot, whatever about the other two vics. No, this feels more as though the writer hadn’t thought of an ending when he wrote the scene. Stand alone, It was an interesting first kill that never delivered on its eerie promise. It just didn’t really make sense later.
    The cult thing is played out also (wickerman; for example) its been done alot and usually done better. I actually thought the film was shaping up well before the first kill after which the film decended into sick nonsense. his buddy got stabbed, fair enough, guts falling out while hes still fully lucid and talking, bollox.

    Overall 2 things about this film and its content have shocked me. 1. Im shocked that anyone would be bothered to write and produce a ‘film’ that essentially just rips off “a serbian film” for its big predictable finish (they actually did a decent job of shocking you in “a serbian film”, not that that film is much better, its sick and pointless too, it just delivered its filth a bit better) 2. that people are talking about this film as artistic/gamechanging/innovative. This film is a whole lot of cliches from other movies strung together with some sick scenes essentially stolen from other films aswell. filmed with bad actors and poor special effects.

    But the no.1 thing that gets my goat is depraved perverts who defend trash like this by saying that some people just don’t get it and aren’t on the cutting edge of horror like they are. This is a classic asshole way to argue- “if you don’t agree with me you mustn’t be able to understand the film” – really? Is that a fair or reasonable approach. What if I was to say that I’m not really into this film because i’m not a paedofile. Is that fair? Lambasting everyone who enjoyed it with the label of paedofile. I could argue that this is a slow burning kiddie snuff film, i’m sure lots of sickos have watched it having heard about the end. so……am I being fair?
    No.

    I prefer to give my opinion, with explanation and reference to the film and in my oppinion this is simply more torture porn. There is barely a plot, which seems only to be there as a thinly veiled excuses for the film makers to present their version of porn. I dont mind blood and gore etc but lets make it either intelligent or thought provoking. I like horror films because I enjoy being scared and I enjoy tense situations even in my real life. This is a quirk many people have. Fear sets adrenaline pumping and gets the heart beating and traditionally film makers have seen that their is a large market for people who want a good scare. However, I find it genuinely frightening that all these kinds of films keep coming out. These films clearly aren’t meant to scare people.
    They’re about something else and it worries me how big the’re audience seems to be. If You comment on this page defending this film at least answer this question. Who is this film supposed to appeal to and why? (and please, no cop out answers that argue that kill list is modern shakespearean tragedy. I havn’t heard it for this one yet, but it is a popular answer for justifying sick things being done to a charachter. This is only an acceptable answer if the tragedy is preceeded by content that justifies it themeatically, Hamlet didn’t wander about with next to no plot or dialouge for an hour. This film has clearly been made with a couple of scenes in mind and a rough plot written around them, so if you’re going to defend it focus on the key scenes as they are arguebly the films only content)

  23. avatarSC says:

    BAD MAN WINS A HAT……

  24. avatarSi says:

    That’s a bit of a weird interpretation. My weird interpretation is that Jay was shot in the back in Kiev and the whole film happens whilst he’s in a coma state, a la Jacob’s Ladder. If I could be bothered I’d write a bunch of stuff about how various bits of the film support this conclusion but it’s not really worth it. Just an idea.

    • avatarDan Gillette says:

      I would be interested in those points but… “AIDS in Space”‘s comment pretty much showed Wheatley’s approval on his interpretation which is very similar to mine.

  25. avatarDavid says:

    I think that Shel IS part of the cult as is Fiona and Gal. I think that she laughs at at the end because of the way she and the rest of them led Jay around by the nose exactly to this spot. Yes, she shot some of the cult members when they stormed her house, but she is a military woman. She knows what she has to do but isn’t going to be rushed into it. There may also be some “how dare you presume to enter my house. Don’t you know who I am?” pride at being the wife of Jay. Whether Jay is finally “transformed” into the antichrist or just simply the next leader of the cult is irrelevent. Everyone who dies is orchestrated, including Gal. Jay’s willingness to fight the hunchback may be his acceptance of his role, which may have been thrown into question by whatever happened in Kiev. (pang of guilt? doubt about his resolve?) I also don’t think Fiona dies because of the fight. He made some slashes, so she is hurt, just not mortally so. In the swordfight scene, the camera shifts to slo motion when we watch her die. This could be cinematic irony in a foreshadowing sense, or Jay envisioning what he knows will come. He claims he couldn’t work because of his back, but what are all the meds for? He obviously didn’t really need them. I think the new doc substituted placebos in order to bring him back into the fray.
    I didn’t like this movie two hours ago.

  26. avatarDavid says:

    Also, my only complaint about the production of the film is that the dialog was too low in volume and hard to make out. I didn’t have any problem with the language (being a yank and all) but had a hard time hearing them. In a movie of this type, the tone implies that you need to pay close attention to every nuance and inflection. This assumes the director and actors are good at what they do so that there is actually something there to find, but not being able to catch everything was distracting.

    • avatarDan Gillette says:

      I do agree. Sometimes I had to turn on the subtitles to make out some of it. Not because of dialect but volume level of speech within the scene. As far as Shel being part of it the Director pretty much said as posted in my synopsis that she is not. But then again… who knows??

  27. avatarcoalminds says:

    Just watched on Netflix, pretty poorly made film. For one the sound mixing was terrible.

    Two, the direction was flat and uninspired, probably a budget issue but that doesn’t excuse it.

    Three, while it had the mood right (and the series of tests he had to go through are fine) what should have been a climax actually felt anti-climactic due to a lacking plot. The first tests were designed to make sure he “didn’t feel bad” about killing b/c of the kind of people he was killing, then he had to graduate and kill his best friend, then his family, establishing a complete cycle of murder and disconnection from his humanity. Fair enough. But adding up to what exactly? I respect their wanting to stay away from explainers, but it ended up with a plot that, as we see here, viewers had to spend a lot of time guessing about. Despite pretensions, having to guess what a movie might have been about isn’t a sign that you’re superior to “average” American audiences that are supposedly so brain-dead, it means you make excuses for poor storytelling.

    • avatarDavid says:

      It kind of makes you wonder when the writer says, “I hadn’t thought of that, but good idea.” What does Freud say? Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

  28. avatarJames says:

    Hi dan,
    Great review!
    I was wondering what you made of the scene with the doctor.
    It seems to imply that Jay never really had a cut on his hand at all (supporting the dream theory) but I could be misinterpreting it and the doctor could have been in with the cult.
    Thanks.

  29. avatarJp says:

    The doctor was in the cult. You see him remove his mask at the end after jay kills his wife and son. (At least I’m pretty sure it’s the doctor). Check it out

  30. avatarEmman says:

    I dont care what the director saids, I believe she was in the cult. Her laugh, her shrieks while fighting, also in the beginning Gal was going to say grace and she saids “not on my table” as she totally disliked that. When she was talking “with her mum” in some other language, we dont know what she is saying,and we dont know if is really her mom. Anyways, I believe she was part of it, it makes more sense to me.

  31. avatarjeliz says:

    The doctor was definitely in the cult – just finished watching this film and for the first time felt the need to tap in ‘explain kill list’ into google … (makes for interesting reading) and any film that makes you do that is a hit!

    • avatarMitch says:

      I was just thinking the same jeliz. If people are talking about something then it’s achieved it’s aim of creating dialogue amongst viewers. I have read all the reviews both negative and positive and both points of view have made valid points and made me think from varying different perspectives, so thanks to all who have taken the time to contribute. Personally, if I think something is a ‘dog shit movie’ I won’t waste my time reviewing it maybe that’s makes me a clapper and not a slasher. That said I’ve enjoyed all opinions and thanks to dan for the forum to express those views.
      Peace and love brothers and sisters,
      Mitch

  32. avatarMark Stephenson says:

    Just watched the film last night; I like your “explanation.” For whatever reason, I can’t read the previous comments, but has anyone yet mentioned *The Wicker Man*? I think a broader “explanation” of the movie’s meaning lies in situating it in relation to that – to which it’s paying an obvious homage as it heads down to its conclusion. The “hero” of *The Kill List* is the exact inverse of the hero of *The Wicker Man* – and in some ways, the whole movie can be seen as an inversion of TWM, while paying homage to it.

  33. avatarAndrew says:

    The bloody napkin at the beginning was for when Jay cut himself shaving.

  34. avatarAndrew says:

    Does anyone notice that the little boy at the end asks if he can go home? Do they ever call him the son? Or that the papers Gal is looking at as Jay is slaying the affiliates for the child porn biz are Jay and Gals files? Complicates things. What do y’all think?

  35. Hey Dan,

    This is the first time I’ve read your blog and I think it won’t be the last! This explanation is probably spot on. It’s just that the mirror scene doesn’t make any sense to me. Your idea of a marking seems logical but why on the back of a mirror? As far as we know, there are no other cult members in the house to see it. And after all, I think they probably already knew that he would be the one. Hmm, I have to think about this.

    Anyway, I really quite loved this movie. Do you have any recommendations about similar ones? I’ve already seen Eyes Wide Shut (kinda like it) aswel as The Devils Advocate.

    Cheers!
    Roemer

    • avatarDan Gillette says:

      Thanks so much Roemer! It’s people like you that make me want to keep writing and sharing my thoughts. Anyway, I have many recommendations. I will start with this one: “Angel Heart” Have you seen it? Robert Deniro and Mickey Rourke. GREAT MOVIE!

      • You’re welcome! You write great so keep going :) I haven’t seen it but I will tonight! Thanks for the recommendation.

        Also, one thing I forgot to mention in my original comment: Both Gal and Jay actually have the symbol on their wrists. This would suggest Jay knew about the cult…

        • avatarDan Gillette says:

          Interesting.. I need to watch “Kill List” again. It’s been awhile. Also, let me know what you thought of “Angel Heart” I think it’s a superb movie. Let me know. Rock on my man!

  36. avatarash333 says:

    With regards to Gal saying Thank you, is it possible that he was a part of the cult to begin with or at least alerted the cult to Jay’s existence knowing they’d see his Anti-Christ potential after his actions in Kiev? Maybe Gal was hired by the cult to be friends with Jay during the army years and report back to them with his potential. (He’s certainly a man who likes to mock God based on his treatment of the religious group in the hotel). Once they saw what he was capable of the ‘Kill List’ was put into action and the ressurection of the Anti-Christ began in earnest.. Great blog. I was confused as hell to begin with but this theory really changes my enjoyment of the film and gives amazing layers to what I initially thought was just the director being mental..

  37. avatarGenny B says:

    Gal does not thank Jay before his death. Closed captions tell us so.

  38. avatarNico says:

    Just a few things:

    One the deal with Fiona I think is she is kinda like the nurse or devil dog in The Omen hence the waving.

    The friend Gal I am pretty sure only thanked him for putting him out his misery not because he was part of the cult. Also the comment of “How long have I been working for you?” I think he generally wanted to know because he was looking in those files and saw the Kiev one which that guy should not have known about. Course he would be curious how long e has been working for him without him being aware of it. Lastly the pedophile said to him his friend doesn’t know who he is and considering everyone else in the cult seemed to just by looking kinda makes you say ok he’s not in on it. Oh another thing, he was the one who wanted to stop the job. If he was in on it wouldn’t he want him to finish?

    Finally, the wife laughing in the end. I think she was laughing again not because she was part of the cult but at the shear irony of him trying to save them but him being the one to kill them instead.

  39. avatarNico says:

    Thought of this Fiona theory after the fact. The guy comments saying Gal didn’t know the girl long. Could it be she knew all along (which of course she most likely did) and used Gal to get to him? Considering she was in the cult so knew the guy who hired them it would have been easy enough.

  40. avatarAdison says:

    The bloody rag Fiona takes is from that morning when jay cut himself shaving. I’ve seen so many blogs that say it’s from the rabbit but it’s not. Not that important but it has been driving me crazy that people assume it was the rabbit when we saw jay cut himself shaving that morning and use a paper towel or what have you to stop the bleeding.

  41. avatarColin RE says:

    I just have to say, some of you claiming that ‘because it makes us think and talk about it, it must surely be art/a masterpiece’ is ridiculous and borderline stupid. A lot of people said the same thing about Sound of my Voice and it was ridiculous in regards to that movie as well. Both of these movies aren’t terrible, both are quite entertaining actually. What people need to understand though is that there is adifference between an ambiguos ending and an ending that provides nothing. This movies ending provided nothing, it left us to discuss what happens, which doesn’t it make it brilliant but rather suggests the writer had no idea how to answer these questions himself. There are all these parralels in the movie but they don’t mean anything they are just empty parallels.I like your explanation as it does give good reasoning for the events in the film, but so much still doesn’t make sense that it doesn’t even matter. The symbol on the mirror, Jay waving in the hotel room, the non reaction to killing his wife and child; none of that makes sense even with your theory. If you ask me the person who suggested that a few scenes were fully imagined and the rest were trying (unsuccessfully) to fill in the gaps was dead on. There is a reason the creator won’t give an explanation, and its not because we he wants the viewers to figure it out, its because he has no explanation to give and he to admit so would be embarresing.

  42. avatarTrent says:

    I thought the part with the chefs hat on the rack of meat was interesting. At the end of dinner there was one sole rib with a chef hat left, foretelling that only one would survive.

  43. Fiona (who is clearly a form of witch) grabs Jay’s blood covered tissue and removes it from the scene…imo this is for the purposes of magick and spell casting (blood rituals) and clearly Jay (from the implied ending) is the ultimate ‘ritual victim’ in the film. An aspect of the person (item of clothing, hair, blood etc) is often used in this type of ritual/spell casting. Its used in Rosemary’s Baby…Donald Baumgart’s tie is stolen (by witches) and used to cast a spell that blinds him and gives Guy Woodhouse his acting role. Similar happens with Hutch (Rosemary’s friend) who gets a glove stolen and then he is ultimately (and conveniently) dispatched. Rosemary’s Baby & Kill List both have ‘doctors’ that are a part of a cult.

    Fiona (the female wich) who was constantly around the property….she likely killed the cat. Black cats are seen as witches familiar spirits etc…that is why we see the black cat sniffing around the table and landing in her seating position after the dinner party!

    Gal doesn’t say the specific magic ‘thank you’ he merely says ‘thanks’…therefore I don’t think he was involved with the cult (he was being used by Fiona to get to Jay) and this utterance was likely genuine, considering his predicament, he was asking to be finished off. He also finds the ‘cult’s files’ at the librarian’s house and in scenes (where he is on his own, going through the files/pictures) you can clearly see how confused and paranoid he is. The file itself (found in the safe) is marked with the symbol of the cult…it is on the front cover flap. Gal is also only present for the very first ‘thank you’ (the priest) and not privvy to the librarian’s thank you, who waits for Gal to leave before telling Jay.

    The victims (priest, librarian etc) are imo ALL WILLING sacrificial victims, but for a greater cause…the cause of this specific cult, which imo is to bring about Jay as a form of new assassin/murderer/leader for THIS CULT! (hence a form of antichrist). ‘Willingly sacrificed’…we are witnessing a form of apoplexy….a type of ‘falling on your sword’ aspect with the priest. librarian etc. This is further solidified by the self-hanging scene near the end…ala the tarot ‘hanged man’…’destruction of self brings life to man’ etc. We could perhaps view the whole thing as Jay’s ‘uber hazing’ into this cult and the sacrifice (unknowingly) of his own family as a form of penance for his entry.

    There is quite a large Arthurian thematic too…aka ‘the once and FUTURE king’, Jay is a type of reborn Arthur/King, his crowning at the closing full moon cermony will also partly reference this. The early fore-shadowing sword fight falls into this thematic, as does the dog that would’ve been called Arthur, perhaps Gal can be taken as an abbreviated Gal-ahad? In a kind of ironic Arthurian twist…Jay kills his own son in battle, whereas King Arthur was mortally wounded (albeit temporarily, if we take the legend and he returns) by his own ‘incestuously sired’ son Mordred.

    Jay’s wife is clearly not in the cult either…the aspect of ‘dramatic irony’ seemingly lost on filmgoers who need everthing spelled out (pun intended) for them!

  44. avatarJamR says:

    Jay’s wife (shell?) served in the Swedish army, is handy with a gun, even supplied Jay with one of the firearms he will use for his contract killings. I believe she was laughing at how apt the final scene is. She has begged him to find work for 8 months, she wanted him to take a job, she wanted him to kill someone to support his family (pay for jacuzzi repairs specifically), and perhaps because she resents what she sees as the weakeness of his mental downturn since whatever trauma occured in Kiev. She bought him the new gun as encouragement. In the end, he does get a job, turns out its the wife and child she wanted him to provide for are the very ones he’s killing. If it wasn’t for the masks they wore they would have recognised one another and the tragedy would never have occurred, if they had tried to communicate verbally rather than engaging in combat. Much like their domestic relationship. Seems to be a case of live by the sword, die by the sword.

  45. avatarPaul says:

    Jay isn’t being groomed to lead the cult, he is just a “cog” in the machine, as the client tells him. The cult has successfully coerced someone into killing his own wife and son. And while it wasn’t exactly voluntary, it was without horror upon realization. The lady who hangs herself was a similar achievement. The leadership remains the same (the robed ones unmasked at the end including the client and Fiona).

  46. avatarMandy says:

    I don’t think Gal was in on it, as he seems Christian (although a little off the path). They say Shel isn’t, but I think it’s telling how anti Christian she is. I also wondered about her smile at the end, although if the director says she wasn’t, then she wasn’t.

  47. avatarMandy says:

    I’ll have to watch again after reading all these comments!

  48. avatarMartin says:

    Agree entirely with your 2nd explanation. (And that the substitute doctor was also in the cult). It seemed clear to me that Shel wasn’t in the cult or know – her laughter at the end was about the irony of it all, and in the fight neither of them knew it was the other (due to the masks etc) . She thought she was defending herself and her son from a masked cult member, and he thought he was fighting a hunchback cult member. A cool, moody film, with a touch of David Lynch (except that it is more explicable).

  49. avatarLJR says:

    I think those connections you made in the second theory fits too perfectly to be anything but the truth. In a recent interview the director said he based the end sequence off of childhood nightmares he used to have, and worked backwards with the plot to explain that scenario with a story. Now while this may at first point to it all being a nightmare, I personally think it actually means the plot was very though out in order to explain a very dream-like sequence in a realistic way. This means he is also a genius who after devising a perfect plot to lead to a sequence born from a psychological interest in fear itself, he then removed anything that would make it too obvious or easy to interpret; this would be the same thing as if he too the scene in Sightseers where the girl stares bizarrely at the dog and just decided to cut the flashback that explains it. People who want everything explained to them would be hollering about how little sense it makes, while equally calm and thoughtful people would have pieced it together; the mom saying murderer, her love of dogs and dog school, maybe a mention in another line that alludes to it and viola, you have Kill List 2. Personally I love when a genius film maker treats me like an equal and lets me figure it out.

  50. avatarShaun says:

    When one watches a film, one likes to come away feeling they’ve experience something worth watching. It’s this where Kill List fails, at least it did for me.

    When popping the Blu-ray into the player the first thing that hit me was the look of the film. It looks cheap, it looks like it was filmed using a HD Video camera with little to no after processing. This instantly put me off.

    Next was the acting. Again, it wasn’t great. Something was lacking.

    Finally we got the confusing story. Some ex military bloke, with after war issues, being told to wake up. Is it a dream? Is he simply being told to wake up from a place where is mind is being held, as a consequence of war. Or is it all just a load of old shit about cult bollocks. Towards the end of the film, the crap film got crapper. How cheap did the people with the fire standing outside the house look?

    A good film is a film that you want to watch time and time again. Kill List is not one of those films, no matter how clever or unclever it might portray itself.

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