A lot of fans are out for blood when it comes to British director Ben Wheatley. His second and latest film, “Kill List,” has largely been billed as a hit-man film mixed with kitchen-sink drama. But not even the savviest viewer could guess the stunning end to the movie. Some were enraged by the wild left turn the movie takes in its last few moments, but fans took to the discussion boards to hash out its true meaning.
A word of warning: If you want to enjoy this film, don’t look it up online. Why? Because Wheatley admits that some of the fans are right about their theories on the significance of the ending.
“I’ve not seen any analysis that’s way off, or people [who] have been completely confused by the storytelling to the point where they make up these things that were genuinely not our intention,” he says. “I think all the information is definitely there for a reasonably definitive reading of it. But the idea of coming out of the cinema not quite knowing what happened is not new. I didn’t come out of ‘Inland Empire’ cursing David Lynch going, ‘Damn him and his inconsistent storytelling skills!’”
Though “Kill List” has been embraced critically, Wheatley has an understanding for those who were frustrated with the film.
“Where the tension comes from it all is when you take genre fans and you show them stuff that is half genre and half not genre. I think people can get antsy about that,” he explains. “It’s the crowds that wanted to go see a hit-man film who I think get the angriest.”
But back to that “kitchen-sink drama” that’s always discussed in regards to the central couple of the film, Jay and Shel, who have vicious fights before Jay leaves for a hit job.
“From an American perspective, I think [kitchen-sink drama] just means British films about Britain,” Wheatley says with a laugh. “We had the same thing with [previous release] ‘Down Terrace’ — people would say ‘They live in squalor in these tiny houses.’ But that’s Britain. All the houses are tiny.”
Wheatley’s top picks
We asked director Ben Wheatley to discuss some films that have influenced his work. Get thee to Netflix.
“The Wicker Man” (1973)
“The Manchurian Candidate” (1962)
“The Parallax View” (1974)