The Daily Stream: Skip This Article, Because Kill List Is Best Seen Knowing As Little As Possible

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they've been watching, why it's worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: "Kill List"

Where You Can Stream It: Shudder

The Pitch: If you've never heard of this movie, that's for the better. "Kill List" is a sneaky little film, one that slowly peels away and keeps revealing stranger and more horrifying cores. Its tonal shifts are purposeful, luring you in until it's too late to turn on something else or even pause the movie. You have to find out what happens next. You have to see where it's going to take you. 

Okay, so that isn't much of a pitch. Or at least, not a traditional pitch. So let me give you a little more info. Directed by Ben Wheatley, who you probably know from the Tom Hiddleston-led "High Rise," the Brie Larson/Armie Hammer crime drama "Free Fire," or the surreal and psychedelic 17th-century horror "A Field in England," "Kill List" hides its stranger qualities behind a plot that feels like a bleak action drama. Or at least the kind of action movie that accidentally keeps veering into stranger and stranger territory. The film stars Neil Maskell ("Atonement"), Michael Smiley ("The Lobster"), MyAnna Buring ("The Descent"), and Emma Fryer ("In The Dark"), which is a fun collage of actors who have starred in very depressing dramas, or in the case of "The Descent," one of the scariest horror movies every made. Unsurprisingly, all of them are excellent in their tightly drawn, mysterious, and incredibly U.K. roles. "Kill List" follows two hitmen who team up to take on one mysterious and very specific job. Their loved ones get pulled into the strangeness and it only gets wilder from there. 

Basically, if the idea of watching a vaguely Iraq war-tinged murder/family drama that ends in an entirely different place than it starts, put "Kill List" on your watchlist. I'm so sorry.

Why It's Essential Viewing

Okay, look, I don't really want to tell you what this movie is about. I went in blind, the friend who recommended it to me went in blind, and in general, I think movies are more exciting if you don't know what's going to happen. It's not that I don't like trailers or teasers or all of the things that make this wonderful website tick, because I also think they're very fun, but I'll have to get into some spoiler-ish aspects, so if you want to stop reading and start watching right now, you have my total blessing.

"Kill List" kicks off with a story that feels like its only goal is to capture the powerful cocktail of malaise and PTSD an ex-soldier is dealing with on a day-to-day basis in a post-Iraq War world. The first third of the movie is all about the small three-person family made up of ex-soldier Jay, his wife Shel, and their young son Sam. You're quickly caught up with some of the good, and all of the bad things happening in their lives. Wheatley spends a lot of time coaxing Jay and Shel into screaming matches that are shot around the tight corners of their cramped house, which makes you feel just as caged in by the suburbs and the lack of funds as Jay. 

It doesn't feel voyeuristic, because it doesn't feel like you're watching them on a screen. Instead you're right in the house, you're sitting at the dinner table, and you're hanging out with Sam as he hides in his room during another blowout fight. For "The Office" fans among us (the American version to be clear), there's a dinner party scene in this film that rivals the infamous "The Dinner Party" episode. It's that off-putting and uncomfortable. No one can escape the yelling, no one can escape the futility, until an old soldier friend Gal offers Jay his way out of the 'burbs. It's a classic "One last job" scenario that involves Gal and Jay teaming up again and taking down the bad guys.

95 Minutes of Fun

Of course, it doesn't happen quite like that. As Gal and Jay meet the rich, weird, and mysterious client who is paying them serious cash to take down every name on his kill list, it hits you that something is beyond off with this movie. As Gal and Jay start checking names on the list, the incongruous scenes add up and start forming a mystery that goes beyond your understanding of the movie. You're watching a family drama, a crime drama, maybe even an action movie, but by the time the credits role, your waist, or maybe neck, deep in the world of horror. Things get gruesome and weird and unforgivable, but Wheatley was signaling his intentions the entire time. Nothing good can happen in a movie that starts off so calmly bleak, and nothing good does.

That doesn't mean this movie will ruin the rest of your day. It's just high octane enough to leave you with your jaw on the floor, but you won't spend hours crying. Instead, you'll be thinking of ways you can recommend it to your friends, so you'll have someone to talk to about that ending.

Also, it's a tight 95 minutes. Everyone has 95 minutes in their week.