Three brothers hatch a plot to murder their abusive father on a hunting trip, only for things to go very wrong, very quickly in this pitch-black thriller from writer-director Rodger Griffiths. ‘Kill’ makes its world premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival this week.
Adapted from Griffiths’ own 2017 short film ‘Take the Shot’, ‘Kill’ wastes no time with a beautifully constructed opening sequence, which kicks the plot into gear. Daniel Portman, Brian Vernel, and Calum Ross play three brothers, who have gone deer hunting with their father Don (Paul Higgins) in the woods near their home. But the hunting trip is an ambush, and they kill him and bury him in the woods.
As they set about covering their tracks, and making away with the contents of their father’s safe, a series of flashbacks reveal the lifetime of physical and mental abuse these boys suffered at the hands (and fists) of their tyrannical father. Trust me when I tell you, this bastard had it coming. When a single mistake in their plan sends them back into the woods, fear, guilt, and paranoia begin to consume them.
The opening scenes to ‘Kill’ are as promising as anything you are ever likely to see from a low budget indie thriller. From the moment the boys turn their guns on their dad I was hooked. There’s a feel of early Ben Wheatley about the film, with its earthy mix of the domestic and the horrific. The atmosphere of the film is thick with claustrophobia, whether it be the oppressive house, still lingering with awful memories, or the terrifying woods closing in around them.
The film becomes less steady as it progresses, with more twists, flashbacks, and reveals than I think the narrative can handle. There’s also an uncertain dalliance with the occult, when the boys come across some very Blair witchy looking stuff in the woods. It briefly suggests that the film might be about to take an altogether different turn, but then forgets it just as quickly.
The performances are decent, especially Paul Higgins who is suitably terrifying and convincing as the abusive father. Some of the flashback scenes make for difficult viewing. Sadly, the film rather falls apart in the final act, with one ridiculous contrivance after another. When you’re dealing with such serious themes (domestic violence / child abuse / patricide), and the tone of the film is so dark and portentous, it just can’t cope with silly things happening. It breaks the spell.