The forested hills and valleys of Scotland, full of mist and mystery, the hunting ground for father Don and his three sons, John, Henry and Vince, youngest and the favourite, unable to even carry his gun correctly yet forgiven for everything his siblings never have been. The stag in John’s sights, he’s unable to make the kill, infuriating Don who takes position, but the animal isn’t a prize, it’s bait, a lure tied to a tree to get their father where they need him to be.
Leaving behind a shallow grave already dug in anticipation, the three brothers must now erase any trace that they were together in the forest, burning their clothes, hiding their father’s car and claiming he’s been away for days if anybody asks, nothing to trace his disappearance back to them or the forest when it is eventually noticed, the time they hoped to buy evaporating with the knock on the door in the night which comes days sooner than any of them expected.
An independent Scottish thriller premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, Kill is written and directed by Rodger Griffiths, the debut feature which he has worked for over a decade to bring to the screen, starring Brian Vernel, Daniel Portman and Calum Ross as John, Henry and Vince and Paul Higgins as Don, a domineering monster hated by all who knew him and none more than his family.
The older boys brought up in a climate of fear and violence, their bodies covered in recent bruises and older scars and their mother Kate (Anita Vettesse) having paid for trying to escape, with Don no longer around to reign over them their rivalry for head of the family begins to show, brought up on a farm where the only emotion a man showed was anger and struggling to express themselves any other way.
Their justification that they needed to protect Vince as much as themselves soon giving way to blaming him for their own mistakes, with the key to the safe accidentally left in the grave necessitating a return the already grim situation turns darker when they find their father’s body replaced by that of a stag and the trees nearby strung with skulls, bones and carcasses as though someone had conducted a ritual of resurrection or transformation.
A nightmare in a forest full of memories where the trio are in danger of becoming lost with no frame of reference, haunted by the past and hunted by an unseen stalker, Kill is difficult and unpleasant viewing, the violence depicted as real and leaving emotional scars deeper than the physical but demands nothing less than full attention, questioning what is revenge and what is justice even as it turns onto a lonely dirt road where there are no winners and the best that can be hoped for is to make it through the night without dying.
The Edinburgh International Film Festival has now concluded