When Ben Wheatley sat down to write the script for Kill List with his wife Amy, they took things such as reoccurring nightmares, fears and anxieties of theirs and writing them into the fabric of the script. When he was a child he lived near the woods and was afraid of the woods., and he would have a dream where he was hearing music, and following a large group of people who were going to do some kind of worship that he didn't understand and then he watched them turning seeing him, chasing him and killing him. It was a key image for Ben and disturbed him since he was very small and later found that at screenings of his film, others were saying that had similar dreams and so for Ben it made some sense.
- Q. Is it true that Kill List was inspired by your childhood nightmares?
Ben Wheatley: Yes, I trawled my memories for the scariest things I could think of and that whole thing of following cultists through the woods stems from a dream I used to have a lot as a kid. I just thought if it was scary as a kid then it could apply to lots of people, and weirdly, afterwards when we’d had a few screenings people were saying that they had had similar dreams, so it kind of made sense.(www.indielondon.co.uk)
- Ben Wheatley: And I'd been thinking about things that really scared me, things from dreams and nightmares I'd had as a kid, so I kind of thought about those and wrote those down. And then general fears of like I've got a young son as well, and that kind of thing with being a father is that you worry about the fear of me accidentally crashing a car or something and killing your family and it being your fault. So there was that kind of fear, and then the whole thing with the cults is I used to dream a lot about following cults in the wood and them seeing me, chasing me and killing me, so it was kind a mixture of those two. And then it was just mixing together and finding a throughline that would be able to kind of just tie those terrifying moments together - and that's where the list came from. (www.boxoffice.com)
- Kill list is not like any other horror film
I’ve ever seen, did you aim to make it as original as possible when you
were making it?
Ben Wheatley: Yeah, I think you always want to make something original…well I suppose not, you might be making a remake. Going in to it I thought that if I was going to make a horror film then it better be horrible and there’s no point doing it unless it’s going to be scary. A lot of the stuff came from dreams and nightmares that I had as a kid so when I wrote it with Amy (his wife) we kind of strung together those incidents so I felt that if it was primal enough to give me enough of a fear that would give me a reoccurring nightmare then it might chime with an audience. (idolmag.co.uk)
- Ben Wheatley: Much of it was strung together from nightmares I had as a kid, recurring dreams of being chased. (www.timeout.com)
Ben Wheatley (image from web.orange.co.uk/)
- Which leads into the Pagan cult aspect of the film. Is that
degree of fanatical, religion-based group mentality something that has
always fascinated, or even frightened, you?
Ben Wheatley:Yeah, that comes from dreams, for me. I used to have nightmares about that when I was little. I lived near the woods, and I was afraid of the woods. When Amy [Jump, his wife] sat down to write the script, we tried taking these things that are recurring nightmares, fears, and anxieties of ours and writing them into the fabric of the script, to make sure that we’d hit these beats and make people feel uncomfortable.
For me, I guess, the script really started from this dream I used to have, which was being in the woods, hearing music, and following an awful lot of people who were going off to do some kind of worship that I didn’t understand, and then me watching them and them turning, seeing me, and chasing me. That was the key image for me, that disturbed me since I was very small. (www.complex.com/)
- The sound design also gives the film a very heavy, haunting
dreamlike feel, which seems to fall in line with your nightmare
Ben Wheatley: I think cinema is a dream, though, isn’t it? That’s the thing. You go into a dark space, you have a vision, and then you leave it—that’s a dream. All films are compressed time. They don’t make any sense; they jump around in time and space, and you’re looking up close at things and looking far away at things. If you think about what your reality is, your reality is a fixed camera that moves through space. The only other time where you have something that jumps through space and time and you move very close from things and very far away from things, very quickly, is dreams. (www.complex.com/)