A truly original and fascinating art style makes for unrelenting grotesquery in a film you'll want to switch off long before it's over
As far as directorial debuts go, they don’t come much more distinctive than Kill It and Leave This Town, a dark and disturbing animation with an art style that's entirely its own and an uncompromising stream of consciousness approach to storytelling. Mariusz Wilcynski’s film is hard to classify, and its originality and vision are to be commended, but the end product is so deliberately unpleasant that it’s almost impossible to recommend.
There’s no real plot to speak of here, Wilcynski essentially just guiding us on a fractured tour of his psyche and memories, all taking place in the run-down working class town he grew up in. These memories are presented through a genuinely fascinating animation style. Scratchy, black and white sketches make up the town and its inhabitants, as if they’ve been surreptitiously drawn in the margins of a school textbook. It’s a style that’s hard to adequately describe, and you have to see it in motion to get the full effect, but suffice it to say that it lends itself to surrealism very well.
Wilcynski conjures horrific image after horrific image – a man with a seal’s face is about the least disturbing sight you’ll see – from an old woman’s genitals being sewn up after her death to a small dog bleeding to death behind a newspaper kiosk. It’s intermittently affecting, but mostly exhausting. There’s only so much plotless grotesquery you can take before you’ll want to bow out.
As a short, Kill It could have worked as a striking and uniquely designed piece. Even at under 90 minutes, though, it severely outstays its welcome as a feature film, feeling more like an act of therapy for its director than something truly intended for an audience. Strong-stomached animation aficionados may find enough here to hold their attention, but for everyone else, Kill It asks too much and provides too little.
Kill It and Leave This Town is available to stream on BFI Player.Where to watch