Streaming Review

Kill It and Leave This Town review – disturbing animation is impossible to recommend

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

More Reviews...

In the Heights review – intoxicating musical is the film of the summer

Jon M. Chu's screen adaptation of the acclaimed Lin-Manuel Miranda musical is a relentlessly joyous explosion of life and colour

One in a Thousand review – a well-crafted tale of young queer love

Writer-director Clarisa Navas helms an impressive and highly personal story of romance set in a poor neighbourhood in Argentina

The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard review – a heinous and incomprehensible sequel

Ryan Reynolds's self-aware schtick wears dangerously thin in an ugly follow-up that seems to hate its own cast and audience

Fargo review – a yahsterpiece of the highest order

Is the Coens' chilly neo-noir about a simple kidnapping plot gone very wrong still as inspired as it was back in 1996? You betcha!


Best Films to Watch in London and Stream This Week

With UK cinemas back in business, we highlight the best of what's new, from an intoxicating movie musical to Pixar's latest gem

Why I Changed My Mind About… The Royal Tenenbaums

Next in our series about films our writers have reconsidered, Emily Maskell on how grief changed her view of Wes Anderson's comedy

20 Unmissable Films Still to Come in 2021, Ranked by How Excited You Should Be

Beatles! Broadway! Beautiful boys! With seven months of the year still to go, Ella Kemp weighs up the biggest UK cinema releases...

Bitches of the Badlands: The Myth of the American West Through the Female Lens

With Nomadland and First Cow now in UK cinemas, Lilia Pavin-Franks explores how Chloé Zhao and Kelly Reichardt have rewritten the rules of Hollywood's most fabled genre