Review by Camden Ferrell
You will likely not find a film more ambitious or perplexing than Kill It and Leave This Town. This is the first feature film from director Mariusz Wilczyński, and it is a project that has been developed for the past fifteen years. Even if its themes can feel muddled and meandering at times, this is a unique experience that meditates on death and mortality.
Overcome with grief and despair after the loss of those dearest to him, our protagonist hides in the bowels of his memory. He revisits his parents, friends, and the life he once led. Describing the premise as such doesn’t nearly prepare the viewer for the absurdity of this movie. It takes its interesting premise and turns it into something utterly inexplicable.
The writing might be the weakest link in the film. There are many dialogue free moments that work really well, but some of the dialogue doesn’t always land properly. There are some really touching and resonant exchanges and conversations, but it can also come off as contrived at times.
The characters themselves are fascinating. Supplemented by a talented cast, these characters feel tangibly relatable. Regardless of the vulgar animation and haunting visuals, it truly feels like we can relate to the characters’ pain, longing, and existential dread. It’s not comforting at all, but it’s weirdly familiar in abstract ways. This is one of the film’s strong suits, and it deftly creates an environment that rings a bell somewhere in our mind.
One of the most discernible aspects of the film is its animation style. It’s crude, vulgar, and shocking, and it all works so well in context of the film. The animation style illuminates the messages and themes so well, and it is a visual spectacle even if it can be hard to watch at times. It blends its haunting animation with some poignant imagery and a hefty dose of shock value that make it a unique visual achievement.
The film also boasts some great music throughout featuring some assertive electric guitar riffs. It is almost evocative of some of the trippy soundtrack in Fantastic Planet. Unfortunately, this movie can also be a little too ambitious for its own good. Certain scenes and moments significantly drag and create a lot of confusion. While the whole film is somewhat incoherent by design, there are some moments that feel wholly unnecessary.
Despite any flaws, the movie still proves to be a memorable experience that meditates on the human condition with stunning artistry. Many films tackle mortality, longing, and death, but so few can properly encapsulate those themes and blend it with a surrealist touch like Wilczyński. This movie is not for everyone, but it is ultimately a rewarding experience.
Kill It and Leave This Town may necessitate repeat viewings to be properly appreciated. It’s a film that is ambitious and rewards audience reflection and patience. It’s run time is brief, but it’s a film that takes you on the journey of one man and the life he is trying to relive and recapture.
Kill It and Leave This Town is available to stream November 25 to December 8 from Anthology Film Archives.