Who is He? After starting out in television comedy sketch shows, the British filmmaker Ben Wheatley transitioned into directing low-budget, genre-defying movies that aren’t afraid of mixing ultra-violence with laughs that catch in your throat.

What should people watch? Wheatley has directed acclaimed movies such as Sightseers (2011), a black comedy about a couple on holiday who become serial killers; A Field in England (2013) a psychological horror movie set during the 17th Century English Civil War; and High Rise (2016), an adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s science-fiction novel. But SW suggests that you first seek out his 2011 midnight movie Kill List.

What Steven says: There are elements of the hyper realism of directors such as Mike Leigh and Ken Loach in Kill List, a movie that starts off like a family drama, develops into a brutal hitman movie, and then finally ends up in the realms of occult horror. There are so many layers and levels to this unpredictable story about two contract killers in the north of England. Each time they kill someone on their client’s list, the victim thanks them beforehand, as we gradually realise with a sense of creeping dread that the hunters are actually the hunted, and they are involved in something far bigger and more sinister than they know.

Kill List includes scenes of incredibly explicit violence that aren’t stylised, and it has a genuinely surprising and disturbing ending. It walks a very fine line between kitchen-sink reality, and surreality, which is a hard thing to pull off. Wheatley’s style exudes an incredible love of the history of cinema, but he also transcends his influences with a distinctive personality, a brilliant new talent in British cinema. 

Viewers should like Wheatley if they like….the existential occult horror of movies like The Wicker Man, conspiracy movies such as The Parallax View, or the gritty realism of Mike Leigh’s Naked.