Reviews: Kill or Be Killed

Kill or Be Killed is released tomorrow. Read our review early. 

Take me to your nearest shower!

The spaghetti western has slowly been making a comeback. The gritty subject matter presented in less civilized manners provides an appealing escape for film goers in an over sensitized modern world. Kill Or Be Killed (formerly known as Red On Yella, Kill A Fella) follows a group of wanted outlaws lead by Claude “Sweet Tooth” Barbee as they make a 500 mile trek across Texas to claim their hidden riches. The Barbee gang are a fun group of mixed personalities, and their antics give the film a likable swagger. It is the appeal most films with large casts can portray when done well. The supporting cast are also notable as each actor offers a variety of hard nosed and quirky characters. 

There is a lot to like about this film. Written and directed by Duane Graves and Justin Meeks, Kill Or Be Killed doesn’t waste any time heading into the plot. Set in the Badlands of Texas, the terrain provides several beautiful shots. The desolate deserts and red rock mountains provide an unduplicated authenticity, and cinematographer Brandon Torres’s frame work justifies the beauty of the location. 

Give us all your
money and your Preparation H. 
The further removed we become from the old west as a culture, and in cinema, the more fascinating a western film becomes. Kill or Be Killed showcases the mannerisms, dialogue, and wardrobe that made the era so unique, but where it particularly shines is the gun violence. Kill Or Be Killed has some well choreographed shoot out scenes, and the makeup and effects teams do an admirable job with the gunshot wounds and blood. It's not unnecessarily gory, but it does realistically depict the result of primitive violence. The story at the core is a typical western. Whenever a group of outlaws ride together between vast desert town, reward bounties make for complications. The film does add its own unique twist to the story. It has the foundations of horror, but stays true to its western plot and plays out more like an action/ mystery. The film does drag on at times. Some scenes play out too long, while some impactful moments are disappointingly short. 
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The wardrobe is era appropriate, yet some of the clothing looks too polished for the terrain and lifestyle of an outlaw. It’s a nit-picky complaint, and in a small way a compliment. Every other detail is executed so well that the clothing stands out in a few scenes as being too new for the setting and conditions. Overall, Kill Or Be Killed is an enjoyable rambunctious film, full of grit, blood, and a rowdy cast of characters. The ending is original, and will most likely divide viewers on their overall reception of the film considering its unique outcome. 

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Lee L. Lind