Dan Krauss is a journalist-filmmaker known for telling profound, provocative, and compelling stories found through the mantle of real life. In 2005 and 2016, respectively, he produced, directed, and shot The Death of Kevin Carter and Extremis, two films that received Academy Award nominations for Best Documentary (Short Subject).
In 2013, he produced, directed, and shot The Kill Team, a documentary detailing the killing of Afghan civilians by American soldiers in what’s known as the Maywand District Murders. That film, which won the Film Independent Spirit Award for Truer than Fiction and the award for Best Documentary Feature at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival, will now, according to the Hollywood Reporter, be adapted into a dramatic feature of the same name.
Krauss will direct the remake of The Kill Team, marking his first venture into narrative feature filmmaking. The new version will be distributed by A24 and will star Nat Wolff (Paper Towns) and Alexander Skarsgård (Hold the Dark) in leading roles. This film’s source material is perfect for a full-length drama. The documentary is harrowing, audacious, visceral, and at times frustrating to watch — not because it’s poorly made but rather it’s hard to watch the injustice the main character faces after trying to keep his government accountable to justice.
The documentary follows Adam Winfield, a former US Army specialist who blew the whistle on the other members in his platoon for killing Afghan civilians while on deployment. Our review of the documentary calls it “vehemently honest” as Krauss boldly tells this story using horrifyingly brutal images of American soldiers posing with their dead “trophies.” Currently available on Amazon Prime and Hulu, the documentary is absolutely stunning, evoking myriad emotions about Winfield’s catch-22 situation. The film forces you to question your perspective on the brutality and true nature of war, ultimately claiming there are other American “kill teams” out there who occasionally fulfill their boredom by murdering for sport. It will surely make a powerful dramatic feature film.
If there were any company to distribute The Kill Team, it would be A24. This will mark their first venture into the war drama, but A24 always knows how to pick the best movies. Obviously, A24 has been one of cinema’s most exciting new voices, dominating recent awards races with films like Room, Moonlight, and Lady Bird. Featuring an issue so profound and complex, The Kill Team may follow the paths of other pressing military films such as The Hurt Locker or American Sniper, possibly showering A24 with even more accolades or prestige. It’s certainly a story with a lot of depth and potential, so long as Krauss’ storytelling abilities translate to dramatic filmmaking.
Although their roles haven’t been disclosed yet, both Wolff and Skarsgård are intriguing fits for the film. Wolff has certainly come a long way since his role in Nickelodeon’s The Naked Brothers Band, starring in Paper Towns and Death Note, among others. For the former, he presents a sense of charisma and innocence that could well suit the role of Winfield, if that’s the idea. Considering his previous body of work, it is fitting for him to play an ambitious, kind-hearted soldier who just wants to do the right thing.
Skarsgård could easily play the abusive officer-in-charge who encourages and covers up the unjustified killings. Again, we don’t know what role he’s cast in, but his performance as an abusive husband in HBO’s Big Little Lies earned him an Emmy Award for Best Actor in a miniseries. And in the new Netflix movie Hold the Dark, he has a shockingly violent and morally questionable scene with a fellow soldier as his character is serving in Iraq. Skarsgård can be seemingly well-meaning yet intimidating and dangerous, which is exactly what this film needs in an antagonist.
It’s exciting news that The Kill Team is receiving a dramatic feature adaptation. The story has a captivating and important message that more people need to see (of course, I encourage you to go watch the original right now rather than just waiting for the remake). Hopefully, under A24’s wing, The Kill Team can be the next prominent, thought-provoking war drama.