AKA IDILA (IDYLL)
(Not to be confused with 2002 Australian feature The Killbillies)
Slovenia’s first horror film, an award winner at the Portorose film festival is clearly influenced by the kind of American films to feature lost travellers, mountain men and inbred killers living in the wilderness. It’s the kind of film where the antagonists actions and facial features are equally awful. You might think that a European sensibility would imbue this kind of story with something a little fresher, and while are certainly a couple of memorable moments that point to the country of origin this is mostly a standard series of tropes we’ve seen before. There are still effective moments however, so recycled elements aside the execution manages to be moderately entertaining for the most part. There aren’t many big surprises, but some the ideas are included are worth looking at.
The premise is exactly what you’d expect as amateur model Zina heads out for a photo-shoot in the countryside. She’s not really that happy about it, and declares this will be her last time. Her age is on her mind, and the hangover she’s got from the night before isn’t helping things. Her partner for the day is Mia, a career obsessed air head with a serious case of running mouth. Unfortunately Blitcz the photographer in charge of the show and his colleague Dragica think she’s the most talented of the two. Zina will just have to take the cash and be done with it. Of course soon enough they are interrupted by some rather gnarly looking locals who aren’t too happy about the intrusion onto their land. As if that’s the reason for what they’re about to get up to.
Slovenia itself seems picturesque enough once the story leaves the shady alleyways Zina was walking through the night before. There are plenty of landscape shots that seem to be here just to show a few nice views of the scenery. It’s all a prelude to the dirty, bloody scenes which are about to come along of course. Once the gang find themselves captured by the two villains things are very different, and there are a lot of decaying buildings, grimy underground rooms and a rather sinister laboratory. As things take a turn for the worse it’s soon obvious that they’re not doing this just for the usual rape and murder. Which they still do… but their plans don’t end there. The reasons for the focus on a certain mystery booze on sale in the night club and by the roadside on the way to the shoot location become apparent once the kidnapped girls are taken away.
The most distinctive idea in all of this the fact that inside the hillbilly hideaway is a room that serves as both a torture chamber and a distillery. In a scene that uses a device which looks like a cross between the rack of medieval times and the jacking in chair from The Matrix, the unfortunate victims have their fluids extracted to make some tasty moonshine. Everyone seems to be drinking this unbranded liquor known as rakia or šnops. Maybe there’s some kind of social commentary here, but it’s lost on me. It’s still weird and gross though even if the amount of bottles they sell and the number of people killed makes the operation seem a little unfeasible.
The make up and splatter effects are all very good, from the heinous skin conditions of the two main killers to the gore that arrives when heads start to roll. It’s not particularly well edited but time and care has been put into these things to create a reasonable horror story atmosphere. The props in the cave are detailed and get plenty of filthy close-ups. The villains are the standout though, even in early moments when the crew stop at the side of the road and meet a strange old hag who starts laughing maniacally, telling Blitcz their liquor is only for sale to real men. The sense of unease generated is pretty strong in these kind of moments.
Unfortunately not everything works. A lot of it seems rushed and some of the sets are underused, particularly the creepy house above the distillery where their victims are stored. There’s really no need to use the woodland so frequently just for the same old chases we’ve seen before. When things are slow there are still some issues; while a shadowy atmosphere is usually a plus point, here at times it’s impossible to see what’s happening. Mia and Zina slowly walking through the corridors to escape is way too dark for some reason. It’s strange that when some parts work it just runs of steam and resorts to these kind of badly paced suspense moments from so many other low rent productions.
A certain lack of internal logic is prevalent, which can be frustrating even for a slasher movie. The girls aren’t even tied up in the basement, so why don’t they fight back instead of acting like they have no willpower? Zina’s tough streak was set up in the first club scene where she evaded a seedy drunk, why not do the same here as a pay off? Why did she use a knife only to leave it behind when another weapon was available, doesn’t anyone else need it? It’s probably over analysing this but these moments stand out. In the end there is a lot of the glorious practical gore you could ask for and a few interesting scenes that stand out. Just don’t expect anything truly original in the grand scheme of things, or anything really well though out.