KILLBILLIES (2015)

, ()
Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , ,

AKA IDILA (IDYLL)

UK Release TBC. Available on R1 DVD from Amazon and Artsploitation Films

(Not to be confused with 2002 Australian feature The Killbillies)

Slovenia’s first horror film is an award winner at the Portorose film festival. It’s 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 facial deformity explains everything about them. You might think that a European sensibility would imbue this kind of story with something a little fresher. But 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 some effective moments, so recycled elements aside the execution manages to be moderately entertaining. There aren’t many big surprises, but some the ideas are included are worth a look.

killbillies-1

The premise is also nothing new, as amateur model Zina (Nina Ivanisin) 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 (Nika Rozman), a career obsessed air head with a serious case of running mouth. Unfortunately Blitcz (Sebastian Cavazza) the photographer and his colleague Dragica (Manca Ogorevc) think she’s the most talented of the two. Zina will just have to take the cash and be done with it. But they’re soon interrupted by some rather gnarly looking locals, who aren’t too happy about the intrusion onto their land. As if that’s a good enough reason for what they’re about to do.

Slovenia itself seems picturesque enough, once the story leaves the shady alleyways Zina was exploring the night before. There are plenty of landscape shots that seem to be here just to show off the scenery. It’s all a prelude to contrast the dirty, bloody scenes which are to come of course. Once the gang find themselves captured by the villains things are very different, and there are a lot of decaying buildings and grimy underground rooms. There’s also 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 rape and murder. 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, 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 strange room. It 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 online connection chairs 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 about drinking. It could be a bit of regional flavour, though I’m afraid it’s lost on me. It’s still pretty weird and gross of course, even if the amount of bottles they sell (and the number of people killed) makes the operation seem a little unfeasible.

killbillies-2

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 some time and care has been put into these things at least. It all comes together to create a reasonable horror story atmosphere. The props in the cave are also detailed and get plenty of filthy close-ups. Still, the design of the villains is the standout, even in early moments. One in memorable scene involves the crew stopping at the side of the road, where a strange old hag starts laughing maniacally. She tells Blitcz their liquor is only for sale to real men, and the sense of unease generated is pretty strong.

Unfortunately not everything works I’m afraid. A lot of it seems rushed and some of the sets are underused, particularly the creepy house above the distillery where the victims are stored. There’s really no need to use the woodland so frequently if it’s just to shoot a few clichéd chase sequences. On the other hand when things are slowed down 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 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, resorting to these kind of badly paced suspense moments. It’s all been done to death in 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 when they’re in the basement. 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 carry a knife only to leave it behind when another weapon was available, doesn’t anyone else need it? Perhaps I’m over analysing this for what it is, but these moments stand out. In the end no more than the sum of its parts. It includes all the glorious practical gore you could ever ask for, and there are a few interesting scenes that stand out. Just don’t expect anything truly original in the grand scheme of things.

Rating: ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆

Avatar photo
About Mocata 146 Articles
A sucker for classic epics, 80s science fiction and fantasy kitsch, horror, action, animation, stop motion, world cinema, martial arts and all kinds of assorted stuff and nonsense. If you enjoy a bullet ballet, a good eye ball gag or a story about time travelling robots maybe we can be friends after all.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*