I love seeing more countries getting into the horror game. It is great to get more content from different places. Some of it is quite good with its own unique flavor. It is great when you come across a new Trollhunter or Rare Exports. Our friends at Artsploitation are no strangers to bringing European horror to the US. They brought us the enjoyable Der Bunker and The Perfect Husband which we reviewed. Today, they return to our pages with the DVD of Killbillies.
I really had no clue what I was getting into with Killbillies. I didn’t even watch the trailer before popping it in. All I knew about the movie was from the cover. The cover features an axe and what you would assume is one of the Killbillies: a man with some facial…imperfections. Right from the cover, I expected something along the lines of a The Hills Have Eyes or Wrong Turn. So I figured I’d give it an honest shot.
We start off with a couple of girls and a photographer heading out to the Slovenian mountainside to take some pictures. No sooner do they finish setting up the Killbillies approach. This motley pair approaches the group with axe in hand and attitude up front. As a side note, I’d expect people to nope the heck out of there if I just walked up with an axe in a menacing manner. They challenge the photographer’s manhood while leering and grabbing at the women. On the other side, the photographer is trying to make peace and asks them what they want and how they can work out their concerns. The two Killbillies will have none of it and knock him out and take them all captives.
Next, we find ourselves in a cellar where they are all being held. The poor souls that these guys capture are thrown in the cellar for safe keeping while they beat and abuse them. Eventually, they will use the captives in the creation of their liquor, which they then sell to locals. It is all a pretty gruesome enterprise that these characters have built for themselves. Not wanting to become liquor herself, one of the girls (and our protagonist) Zina decides to escape. This is when we get the cat and mouse game of chase and fight for survival that comprises the third act of the movie.
Killbillies is probably less original and clever than the likes of Trollhunter or Rare Exports, but that doesn’t have to be a knock on it. Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hostel clearly influenced the filmmakers. The characters definitely feel a lot like something out of the TCM world. They are both off kilter and imposing. There is obviously something off about them from the moment you see them on screen. The holding cell for captives and the torture is very reminiscent of Hostel. When the torture started, I really thought I was going to watch torture for the rest of the movie. Fortunately, I was wrong.
The chase scene that concludes the movie is rather satisfying and probably the best part of the movie. At least as far as what you watch goes – more on that later. This part was shot and directed rather competently. The acting, while average for most of the movie, was probably best in this stage of the film. The antagonist is a bit over the top in some ways, but it really works for the character he is portraying. I won’t give away the ending, but they surprised me a good bit with an unexpected tonal shift. Kudos for being different.
Now, back to what I hinted at earlier. The single best part of the movie I my opinion was the sound design. The music and sound effects that were used throughout the movie really enhanced the mood. While the effects were effectively brutal and gruesome and the characters were menacing and mean spirited, everything is trumped by the audio. It keeps you tense as it leads up to the scenes that will make you cringe or when you fear for the protagonist and victims. The mayhem would only be half of what it is if the sound was done less competently. I’d probably rate this a full point lower with worse sound.
Supplemental Features and Packaging: 1.5/5
Trailer: Yay! But didn’t really expect anything else here…
At least, they went with a clear case instead of a standard black case. It’s the little things in life.
Killbillies Overall: 3/5
Hey, there isn’t anything special with this release. But why would we expect much else. This is a low-budget entry. And it is the first one out of Slovenia to hit the horror genre. What they offer in this package is good enough for what it is. The movie is decent. Sure, it wasn’t anything truly special, but certainly nowhere near bad. The sound design definitely raises its level a lot. Definitely worth checking out as a rental to see if it is your thing. I certainly think it will have fans and the filmmakers could surely have a future. I didn’t like Hostel, but I’m keeping this one.
It releases on DVD October 25th for those interested and you can buy from Amazon and other retailers.