(Weird) Watching with Alex, Episode 17: Killbillies

Idyll a.k.a Idila (Killbillies) [2015]
Directed/Written by: Tomaz Gorkic
Featuring: Nine Ivanisin, Lotos Sparovec & Nike Rozman
Produced by: Zoran Dzeverdanovic
Slovenian Film Center/Blade Production
Category: Hillbilly Horror

The Hills Have Beer Goggles…

Before we begin, I’d like to point out that this is Slovenia’s first horror film. Based on the results and the crew’s love of the horror genre, I see many good things ahead for Slovenian horror. I’ll also be going a bit more in-depth than I normally do plot-wise because I was that impressed. Onward!

The plot trope of urban youths venturing into the country to be mercilessly hacked to pieces by hill-folk has a long, noble, and predictable pedigree. But if you take that trope out of its more familiar settings (Most typically one that the greater American audience has no exposure to. I don’t think anybody I know would be able to show me Slovenia on a map.) and add a new ingredient to the recipe, you can still pull off a killer cocktail.

This brings us into Killbillies and amateur model Zina’s life, and right now all Zina wants to do is spend the night of getting sloshed out of her mind to forget her problems. One of her friends knows just the cure for her ills and calls for a round of shots from a big bottle bearing a spiral as its only identifying mark. It must be the strongest stuff in the house because it gets the job done.

I don’t know how Zina is able to get to her scheduled modeling gig the next day without flopping around like a fish but make it she does. She arrives at the house of her photographer, a fellow by the name of Blitcz, where she meets up with Dragica, another model scheduled for the shoot. The differences couldn’t be more obvious: Zina doesn’t come off as the typical movie model, with her dark, functional style and less-than-a-rat’s-ass attitude towards the general universe, while Dragica is your more standard brand of model, all blonde, chipper, and practically begging to get slaughtered by mutants. Together with Blitcz’s stylist Mia, the four drive out into the mountains looking for that perfect scenic backdrop.

Along the way they stop at a roadside stand for some alcohol. It’s less a stand and more of a table with strange things in jars run by an old woman and a weird guy with an accordion. Blitcz eyes the jars of “stuff” and meager offerings on the table before spotting a large bottle, and wouldn’t you know it, this bottle’s only identifying mark is a square of paper with a spiral drawn on it. The old woman won’t sell any of her alcohol to Blitcz, saying that “…this alcohol is for real men, not little snobs like you.” She then tells him to turn around and go back or “bad things will happen“. Blitcz gives the general “like what?”, to which the old woman cackles one of the most gloriously insane cackles that has ever graced my horror-viewing ears.

So of course when the four find their perfect location and start taking photos, bad things happen. An enormous man with the facial features of a raisin (Francl, pronounced “FRAN-cell) and his equally towering and lanky companion (Vintlr) come lumbering up through the fields, demanding to know what these city folk are doing on their land. Blitcz attempts to placate the hulking strangers who, further angered by the urban milk-drinkers, incapacitate them all in short order. Zina, Dragica, Mia and Blitcz regain consciousness inside of a dank stone room shuttered by a metal door. It’s a good bet that the paddles are irretrievable and they are now in The Shit.

The three women are just managing to get Blitcz coming around when Francl and Vintlr return. Blitcz tried to put up a fight but is promptly killed for his troubles and left broken on the stony floor while Mia is taken out of the room, leaving Zina and Dragica alone with the corpse and understandably panicked. Beyond the door, the two hill-folk have brought Mia into a makeshift laboratory of sorts. After being tightly strapped down to a large wooden platform and having her head secured, a hole is drilled into her skull and a small tube is fed into her head, then slowly rotated until she’s in diagonal head-down position which causes fluids from her head to flow into a series of contraptions, at the end of which it slowly drips into a bottle marked with a spiral label.

Oh yes, this ain’t your grandfather’s cannibalism. So who were last night’s drink on, and are Zina and Dragica next for the brain drain? Not if Zina has a damned thing to say about it, taking out Vintlr with a vengeance when he returns in an attempt to force himself on the two women. Now it’s a horrible game of cat-and-mouse as the two navigate the winding tunnels and old rooms of the crumbling structure the twisted brewers call home. It’s only a matter of time before Francl discovers that the two have escaped and is hot on their trail, and he has the advantage of knowing every inch of these tunnels and the surrounding hills. Will Zina and Dragica escape or will they become the next toast of the town?

Favored Ability: CHA. This movie is dark, ugly, rusted, moldy, and that couldn’t make for a prettier horror setting!

Rating: 4/5 (Above Average) [+2 Creepy Complexions, +1 Sinister Settings, +1 Implements of Destruction]

The story may follow Zina and the others but this is truly Lotos Sparovec’s movie. His hulking build, booming voice, and deep reverberating breathing more akin to the snuffle of a bear give Francl a.k.a “Raisin-Face” a screen presents that overshadows everything else, even when he’s not actually in frame. Combine that with the innovative way that he harvests his victims and the crumbling system of tunnels, houses, and rock faces, and you might just be looking at a new Cult Killer.

I’ve also seen quite a few horror movies of this breed wherein the victims are either eaten or turned into meat and sold, as happened in Lunch Meat, but this is the first one that I’ve seen where those unlucky enough to venture into the hills are turned into spirits of the potable kind. A very interesting spin on an established trope, that is. Here’s to your health- oh right, never mind. Cheers!

2 thoughts on “(Weird) Watching with Alex, Episode 17: Killbillies

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