Killbillies (aka Idyll) Review

A hicksploitation slasher from Slovenia of all places

Few movies out of Slovenia hit the international market, much less horror movies. Writer and director Tomaz Gorkic changes that with Killbillies. With a goofy name like Killbillies, you almost expect a silly horror comedy that winks at itself. What you get instead is a stridently raw slasher about rural maniacs, set in the forests of Eastern Europe.

Two models from the city,┬áZina (Nina Ivanisin) and her friend Mia (Nika Rozman), go on a photo shoot out in the countryside, only to be confronted by deranged hillbillies. Thus begins a derivative nightmare taken from a miss-mash of American horror films like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wrong Turn. This is low-budget filmmaking from a new director, taking elements from his favorite movies. There is no real hook for American audiences in Killbillies with a completely unknown European cast. There’s nothing wrong with their performances. It simply gets hard becoming emotionally involved about unknown actors playing characters you’ll likely never see again.

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While Killbillies has its moments, horror fans have seen it all before in some form. Nasty, bloodthirsty hillbillies terrorizing city folk is classic genre fodder. Does Killbillies (aka Idyll) make things interesting enough for this tired formula? The Slovene movie is not without its charms. The vaguely unsettling Euro setting and the film’s city slickers versus rural dwellers conflict is pulled off with enough veracity. Add in excellent prosthetic work on the demented hillbillies, there is enough suspense in it to pass the time. Those looking for a clever, new spin on the hillbilly slasher should look elsewhere.

It’s a grueling film made for horror fans but could have been improved at the script level

As can be seen above, the plot is very simple and mostly predictable if you have seen a wide range of American horror. Despite the short running time, scenes develop agonizingly slowly. That pacing hurts Killbillies as a brutal thriller built for suspense. There are some nice set pieces for gorehounds, including a very convincing scene involving a torture rack. While Killbillies isn’t completely torture porn, Gorkic has definitely seen Eli Roth’s Hostel. Its best moments involve effectively staged chase sequences with the hulking hillbilly attempting to finish off his prey.

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I’d love to give Killbillies an enthusiastic recommendation with its proper genre nods. However, the low-budget Euro movie is too derivative and drags when the action slows down. It’s a grueling film made for horror fans but could have been improved at the script level. Tomaz Gorkic shows a keen understanding of how to construct a horror film but its paper-thin script needed more development.

Killbillies is raw, unpolished Euro horror that pays homage to great American horror films. Its heart is in the right place, making for a passable night of entertainment if you are in the right mood.

Cult distributor Artsploitation Films has put Killbillies out on DVD and VOD services. The 2015 movie from Slovenia comes with English subtitles on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. It is unrated.

Full disclosure: This DVD was provided to us for review. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about our editorial process.