I’m such a total backwoods horror whore that if I ever ran into a gang of psychos in the middle of nowhere, I’d probably assume the position and squeal like a pig before I was even given the order. So I was psyched to see Artsploitation Films (love them) had a new flick out called Killbillies.
I’m surprised to report that it was sort of missing the “guts” of what makes my favorite backwoods horror flicks so gritty. While it is well crafted, I feel I would have been more satisfied if I’d just re-watched Wrong Turn or something. Killbillies is almost like backwoods horror lite in that not much actually happens!
After an intro scene demonstrating that our final girl is a tough bitch, a small modeling party – 3 women and 1 man – heads to the hills for a photo shoot. Soon after, a couple of deformed hillbillies approach them, and this is where the film becomes frustrating.
With plenty of warning of the possible threat (they can literally see it coming from a mile away), and a ratio of 4 to 2, this group pretty much just stands there and accepts its fate as the victims. In fact, we only see one person attacked before the film cuts to all four in some sort of cave. WTF?
Killbillies feels like an underdeveloped script and a rather sterilized backwoods experience. We have only 2 hillbillies and only 4 victims. One character is subjected to something awful involving tubing and lots of heat, but it’s unclear what’s happening. When it’s over, all you know is, apparently you can make liquor out of humans.
Granted, I understand that some people may shut down in the face of fear, but this film always has its characters outnumbering a couple of sloppy hillbillies just asking to be overpowered, and they never do it! With so few main characters, the body count is very low, and the kills are gory but quick—no prolonged gruesomeness beyond that first victim’s confusing demise.
Even after we’re down to the final girl, there’s just no energy or suspense. She literally hobbles casually around the woods making it safely from one location to the next in between sudden surges of strength when she fights enemies.
The hillbillies don’t seem to put much effort into being terrifying either. At one point, the main girl simply strolls out of her “prison,” is warned by a hillbilly that “No one ever gets out of here alive,” and then simply climbs out a nearby window. Seriously? No one ever got out alive from a prison two measly hillbillies don’t guard in a building with escape windows they never bothered to board up?
In the end, it feels like the goal of Killbillies was to stand out from the rest of the backwoods horror pack by simply getting to its ironic finale – which ties back to the beginning of the film – as quickly and easily as possible. Short of some really good gore when the final girl is getting revenge on her lazy captors, there’s just not enough going on here. We don’t even have time to connect with her, particularly because quite frankly, she’s painted as a standoffish snob. This one feels like it would work best as foreplay in a backwoods marathon.