Here’s one we haven’t seen before. In Billy Club, members of a Little League baseball team with a tragic past reunite fifteen years later…only to be hunted down by someone in an umpire’s mask using a spiked baseball bat as a weapon. Ouch! And Ew!
Oh yeah. The kills in Billy Club are pretty dang gory. It’s also loaded with homages to slashers. The intro shows the killer making the weapon, harkening back to Elm Street. The first tragedy happened in 1981, the period of the original slasher boom. Fifteen years later, it’s 1996, the year of Scream. The cast looks like it walked off the set of Clerks. There’s an appearance by Mark Metcalf, best known for his roles in Animal House and the Twisted Sister videos. And of course, the kids head to a cabin in the woods.
What do you wanna do with your life?
While the look and feel of the film deliver a classic slasher experience and the general plot is straightforward, Billy Club has plenty of fresh stuff going on…and a seriously convoluted twist. It’s a challenge to piece together what has actually transpired due to jumps in time, unclear distinctions between which young actors in flashbacks are supposed to represent the older actors in present time, and an injection of situations that, while they might be entertaining, are mere distractions.
For starters, one person is killed in the intro scene. So when we meet our main characters, are told it’s 1996, and they talk about two kids and one coach being killed back in 81, we are already wondering WTF that first kill was all about. We see a thrilling pizza delivery boy kill that’s even reported on the news. There’s a flashback to a kill on Halloween. We have no idea what any of them have to do with our group of friends until much later on when we are finally clued in that there are a whole bunch of other Little League brats who didn’t make the reunion.
Other elements seem to be in place to hint at who the killer might be, but they just manage to baffle further. There’s a sequence involving a weirdo sheriff hauling one of the characters to prison for the night and locking him in with a crazy guy. Unless I ran out of the room to get a cherry cola and missed something, it seems the kids dig up the grave of who they think is doing the killings (appearing to imply they buried the person to keep it a secret), yet based on flashbacks, that person did not die fifteen years before, nor did they bury him. He was sent to a loony bin. Because of the oddly timed and sequenced placement of hints, at one point I was even convinced the bed from the mental institution somehow found its way into the cabin!
Maybe it will make more sense if I have some shrooms.
You kind of have to let all the confusing plot points go in order to just appreciate the slasher fun (then watch the movie again to see everything fall into place in your head). One of my favorite scenes involves one character accidentally getting high on mushrooms and heading off into the woods alone. We trip along with him and his reactions to being chased by a killer are quite funny. I wouldn’t call this a horror comedy, but there’s plenty of dark, quirky humor for sure.
Plus, the leading man is a cutie, so it’s no surprise his buddies make several gay jokes about him through the course of the film. But he does have sex with a female character, which offers a treat for all persuasions because they both get shirtless.
But most surprising is a very intense moment of sexual tension between two men that comes complete with a very passionate kiss. While anyone uncomfortable with male-on-male desire might laugh awkwardly (cringe, more likely), the scene is in no way played for humor and is rather sad in its exploration of a closeted man’s oppression of his own desires. It’s impressive to see a slasher present such an emotional exploration of gay sexuality. It even stands true to the way gay issues were just beginning to find a voice at the very time the movie takes place.
Jay and Silent Bob are my heroes.
However, there’s one aspect of Billy Club viewers will ponder more than anything. When the final girl is being chased by the killer, she begins to throw rocks at him. Considering she’s an ex-Little League team member, you can’t help but wonder, why does she throw like—well, saying “a girl” would be sexist, so I’ll say—a gay.