Bringing Horror to Slovenia: Tomaž Gorkič on Killbillies
By Sotiris Petridis.
Killbilllies (original title: Idila, i.e., Idyll), a harrowing tale of abduction, violence and hoped-for survival, is Slovenia’s first ever horror movie. It features a group of fashionistas from the city, including models Zina (Nina Ivanisin) and Mia (Nika Rozman), make-up artist Dragica (Manca Ogorevc) and photographer Blitcz (Sebastian Cavazza, 2006’s Short Circuts), who begin to shoot on an idyllic countryside hilltop. Soon two physically deformed psychopathic countrymen approach them and quickly attack. After the terrified group finds themselves chained in a basement and awaiting their gruesome fate, they decide they must fight no matter what the odds. Director Tomaž Gorkič checked in with Film International to discuss his film.
Killbillies is the first Slovenian horror film. How difficult was to do a horror film in Slovenia?
I think it was no harder than any other movie from Slovenia. You see, Slovenia is really small country, with really small market and of course, with small investments.
What inspired you to film that story?
Society around me. Slovenia is advertised as a beautiful and nice country. Nature in Slovenia is beautiful, but people are not so nice. And of course in Slovenia we got a really big problem with alcohol. For me, the one plus one equaled two.
The narrative of the film has a lot in common with classical slasher films, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and more recent ones like Wrong Turn (2003). What horror films influenced your aesthetic choices in this film?
Of course it takes place in the backwoods genre and two of the basics of this genre are Deliverance and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but I don’t think it is really a slasher. We didn’t have such a quantity of blood that it could be called a true slasher.
The term “Final Girl” refers to the last woman alive to confront the killer, and according to Carol Clover, the creator of the term, she is typically sexually virginal and avoids the vices of the victims like illegal drug use. Do you consider your main character as a Final Girl?
Not really. More like a person confronted with harsh surprises in life, which is generally hard. Zina drinks alcohol, smokes cigarettes, curses like a truck driver and for sure, she is not virgin.
Is your main killer influenced by famous horror icons from well-known films, or did you want to make an original Slovenian horror icon?
I tried to make an original Slovenian horror icon. Francl (Lotos Sparovec) has no mystical super power. He is just a vicious drunk with an ax and a deformed face. And if you count corpses, you will find out that someone else also killed the same amount of people in the movie. So you got at least two killers, but there could also be a third hidden killer.
Tell us about the unusual ending of the film, without spoiling too much.
I don’t consider Francl to be the main killer, and Zine just kills one of the killers. We are all born to die at the end.
The photography of the film has a central role in the aesthetic style of the narrative. As a director, what were the instructions and advice to the director of photography in order to achieve this aesthetic style?
Let’s find one of the most breathtaking places in the Slovenian mountains and forests. And I think we were quite successful. Of course we were also short with money in all other departments, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.
What was the most challenging moment for the actors and for you during filming?
For Lotos and Jurij it was, for sure, the prosthetic masks everyday. For Nina and Nika it was getting into their characters, because both of them are something completely different in their life. For me…hard to say. Everything and nothing.
What part of making this film did you enjoy the most?
Every part, but never mix pleasure with work.
What’s next for you?
To answer in the next interview. I’m joking. Soon I will finish short science fiction thriller called Apoptosis, in which the future belongs to a corporation. And right now I’m also in the middle of raising funds for my next feature film, a psychological thriller with elements of horror and drama.
Sotiris Petridis is a Ph.D. Candidate in Film Studies at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and has been awarded a scholarship from Onassis Foundation for his studies. He is currently teaching Film Theory and Television History at Aristotle University as part of his doctoral studies. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.