Editor’s note: Icons of Fright friend, Derek Smith (No relation) took a look at this one for us, and gave us his thoughts on BILLY CLUB, a new indie horror film. Check out Derek’s review!
While baseball season is wrapping up as fall rolls in, BILLY CLUB is ready to be unleashed to the public. A slasher written and helmed by Drew Sosas and Nick Sommer, BILLY CLUB follows a group of friends reuniting 15 years after a set of gruesome murders tore their Little League team apart. In 1981, two of their teammates, as well as their coach, are slain by their teammate Billy, who had just lost their championship game for the team. Now, while Billy is rotting away in a mental institution, someone dressed up in an antique umpire’s mask is taking care of the rest of the team in 1996.
Bobby returns home after many years away, running into Allison, who is now bar tending. Danny and Kyle, former teammates as well stop by after a game. The quartet quickly gets to reminiscing about the good times they had together while on the field, while trying to forget the horrific events 15 years prior. Eventually, memories of the murders stay at the forefront and they decide to have a memorial weekend for their lost teammates and coach. Sadly, the masked umpire with a makeshift spiked bat decides to crash their festivities.
BILLY CLUB has a great storyline for a revenge/slasher flick, and does a decent job of rolling it out, not revealing everything too quickly, even including a few red herrings along the way. It uses flashbacks to reveal other kills by the umpire well. The scenes where we see how the kids pushed Billy towards his breaking point are effectively done, being some of the more realistic acting scenes. Where you may not expect much from younger actors, no matter what budget the film, the child actors in BILLY CLUB did a great job.
The kills throughout were effective, not too over the top, and had just the right amount of gore with practical effects. Thankfully, Sommer and Sosas avoided using CGI blood to paint the fields red, and instead opted for a more restrained approach. The majority of the film is framed well, making everything look great on the digital video format. The fact that it is a period piece set in 1996 also adds to the credibility of the slasher format, pre-Internet and proliferation of cell phones. They also did a good job with the soundtrack, making the songs sound like those from the mid-90’s.
While the overall storyline and the flashbacks were used effectively, the one drawback in BILLY CLUB, is the acting from the adult leads. Where Allison (Erin Hammond) and Bobby (Marshall Caswell) started out a little heavy handed, their chemistry grew as the movie progressed, however we didn’t see the growth in Danny (Max Williamson) and Kyle (co-director Nick Sommer). The bumbling duo were made as the comic relief section, but their approach to their scenes were overly campy, taking away any tension built by the stalking umpire. There was also some odd choices by the older sheriff, which confused me as to where the story was going, rather than entertain. Overall though, BILLY CLUB is a fun revenge/slasher tale that is perfect for kicking back, post-game with a beer or three.