Bonehill Road (2017) REVIEW – Biteless

Bonehill Road

October is over, but I’m still in the mood for some horror films, and a good werewolf movie sounds like it is just the thing to round out the season. The first thing the trailer made me realize was that Bonehill Road was low budget—it raised just over 20k on Indiegogo—but the premise it offered still excited me enough to give the film a shot.

I immediately regretted my decision while sitting through the incredibly long intro with the same still shot behind it, and began to wonder if that many people could have actually worked on this project. The end credits though—which seemed unnecessary after that intro—made me realize that many of these names repeat. This intro serves more as an example that the movie itself is an hour and twenty-six minutes that could be better spent, unless someone wants to take my route and make others watch it with you for the laughs.

“Son of a bitch, why do I keep paying money for this thing?”

The camera work and editing are both all over the place, from odd close-ups and unnecessary lingering moments to what feels like a misuse of establishing shots as well as transitions. Everything is bright and visible, but also distracting in some sections. While my wife made a case for the songs used at the end of the movie and I loved the addition of Blue Moon, the soundtrack for the rest of the experience sounded like it was lifted from the game Nightmare Creatures, and the effects seemingly from that same PS1 era set of tones. I find the noises of someone eating makes my skin crawl in the real world and somehow a particular scene in here caused that to be even worse with its effects. The presentation overall was an entangled, inconsistent ride that had its ups and downs.

This also applies to whoever was responsible for continuity here, as there are several screw-ups early on, but the big obvious one revolves around one of the main character’s blood and bruises, as they get better or worse depending on the shot and even switch sides at one point. This seems like an odd slip, when one of the biggest praises I have for Bonehill Road is its excellent practical gore effects. There is a fantastic werewolf transformation scene showing off the practical effects that conveyed the pain (and possible ecstatic pleasure?) of growing and changing one’s skin—until it takes this abrupt turn at the end and makes the new creature look like someone’s well-crafted fursona. It’s like you can see the moment where they decided to make it sexier and let me down drastically.

It does get gory later on, once the characters reach the house, but before that I simply thought I was watching a more adult episode of Goosebumps. There is also some nudity that is meant to be a bit uncomfortable, but is used several times, cutting down on the impact. The story isn’t bad, using a couple of more recent tropes when it introduces a secondary antagonist who is almost worse than the monsters. He’s a psycho who reminds me of the hippie teacher from Beavis and Butt-Head if he had just snapped one day, but tries almost too hard to be creepy and it only works in a couple of moments.

There is a lot of chance for the gore, as these are some of the most ineffective werewolves I’ve ever seen when it comes to killing and many of the characters take a tremendous beating before they finally die. The two main protagonists suffer from this a bit as well, not seizing the opportunities to escape or take out the threats. It’s almost excusable, but too humorous. I found myself laughing at several parts, especially those flashbacks, or when they end up using the axe as a hammer more than a weapon—grandpa does have a nice swing, though. Some of the violence is a tad slapstick in a few moments as well.

“Choke on it, motherfuckers!”

The psychopath, Coen (Douglas Epps), is a bit over the top but nails a few of his lines, and there are several throwaway actors that don’t seem to be into their roles, especially with the odd crying. The two main characters, Emily (Eli DeGeer) and Eden (Ana Rojas-Plumberg), however, are fine and almost worth caring about. I can’t blame them for the sections of bad dialogue and odd timing, but think a tighter script may have turned this movie around.

Bonehill Road is a perfect whirlwind of missed opportunity, and one needs only look at the post-credits scene to see that. This project had a lot of ambition, but seemed to miss the landing on several of the key scenes, coming so close to achieving something. This is a Todd Sheets film, veteran director of the horror genre, and a true fan of werewolf movies. More importantly, he is responsible for the upcoming Clownado, which sounds like a fantastic adventure. Sheet’s experience shines through in some parts and I wouldn’t mind giving his other works a chance, but if I think we should all stick to Wolf and Dog Soldiers for good werewolf movies for now.

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