Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Bonehill Road

Text © Richard Gary / Indie Horror Films, 2017
Images from the Internet

Bonehill Road
Written, directed and edited by Todd Sheets
Extreme Entertainment / Eclipse Video /
Fuzzy Puppy Filmworx / Lycanthrope Motion Pictures / MVD Entertainment
89 minutes, 2017

After a health hiatus, long-haired director Todd Sheets came back stronger than ever with the likes of House of Forbidden Secrets  (2013) and Dreaming Purple Neon  (2016). Now he’s dipped his toe into the waters of the even shaggier werewolf genre.

I haven’t seen many decent lycan films since Ginger Snaps (2000), though there have been the occasional ones like Sheep Skin  (2013) and Bubba the Redneck Werewolf (2014). No, I do not count the Twilight series as werewolf films, nor decent (though the first Underworld [2003] was okay).

My theory for the reason why werewolf releases are far and in-between is the cost of either the costumes or making digi versions. Most are full body suits, which tend to be cumbersome, or if digitized, take a full team to make it look good.

For this film, Sheets takes an interesting approach, asking us to question which is worse, the big bad trio of wolves outside the door, or the human monster inside with the knife and sadistic attitude. That is the predicament in which Todd has placed his main characters.

Anna Rojas-Plumberg and Eli DeGeer
Emily (Eli DeGeer) and her teenage daughter Eden (Anna Rojas-Plumberg) are on the run from one human monster, an abusive husband (Aaron Brazier, who has some great tats on his forearms, including Karloff’s Frankenstein’s Monster and Johnny Rotten Lydon). When their car is toast, in part due to the hairy trio, they wind up in a house with serial killer Coen (Douglas Epps) and his hostages, Tina (Millie Milan), Lucy (Dilynn Fawn Harvey), and Suzy (an extended cameo by Linnea Quigley).

Between our furry friends outside and the less hairy one inside, there is a lot of damage that happens to everyone involved, leading to tons of carnage and gore. Luckily, both of those are Sheets’ specialities, and so is a touch of nudity for which Harvey amply lends a – err – hand in that department.

Douglas Epps
While presented more as a werewolf flick, there is equally, if not more so, the dichotomy of what happens inside the house with the human monster as with the beasties without. That’s part of what makes this so interesting, rather than being just the dangers of a straightforward supernatural or shaggy human creature.

Also at the heart of the whole visual is that all of the effects and wolfie-poos are practical SFX rather than digital. Sure, the wolves kinda appear as people in full body costumes, but they actually look really good most of the time. The masks are also easily identifiable individually, so you know which is which. You can tell a lot of effort was placed into the costumes, which made me smile. As for the gore, other than sometimes the occasional innards looking a bit like pasta, the effects are quite well done. Sheets tends to show the carnage in extreme close-up, which is both fun for the viewer and I’m sure makes it easier for the filmmaker to use body doubles (which is totally forgivable if it works, which it does in this case).

Linnea Quigley (on the right)
Most of the acting is quite powerful. Other than the occasional over-emoting, such as Epps sporadic high-pitched maniacal laugh, the cast – including Epps – is pretty solid. As the two leads, Plumberg and especially DeGeer hold their own as strong women who are put in extraordinary circumstances. Even Quigley, who on occasion has had trouble with her boundaries (under- or overacting, as do her contemporaries, Brinke S. and Michelle B.), nails it here.

Generally speaking, there tends to be two types of werewolf films: the first is when the bearer of the curse becomes an out of control animal, such as in An American Werewolf in London (1981); the other is where they keep their wits and just like to screw with their prey, no matter what the form, like in The Howling (also 1981). This one falls into the latter category. While the werewolves, who were able to break through doors and rip a tire to shreds with a swipe of its claws, apparently could not seem to break through the windows of the house, even when banging on the glass – when I saw this, I said an audible, “Hunh?” – it was then pointed out to me by Sheets that the monsters were playing "cat and mouse" with the occupants. That makes a lot more sense to me.

IThe rest of the film looks great, with sharp editing and visuals. There is nothing really fancy here, no “artistic flares,” which suits me just fine. A meat and ‘taters creature feature is just what the witch doctor ordered for this Halloween.

If I had a wish, it would be the occasional dark humor here and there, but you know what, that’s my own thing and not the film’s fault. There are some nods, though, such as Quigley’s tee, a character named after Stephen Biro from Unearthed Films, another for Rolfe Kanefsky who recently directed The Black Room, and one called Tucker Woolf  

Of course, watch after the credits as an epilogue has become as nearly omnipresent as a prologue. As werewolfian cinema goes, this is pretty impressive and another positive notch on Sheets’ cinematic rap – err – sheet.

Trailer is HERE

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