Thursday, October 26, 2017

"Bonehill Road" (2017) Review

Underground legend Todd Sheets (writer/director/editor) wears his influences on his sleeve. I like to picture him making a movie like a chef, standing in front of a big ol’ boiling pot, throwing comfort food ingredients in, and then, just as things boil, he throws some “special spices” into the mix and makes the soup wholly his own, tearing down the familiar and taking the participants for a ride they NEVER expected.  His new film, “Bonehill Road” is exactly like that!

Combining elements from the greatest werewolf films like: “The Howling”, “Ginger Snaps”, “An American Werewolf In London” and “Dog Soldiers” among others, “Bonehill Road” seems familiar, then the director throws some of that patented (or it should be!) Todd Sheets stank on the proceedings and conventions go out the smashed, blood spattered window.

Mother and daughter Emily and Eden (Eli DeGeer and Ana Plumberg) are fleeing a domestic violence situation and soon hit a strange animal on the highway. Growls, scratches and a chase ensues (Hey! I’m trying to keep this spoiler free, okay?) and the harried duo soon find themselves seeking refuge in a less than ideal place—think the dinner scene in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” with more sick, sexual undertones. With the help of Tina (the uber talented Millie Milan), Lucy (indie horror bombshell  Dilynn Fawn Harvey) and Suzy (Linnea Quigley, who shows up long enough to school lesser “Scream Queens” on who the OG bad-ass REALLY is), our heroines soon find themselves up against not only a psychopathic Lothario (Douglas Epps), but also some hungry lycanthropes waiting outside.

Gritty, brutal and fast paced, “Bonehill Road” brings the miasma of shock cinema that we’ve come to expect from Sheets. At times artsy, atmospheric and blackly comic, Sheets never lets the viewer relax into any of these elements without  eventually reminding them that he has one foot firmly planted in gut-bucket, Fulci-esque gore. And that’s what we, as genre fans, love about him. He’s one of us, and he makes movies that he (and by association, we) wants to see.  Sheets keeps getting better with each film. I’m, by no means, familiar with all of his body of work, but from what I’ve seen, this guy has a passion for horror. And “Bonehill Road”, no matter what tangent it may veer off on temporarily is an abject horror film!

It features great performances, gritty story-telling, practical effects,  plenty of gore, some real terror inducing moments, and some World class werewolves. While there’s no high tax bracket Rick Baker style transformations, Harvey’s, in particular, looks genuinely painful, and the end product just shits all over the cuddly thing Dee Wallace became in the final act of “The Howling”. Kudos to GFS-FX and everyone involved in the creature creation!

All in all, and without giving too much away, one gets the feeling that “Bonehill Road” is exactly the film Todd Sheets set out to make. Brutal, unflinching, entertaining, frightening and metal-as-fuck, “Bonehill Road” is destined to become, much like it’s creator, a legend in indie cinema. The bar has been raised.

9/10—Scream King Tom