REVIEW: Bonehill Road
– By Steven Hickey
It’s a real shame that, unlike vampire films, so few werewolf movies have lived up to the storytelling potential the legend offers filmmakers. The latest effort to try to stand out from a mostly lackluster crowd is Todd Sheets’ Bonehill Road.
It’s the story of a mother, Emily (Eli DeGeer) and daughter, Eden (Ana Plumberg) who flee an abusive father-figure and seek to start over. However, as they drive the back roads to Emily’s father’s (Gary Kent) house, Emily hits a large, furry creature with her car, an accident which sees not just one werewolf but a whole pack chasing them.
After an accident leaves their vehicle disabled, the pair seek sanctuary in a nearby house… only to swap one monster for another.
Sheets has plenty of films under his belt and this experience shows in Bonehill Road. It’s a low-budget picture, let’s make no bones about that, but Sheets and his talented cast and crew make their limited resources go a very long way. Arguably the film’s two biggest strengths are its great and very visceral effects and a pair of fantastic stand-out actresses in the leads.
Young Plumberg is quite excellent, playing Eden with a naive sensitivity that means audiences can’t help but root for her. She’s a very promising young scream queen in the making and I can’t wait to see more from her in the future.
The always wonderful DeGeer will already be a familiar face to many of you here at The Slaughtered Bird and she delivers once again. Hers is a complex role, both vulnerable and fierce, victim and protector, and she plays every facet of the character with convincing gusto. She’s always a pleasure to watch and the same holds true here in Bonehill Road.
The leading ladies are ably backed up by a powerhouse trio of superb actresses in Millie Milan, Dilynn Fawn Harvey and Linnea Quigley (yes, THAT Linnea Quigley).
The film is unflinching in its horrors, presenting some graphic and at times disturbing gore and violence. Too often low budget monster flicks suffer in this area, but the effects work is strong, the grimier, grainier look of the film somehow making them more sordid and disturbing. What’s more the movie boasts some superb costumes for its werewolves, even boasting an ambitious and impressive transformation sequence.
That’s not to say that the film always delivers. There are some minor issues with pacing, and perhaps the werewolf costumes, as good as they are, might have worked better if kept more in shadow and shown through quick cuts. Sadly, not all of the performances hit the lofty heights of the movie’s leads, but I’m sure the odd stilted line delivery is more a symptom of time constraints than any shortcomings on the cast’s part.
On the most part the plot is intelligent, even adding a decent and rare excuse for the lack of mobile-phone use rather than the eye-rolling cliche of ‘no signal’. Even so, now and then there are a couple of moments (mainly during a siege sequence late on in the film) that do strain credulity somewhat. I can’t help but feel these were the result of the screenplay calling for something that perhaps the crew were unable to deliver. However, these moments are quite rare and don’t provide too many barriers to enjoying what is actually a surprisingly polished movie.
Once again, I cannot stress enough that this is a low-budget indie monster movie. Genre fans used to the flash and fizzle of the type of glossy films from Blumhouse that get wide cinema releases may find the more rough-and-ready aspects of Sheets’ movie a bit of a turn-off, but those who are able to look past its limitations can expect an unnerving, disturbing and, at times, moving indie monster movie that is well worth your time.
With brains, heart and plenty of guts, Bonehill Road is one of those rare werewolf movies that actually delivers.