New Horror Releases: Bonehill Road (2017) - Reviewed

After watching and reviewing director Todd Sheets' wildly entertaining exploitation film Dreaming Purple Neon, I had a chance to check out his new microbudget horror flick Bonehill Road. For those unfamiliar with the director and his work, he is considered a legend in the shot-on-video (SOV) subgenre. The SOV subgenre was born out of the VHS rental boom, which brought about a new breed of low budget filmmakers in the early 1980's that shot films on VHS with little to no budget. Sheets had essentially been retired since 2005, until suffering a heart attack. Surviving that event led to a comeback in filmmaking that started with House of Forbidden Secrets (2013), followed by last year's indie horror hit Dreaming Purple Neon. His follow-up is Bonehill Road, a werewolf film in the style of films like Howling that features all practical special effects. It is a wonderful and brutal ode to werewolf films of the 1980's that features magnificent practical effects, extreme gore, appearances from genre icons Linnea Quigley and Gary Kent, and very strong performances from Eli DeGeer and Ana Rojas-Plumberg. 

The story involves a mother and daughter escaping a violent situation, only to be caught up in another one. Stranded and hunted by werewolves, they discover that those beasts may not be the only thing that is terrifying in the woods. Out of his recent features, this one has the most developed plot and characters. Gone is the excessive exploitation stylings of his recent films, in place of a more grounded and realistic tale. That doesn't mean that it doesn't still pack a punch. It's fierce and visceral and tackles themes that are real and scary, as well as containing werewolves. 

The directing by Sheets is once again terrific and he knows how to make his films look better than the actual budget that he is afforded. This one was higher than usual at $13,700, thanks to an immensely successful IndieGoGo campaign. But, most of he budget went into the elaborate werewolf suits and practical effects that were used. His experience as a director lends to the inclusion of many great close ups, decent camera placement, and some nice scenic shots. The one thing that is different from the previous films is that it appears to be shot using a hand-held camera, so it is a little shakier. But, it adds an extra level of tension and throws you closer to the characters and the monsters. 

Anybody need a hand?

The acting is impressive for a microbudgeted horror film, especially from DeGeer and Rojas-Plumberg. Both deliver powerful performances. DeGeer plays the mother and is superb. After appearing in Dreaming Purple Neon, she once again packs a great deal of emotional depth into her portrayal of a damaged mother and survivor of domestic violence. Rojas-Plumberg surprises in her portrayal as the daughter, delivering the best performance in the film. Douglas Epps is delightfully creepy and weird in his role, any more information would spoil part of the plot. Linnea Quigley (Night of the Demons, Return of the Living Dead, Silent Night Deadly Night) and Gary Kent (Bubba Ho-Tep, Satan’s Sadists) also make minor cameo appearances. 

If there's one thing to expect from a Todd Sheets' film, it's that it will deliver excessive gore and violence. While not on the level of insanity that was Dreaming Purple Neon, Bonehill Road still packs in the gratuitous violence, splattering blood, and gross gore that we have come to expect. And let's not forget about the werewolves. They look fantastic, including an outstanding transformation scene. 

Bonehill Road is a resounding success that should please most fans of horror and the werewolf subgenre. It's a fierce and fast paced tale that features great practical effects, heaps of gore, and superb performances from DeGeer and Rojas-Plumberg. Plus, there's werewolves, lots of werewolves.

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