Thank you, Todd Sheets. Thank you for being one of the only film-makers to do a werewolf movie, let alone a werewolf feature, in 2017. It was a subgenre that rose to prominence during a time of ghosts, mummies and vampires, but it’s died off in the last ten years aside from the action-thriller saga Underworld. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I have a soft spot for the hairy beasts, and that I was beyond excited to receive a screener of Sheets’ new movie – Bonehill Road. The title is perfect, and it instantly filled my head with visions of werewolves attacking unsuspecting motorists on a long, country road. My preconceived notions were partly true, but Bonehill Road is just as much a psychological-thriller and drama as much as it is a snarling, clawing monster movie. Based on the screenplay by Sheets, this movie follows a mother and her young daughter as they escape her very abusive husband. Fleeing in their only possession, a car, they head for the safety of a relative’s residence only to stop on the infamous Bonehill Road. Almost immediately they are besieged by a gang of werewolves and seek shelter in the first house they come across. After breaking in, they discover that a worse evil lurks inside the walls of the big, country home. Now, the mother-daughter duo have to fight to survive the night as evil of all kinds attack them from all sides.
Bonehill Road starts like an independent Rob Zombie movie mixed with a retro horror style. To elaborate, it starts with a trashy atmosphere and violence against women, pictured on the screen in a way that makes the movie look and sound like a VHS title you would’ve found on the shelves of a Blockbuster Video. I was appreciative of the dark and zany mood, but the camera work was leaving a little to be desired. Luckily, Sheets was able to recoup camera quality and I have to say the rest of this flick looks pretty good for a B-movie. It’s funny, but I think the movie looks better at night than it does during the day, lighting and angles included. Hell, this production even snuck in an aerial shot or two. And, I loved that some of the scenes at night had fog in the background. It was a small, old-school horror touch that worked in a movie dealing with the topic of werewolves. In a press release for the movie, it was mentioned that Bonehill Road was produced on a budget of $14,000 like it was a bad thing. On the contrary, I think it’s rather inspiring and respectable that Sheets and his crew were able to pull off such a fun horror-drama that succeeds on every level. Bonehill Road hits the (silver) nail on the head every time, and I had a smile on my face while watching from start to Kiss tribute band finish.
And as I mentioned above, it has a lot more bite to it than I originally expected. The psychological trauma and drama the mother-daughter duo encounter is definitely an emotional punch not often found in independent horror movies, and I felt the story-line came full circle by the time they entered the creepy farm house. It gave them a window into their own lives while giving them something to believe in. Very clever script-writing from Sheets. The suspense was palpable the whole way through, but the biggest positive in regards to this movie lies with the major plot twist of adding another villain to the mix, one who makes the werewolves secondary attackers. His introduction makes a bloody break from creature-feature territory and jumps into the realm of an abduction and torture movie. Craziness all around. Lead and supporting actors Eli DeGeer, Ana Rojas-Plumberg, Millie Milan, Linnea QUigley, Douglas Epps (Dracula vs. Frankenstein, Satan’s Sadists), Dilynn Fawn Harvey, Gary Warner Kent and Aaron Brazier really had their work cut out for them in an emotional draining and psychological damaging splatterfest. Speaking of which, I’d like to mention that Linnea Quigley’s role wasn’t any longer than ten minutes long, but it demonstrates that the Scream Queen known for Return of the Living Dead and Silent Night, Deadly Night still has “it.” And although I’ve seen her in five titles in the last five years, I have to say her appearance in Bonehill Road is my favorite.
Obviously, the last thing I need to address is the actual werewolves, because that’s what’s going to make horror fans pick up this movie in the first place. All of the werewolves and all of the gore were made by use of practical effects, and the werewolves were incredibly manufactured. I’d like to think they’re a cross between what you see in An American Werewolf in London and season two of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” They’re fierce, scary and realistic while maintaining just the right level of nostalgic hokiness. They’re classic. Major props to all of the crew members responsible for this endeavor including the folks at Midnight Studios FX, Composite Effects, Marvin Blake, Paul Gill and Joe M. Castro. Now, the special effects range from fantastic to just about average, but usually they fell into the first category. I’m not surprised by this considering writer/director/producer/editor Todd Sheets is known for this material in previous flicks like Dead Things, Nightmare Asylum, Sorority Babes in the Dance-a-thon of Death and Zombie Rampage. With the help of producer Amanda Payton and studio Extreme Entertainment, I’d even go as far as to say Sheets has gotten better and stepped up his film-making game. There’s always room for improvement, but honestly, you can’t get an old-school werewolf movie any better than this one.
I’m glad to see werewolves alive in 2017. Bonehill Road is the best werewolf movie of 2017 and a testament to what can be accomplished on an independent budget. A stone-cold classic brought to life in the modern age of cinema. It’s a bloody, scary, hairy story that’ll have you howling with delight. Final Score: 8 out of 10.