Review: KNUCKLEBONES (2016)
Evil Nazi occult experiments, an even worse demon, a building where a mass killing occurred, a game whose parts include human bones and some bored and horny college students. It must be a throwback to 80s VHS horror. Is KNUCKLEBONES a worthy rental, or best saved for bargain night when nothing else is in?
Beginning with a prologue showing how the Nazis brought the demon into our world and then one showing the aftermath of his reappearing, the film takes its time about getting into the main plot while still giving us plenty of action.
Neesa (Julin SWEATSHOP, THE FINAL) attempts suicide after a romance gone bad. Her friends led by Samantha (Katie Bosacki) decide a late night party/ghost hunt is just the thing to lift her spirits. Once they find the container with tools to summon Knucklebones (Tom Zembrod THE HARROWING, SILHOUETTE) they can’t resist playing. Of course, once they realize it’s actually worked and the demon makes his appearance in a wonderfully gory manner, they’re a lot less happy. Neesa just might get to die after all.
KNUCKLEBONES makes no pretensions to be anything except what it is,
Writer/director Mitch Wilson (For We Are Many) keeps the film moving along quickly for the most part. Which is good because the dialogue scenes tend to be dull, and the acting is pretty awful. Knucklebones himself is an effective villain, looking like Jason from one of the later FT13 films while spitting out Freddy Krugeresque one-liners. When one would be hero thinks he’s got the upper hand and boasts “I thought this would be a lot harder” Knucklebones responds with “That’s what she said!”
The effects are frequent, bloody and effective. They looked to be practical as well, no obvious CGI blood spray to ruin the kills. There’s all manner of stabbings, impalings, and even some fun with a chainsaw. And the way the demon manifests itself is not only gross and painful-looking, but pretty unique as well. Zembrod also deserves a lot of credit for not just walking through the role but actually acting under the makeup, he brings the demon to life as it were. As a result, Knucklebones is one of the few recent horror villains I wouldn’t mind seeing again. If Wilson was looking to start a franchise, he may well get his wish.
If you like your horror deep and serious, Knucklebones may not be for you. But if you want a fast-paced, effects-filled romp with much more boobage than brains, this is your film. It’s available now on VOD from Midnight Releasing. And if Blockbuster was still around, it would be a featured new release.