The plot of Blackstock Boneyard has its roots in the 1913 conviction and eventual execution of Thomas and Meeks Griffin, two wealthy black farmers for the murder of a veteran of the Confederate army. A murder they didn’t commit and were eventually exonerated of in 2009. This being a horror film, a posthumous pardon is not nearly enough to even the score.
Director Andre Alfa and writer Stephen George‘s story picks up in 2013 as Judge Carroll Johnson ‘CJ’ Ramage (Terry Milam, Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot, Deepwater Horizon) the grandson of the judge that sentenced the Griffins to die is about to close a lucrative deal on the land that once was their farm.
There’s just one problem, his lawyer (Jonathan Fuller, The Pit and the Pendulum, Castle Freak) has found another heir to the property, Lyndsy (Ashley Whelan, The Houses October Built) and she’ll have to be convinced to sell. But as she and her friends arrive in town an objection to the sale is being raised, from the grave.
Blackstock Boneyard’s publicity compares it to Candyman, and the two films do have their obvious similarities. But this film has much more in common with The Fog. The Griffin brothers don’t have to be summoned, they return on the hundredth anniversary of their conviction to get revenge on the descendants of those that killed them.
Unfortunately, Blackstock Boneyard has none of the subtlety or shading of either of those films. The townspeople of Blackstock are out and proud racists who sit in the local bar raising toasts to “White Power”. Sheriff Brice (Creek Wilson, Hallowed Ground) boasts about his great uncle being the Griffin’s executioner. An attempt at a lynching however runs afoul of the reanimated brothers.
They were wrongfully executed for a crime they didn’t commit and had their 138 acre farm stolen from them by the town judge and a few others. Everything other than them coming back from the dead really happened.Andre Alfa director of Blackstock Boneyard
The film is set in South Carolina, although for some reason the trailer says Louisiana which is where it was filmed. I’ve lived in South Carolina and I have to say that while racism was rampant at the time, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it’s portrayed here. And I’d like to think it’s gotten better in the years since then for that matter. Blackstock Boneyard takes it to almost cartoonish levels at times, which undercuts the message it’s trying to get across.
Worst of all, it lets the story get so sidetracked by this, along with some workplace sexual harassment and police brutality issues, that it forgets it’s a horror film for most of its eighty minutes. Apart from the interrupted lynching, we don’t see the walking dead until the last half hour. I’m all for a bit of social commentary in genre films, but not to the point they take the film over.
In the last half hour, Blackstock Boneyard does manage a few good scenes, and some bad CGI, as revenge is meted out. There are a couple of moments that don’t make sense but, as with Death Ranch, it’s always fun to see some klansmen meet a bloody end.
Blackstock Boneyard should have been a lot better, but I’ve seen a lot worse lately as well. If you can deal with all the drama that comes before it, the last half hour might make it worth your while.
Blackstock Boneyard premieres on DVD and Digital on June 8th from Uncork’d Entertainment. You can check their Facebook page for more information. There’s also a website for the film, under its original title, Rightful.