Director: Mitch Wilson
Year of release: 2016
Country of origin: USA
Running time: 85 minutes
DVD/Blu ray: DVD only
Tagline: "Roll the bones and say his name. You'll wish you didn't play the game".
Casting the spotlight on the slasher genre
Story: After being dumped unexpectedly by her boyfriend a young woman named Neesa attempts to commit suicide but is found in time and makes a recovery in hospital. When back at home she is invited along by her best friend to explore an abandoned factory with some other kids that is reputed to be haunted. Whilst inside the old building the gang hear voices which leads them to a wall which seems more recent than the rest of the warehouse. They break it down and in the space behind they find a collection of old Nazi war paraphernalia which includes a curious box of knucklebones. These bones when thrown onto a pentagram supposedly summon a demon. Needless to say they summon forth the demon which proves to be a fatal mistake as the wise cracking entity begins murdering anyone it can lay its skeletal hands on.
Good points: The knucklebones demon is satisfying enough in the looks department. He resembles death himself really being essentially a walking skeleton in tattered robes. He is also of the Freddy Krueger or Chucky persuasion in that he likes to deliver clever one liners either just before or after a kill which are entertaining more often than not. He doesn't have a very clear voice though so you have to listen pretty hard to pick everything up.
There is a good amount of gore with a solid effort being made to make the kills fun and entertaining. Some bits that stick out include a hand being cut off, someone getting split in two and something relating to a character being burnt. There are also some cool looking effects when the demon bursts out of the skin of a character which is something we see a few times.
The manner in which the final girl Neesa decides to deal with the demon and obtain the components to perform the ritual which will get rid of him is both clever and surprising. I didn't see it coming at all really and although it is a bit unrealistic that someone would do what she does it makes for a memorable start to the end sequence. I also enjoyed the little twist of sorts at the very end where Neesa's boyfriend (well ex boyfriend) puts in an appearance once again as he did at the start so he kind of bookends the film.
There is a light fun feel throughout with a very tongue in cheek approach from the over the top kills to the dumb but fairly likeable (and very good looking) cast to the jokes from Knucklebones himself. It never takes itself too seriously and remains ever watchable in a fun but mindless way.
Bad Points: Though the cast were generally entertaining and inoffensive the final girl Neesa was a bit of a funny one and I was never quite sure how I felt about her. She seemed sweet at times but at others maybe a bit arrogant or abrasive. I think I may have felt the same way about the girl from Happy Birthday To Me. Anyway this Neesa didn't really act like someone who was depressed and had recently attempted suicide when she was joking and bantering back and forth with her friends so maybe it was partly that which didn't sit well with me. Also she didn't have bandages on her wrists from the suicide attempt, well she did in the hospital but not afterward. Her wrists were covered by bangles and such so maybe we were supposed to infer they were hiding her scars but you would think she would be bandaged for a good while afterward. These little details can often be over looked in film though I guess as I recall the exact same issue with the religious girl in Psycho 3.
There were four characters who gatecrashed the warehouse about halfway through who were supposedly there to steal copper. Of course they were just present to up the body count but they felt under developed. I would have liked to have seen them given a few extra minutes of screen time to build them up a bit as it felt like they got killed off too quickly. Maybe one or two of them could have met up with Neesa and her group but they never got a chance. At least the deaths were fun though and one of the females provided some good nudity.
There was an odd bit shortly after the demon is first unleashed where the four remain kids are hiding as the demon walks past. They creep off unnoticed except for Travis who remains and attacks the demon. When the others make it outside though they seem puzzled as to where Travis is though they surely would have heard or seen him fighting the demon as he was with them only moments before.
The film is lame and cheesy at times and feels weak in terms of the plotting. I thought it was a bit silly they even went to the old warehouse as it hardly sems like the kind of place you would visit to cheer up a depressed person. They should have at least provided a stronger reason for them going there like perhaps saying that Neesa was really interested in the paranormal or something. Also in another cheesy moment, when trying to break down the wall early on, Adam lays out all sorts of tools that he wouldn't need for the job like pruning shears. These things later serve as weapons for the demon so did have a purpose but it was stupid hat he would lay all these things out that clearly wouldn't be any help in knocking down a wall.
Verdict: An entertaining supernatural slasher that could fit the bill if you are after something light and undemanding that you can switch your brain off with for a while. It was decent enough and lots of fun at times and I was unsure whether to grade it with a six or seven but went with a six in the end. That is probably a little harsh as I couldn't pick out anything truly major as to why it doesn't score higher but I try and stick with my gut instinct that I develop while watching the film and with that in mind a high six or a low seven seems about right.
Bodycount (contains major spoilers):
1) Scantily clad woman in 40's Germany: Used as a vessel and ripped apart by the demon. 2) German soldier #1: Bludgeoned with gun. 3) Long haired German officer: Possibly decapitated though it was so fast it was hard to tell. 4) German soldier #2: Face bashed in with a gun. 5) Female German: Off camera death, seemed about to be shot. 6) Mother in 70's Texas: Ripped apart as demon vessel. 7), 8) and 9) All bodies seen on the floor of the clothing warehouse in 70's Texas. 10) Kia: Used as demon vessel and ripped apart in the warehouse in the present day. 11) Travis: Cut apart through the groin with a chainsaw. 12) Woman urinating: Impaled through the throat on a pipe or something, was unclear if she just slipped and fell or if the demon pushed her. 13) Female having sex: Split down the middle with a pike type weapon. 14) Man having sex: Died shortly after his partner, maybe due to his penis being cut off though it was hard to follow. 15) Bearded copper thief: Eye burnt with a blow torch. 16) Bill: Head carved open with some sort of axe. 17) Adam: Stabbed/impaled from behind with a machete. 18) Sheriff: Killed off camera. Throat maybe torn out 19) Ryan: Used as a vessel for the demon, ripped apart. 20) Samantha: Impaled from behind with some sort of long spear which comes out of her mouth.