Knucklebones (2016) [FrightFest 2016]

knucklebonesYears after a group of people is murdered in a clothing factory, a group of students goes to the warehouse to hunt for ghosts, finding only a box full of knucklebones with which they summon the titular character who proceeds to dispatch them and other visitors to the factory in violently gruesome ways. Writer/director Mitch Wilson creates an interesting, low-budget supernatural slasher with Knucklebones.

The story and characters are not the most original, but some of the touches added to classic tropes work well with the characters and the being chasing them.  Only one of the students gets a proper back story and more complete personality, which may give away a few of the upcoming things.  Her friends with whom she goes to the factory are more one note and definitely there to be carnage fodder which is not always a bad thing.  Wilson knew very well what kind of film he was making and went full steam ahead with a few clichés, some characters to kill, and a killer that this reviewer had not seen before.

The cast here is highly uneven.  Lead Neesa Avery as Julin does well, she makes for an interesting girl to watch go through the ordeals put in from of her.  She’s the clear lead and gets the best arc.  On the other end of the spectrum, actress Katie Bosacki as Samantha, Julin’s best friend, gives possibly the worse performance this reviewer has seen in while.  She alternates between wooden and just plain off key.  Her part is not particularly well developed but it’s also not very hard to figure the bestie part and make the most of it.  The part of the boogeyman, of the supernatural killer, here is played by Tom Zembrod who has a good onscreen presence and does menacing well.  His walk is a bit odd, but given that he’s not seen walking too much, it’s not a big issue.

The character of Knucklebones depends a lot on his design and effects.  The design for his mask or face is not something this reviewer has seen before and originality of the design is interesting.  The effects team did really good on this design and its execution as well as on the kills.  These, without spoiling the surprise of the first, are bloody and cringe inducing in a good way.  They come quickly and are fairly ruthless.  Most of the other effects are also good with a few hiccups that are easily forgivable.

Knucklebones has an interesting killer, effective and satisfying kills, plenty of blood, and some good performances.  Not all is great but in the end, it’s all good as the film is fun and the killer has that slasher-y je-ne-sais-quoi.