Oh Knucklebones, oh dear sweet Knucklebones, you are a delectable morbid treat. Don’t misunderstand me, you have some scars on those knuckles but it’s because you have a few good punches in you. Okay, enough with the extremity quips, let’s talk about Knucklebones by Mitch Wilson (Kill it With Fire, Wheelmen). So I know I’ve already expressed some adoration for this film but don’t misunderstand me…it’s a pretty awful film…but, like in the best way possible…only not maybe the best but in a possible way. Anyhow, five friends break into an abandoned textile factory and awaken a violent demon when they roll a set of haunted dice made out of human knuckle bones (get it?). It’s a clever little spin on paranormal horror and it’s relatively unknown so it’s perfect for me to review. Lets get started!
The movie opens with Neesa Avery (Julin, The Final, Cherry Bomb; and I know right, like who does she think she is? Cher? One name? Aight then 💅) being broken up with by her fiance at a carnival. It was super lame. Either the file I streamed was lagging or the ADR was excessively atrocious in this scene. Just did not match the atmosphere and looked loosely dubbed on top. I’m gonna let it slide and say it was lag but I think we all know the truth judging by the acting that follows and continues throughout most of the 85 minutes of generously sub par acting (Like every character, not just a couple). Anyways, this leads Neesa to try and commit suicide where she goes to hell briefly, meets a malevolent demon named Knucklebones, and then is revived in a hospital only for her friends to bring her to an abandoned factory where 40 years prior, Knucklebones was unleashed on a group of overnight textile workers and then decades prior to that Nazis experimented on paranormal shit and Knucklebones was created (I think that’s the order of things. It’s all within the first five minutes so again, STFU about “spoilers”, I’ll warn ya if I’m about to drop a real one). And of course, the vicious cycle of death repeats itself when the group finds the knuckle bones and decides to play a game. It feels blatantly reminiscent of an attempt at the inception type horror The Conjuring has coined. At least, again, that’s where I think they meant to go with that. I’ll admit, Nazi scientists being literally ripped in half is a fun beginning but it takes a minute to fully connect those dots and realize the point.
So Knucklebones is basically a badass mixture of Jason Voorhees body, Freddy Kruger’s award winning personality and one liners, and Hell Rider’s face but covered in moss or some green stuff instead of on fire. He’s quite enjoyable and hands down the best part of the entire film. Played by Tom Zembrod of Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, and Howler fame, Knucklebones is somewhat of a metaphysical masterpiece (again, this movie is not). He embodies and emulates several of our most beloved mythic murderers while maintaining his own unique personality. It’s just too bad they cast a bunch of Dudley Dursleys for him to kill. Regardless, the kill count and variety of brutal dismemberment and bone cracking and people splitting and horrific practical gore is quite impressive. They bring in some random abandoned place looters for some gratuitous sex and to double the kill count so I appreciate the gesture of good will. It’s like “hey man, sorry for the acting.”
So let’s get to the acting. I won’t spend too much time on it, probably just as much time as they spent rehearsing (ZIIIIING!). I digress, IT’S TERRIBLE. Like really bad. No excuses type of bad. Eat an edible and smoke two joints before/during enjoyment type of bad. The kills ironically keep this film from rolling over and dying. But whatever, it’s just a shame because Knucklebones has so much sequel potential but the execution of his debut was a little less than and I don’t really see it getting a franchise. But you never know, right?
Okay, plot. The plot is kinda cool with the layering of death. It gives it a sense of lingering doom and follows the beloved trope of evil born from evil residing within evil made popular by The Conjuring (and now Mitch Wilson can even classify this baby as a Nazi horror film, paranormal film, demonic apparition film, satanic film, slasher film…he’s hitting almost every horror subgenre. It’s quite ambitious). The execution, pun always intended, was a little sloppy, however, and kind of just thrown in our faces with a bombardment of expository dialogue from bad actors. It felt like a lot of attempts with only a few successes.
So aside from some seriously laughably clichéd characters like the jokester jock, the slutty party girl, the sensitive male alternative, and the damaged goods,(generally referred to as the “final girl”) Knucklebones is worth watching if not only to see some girl get split in half tits out riding a coked out plunderer in an abandoned factory. Oddly yet masterfully gruesome scenes like that are what make this movie entertaining and not just another failed attempt. Don’t get me wrong, I would highly support recasting and reshooting but if you’re stoned, the horrible performances are almost endearing…but just almost.
IMDB: 5.2/10 (33 votes) ⬅certified obscure
Rotten Tomatoes: 🍅No Critic Rating 🍿50%
DEAD🐶PUPPY: 2 knuckle bones/5 (tehehe it works)