From WorldFilmGeek Hall of Famer Harley Wallen comes this thriller that pits city folks starting life anew against a psychopathic backwoods family.
Dr. Lucas Vanderbilt has grown tired of city life. After the passing of his wife, he has re-married with Sarah and decides to move to a small town to start a new life. This comes to the chagrin of his teenage daughter Cassie, who doesn’t get along with Sarah. Upon their arrival, Lucas is met with a bit of disdain from the locals and even Cassie, continuing in her rebelliousness, heads to a local bar. There, she nearly gets confronted by some drunks until locals Anna and Tucker help her.
Anna and Tucker bond with Cassie and tell her of a urban legend in their town. It involves a backwoods family, the McKinleys. They may be responsible for the disappearances of girls in town. When they are aware of their possible hideout, they head to an abandoned cabin. There, Cassie discovers a tape which has a victim of the family chained and tortured. When the McKinleys show up, Cassie is able to escape but both Anna and Tucker become their latest victims. Cassie tries to convince her father what had happened. At first, he’s reluctant, until he discovers the truth and now, the Vanderbilts’ chance for a new life has become a fight for survival.
Harley Wallen is definitely a name in indie cinema when it comes to versatility. From his action thrillers to even his holiday comedies, he knows the markets his films will attract and goes deep in, providing us with some great underrated films that just entertain its viewers. His latest is a horror film that is like Deliverance meets The Hills Have Eyes in a way, in which city folk take on a family of killers in the backwoods of small-town America.
While Jamie Bernadette’s Anna has top billing, she is a vital part of the story. However, if there is a real star of the film, it’s Angelina Danielle Cama as the rebellious Cassie. Usually when it comes to “final girls”, one would imagine an innocent wallflower whose instincts kick in at the most pivotal moment and becomes the aggressor in a fight for survival. However, Cassie is an against type character in which she is a rebellious goth teen who is unhappy about moving as we see her finding more comfort and support with her friend in the city rather than her new life. She soon becomes a catalyst to bring her family together when our killers show up to make our heroes’ lives a living Hell…literally.
Director Wallen is excellent in the role of Lucas with wife Kaiti playing his new wife Sarah. Lucas just wants to start a new life in a new home but between Cassie’s rebellious nature and trying to make sure Sarah is in a comfortable state, it does get hard for him. He even gets blasted by Sarah for buying a gun when she is against it. B-movie legend Mel Novak makes quite a memorable extended cameo as Louie, the owner and bartender of the local pub. While he is aware of the town’s secrets, he keeps to himself while enforcing the rules in his territory.
Jimmy Doom and Erika Hoveland are aces in their roles of the psychotic siblings Clete and May McKinley. These two are not only get their jollies kidnapping and torturing women and killing them along with anyone who get in their way, they even like to play off the typical sibling rivalry. There are some very disturbing moments including perhaps homage to Deliverance when Lucas is forced at gunpoint by May to do the deed with her in front of his wife. It’s very shocking but even more shocking is when Lucas at one point is tied up with an apple on his head for targeting practice. All of this eventually leads to a heck of a finale, and it is safe to say that Wallen and company definitely delivered a good one here.
Ash and Bone is definitely one of Harley Wallen’s top films to watch. Horror fans will enjoy it even with not much gore effects, but still impactful.
WFG RATING: B
Deskpop Entertainment presents a Painted Creek production in association with Cama Productions and Auburn Moon Productions. Director: Harley Wallen. Producer: Harley Wallen. Writer: Bret Miller. Cinematography: Alex Gasparetto. Editing: Alex Gasparetto.
Cast: Jamie Bernadette, Angelina Danielle Cama, Harley Wallen, Kaiti Wallen, Erika Hoveland, Jimmy Doom, Mason Heidger, Shane Hagedorn, Mel Novak.