A group of bored teens enter inside an abandoned factory in an attempt to cheer up their depressed friend, Neesa (Julin Jean – Cherry Bomb, 2009). Once inside, the group discover a box of mysterious items including a game of Knucklebones. Little do they know, however, that the game will summon an evil Nazi demon who will hunt them down one by one.

Opening to a red tinted flashback of a satanic ritual carried out by Nazis in an underground bunker, Knucklebones wastes no time in establishing its narrative. Having given us two flashbacks within a few short minutes, we are taken to modern day where we meet our protagonist, Neesa. Having been dumped callously by her boyfriend, Neesa is inconsolable and slits her wrists in the bathtub – leaving her dead for six minutes. Having experienced some dark, vivid dreams in the hospital, she returns home where her friends are keen to get her out of the house and decide the best thing for her is to venture to an abandoned warehouse believed to have been a clothing factory which supplied uniforms to troops during WWII. Obviously the best course of action. Of course, it’s not before long that the ‘teens’ hear some bumps in the night and decide to smash a hole in a hollow wall – uncovering a box of Nazi treasure and a game of knucklebones which summons an skull-faced, Nazi demon.

Created on a micro budget of just $500,000, it came as no suprise that Knucklebones lacked in quality but it is not necessarily an excuse for the lack of substance. Besides feeling very much like a student film starring a bunch of thirty-year olds unconvincingly playing high school graduates, there are a number of problems with the narrative. Firstly, Neesa’s suicide feels way too heavy for a horror of this stature. Whilst it is used as a plot point throughout the film, it is also removed when seen fit – meaning it neither adds nor removes anything at all. Furthermore, the acting is unbearable. Made up of a cast of B-Movie models and quite possibly adult actors, the poor acting in this makes the unoriginality and overall shoddiness of the film all the more ridiculous.

For fans of the video nasty, however, Knucklebones probably fits the bill quite nicely. With a great deal of the budget clearly spent on DIY horror effects, there is certainly a lot of full-on gore for those who like their scare a little more bloodied. This is let down however by it’s constant cutting away to avoid close ups which are likely to expose a small budget. Unlike many horror narratives where by the deaths of certain characters can be somewhat satisfying or thrilling, due to a lack of empathy or interest in our teens, as each one is devoured by Knucklebones (a fair too chatty and cheesy killer in a Halloween costume), it is rather difficult to care. Not to mention the fact that the Nazi premise was a complete waste and seemed entirely added in for the sake of making it all the more dark. Other pointless plot points include a sheriff who’s particularly bad at his job.

Plagued with every horror cliche going, it’s hard to understand whether this is on purpose or just whether it was intended to be. Whilst there are many attempts at adding depth and some might argue the narrative features a bit of a concluding twist, Knucklebones is easily one of the worst films previewed at FrightFest.


Horror Channel Frightfest review: Knucklebones
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Sophie is a film blogger from South London with a degree in Film Theory and Major Production. Sophie currently works in digital marketing but in her spare time you'll find her writing reviews or at the cinema. Sophie loves all things Star Wars and Hollywood but having specialized in the Horror genre, monsters are her first love. She'll watch absolutely anything given the chance - you can find her also on her blog, http://www.popcornandglitter.co.uk Twitter: https://twitter.com/sophieathawes