UK Release date – TBC 2017
Masked serial killer Edgar Friendly Jr. … AKA Bonejangles is on the loose in this juvenile horror comedy from Brett DeJager. Not content with creating an unstoppable supernatural killing machine who wears a skull mask, this is a mash up of all kinds of other ideas. They throw in zombie genre elements and a witch’s curse, as well as a whole lot of silly sex obsessed humour and splatter effects. If this sounds like a case of too many cooks or a story taking on far more than its share of ideas for such a brief running time, well you’d be correct. There’s a whole lot of material here to cover in less than 80 minutes, and it frequently struggles to focus on any of them in a satisfying way.
The story we get starts out with the tone of a parody, as a lone janitor is killed by the eponymous slasher moments after a radio news broadcast describes how he can’t be killed by conventional methods. Edgar Jr. was born with unnatural gifts thanks to voodoo power, and now lives only to kill the impure – a cause given to him by his murderous daddy Edgar Sr. (Reggie Bannister). This is the strongest part of the film, where the bloody violence and dark lighting effects are used well. Its influences are worn clearly but a good pastiche is often entertaining. The problem is that this often comes across as more than one story being loosely tied together.
It frequently jumps from one style of sequence to another, throwing in as many staples as possible. Some of the time it just seems to be a check list of ideas being covered. Incompetent buddy cops argue about who has worst love life, teens camping in the woods are slaughtered, and weird old people give out rambling exposition that goes on for far too long. Characters return to their home towns after long absences to try and win back old flames and people hide together in school halls to avoid evil goings on that occur on the same night every year. It’s an uneven blend to say the least, one that is short but still manages to be baggy and meandering. The exposition in particular goes on for far too long, beyond the point of being funny.
This is another major issue, that the comedy elements are all pretty flat or worse just plain awkward and childish. Their idea of humour is eye rolling at times, with things like erection jokes and lines about bodily fluids often being thrown around. Early on they decide that having a gay police officer wearing huge hoop earrings and screeching a lot was good idea. As a whole none of this really works. Besides the older cast members most of the actors are just playing it for laughs, so of course none of it is amusing.
The plot itself centres around Doug (Kelly Misek Jr.) a cop who ends up having to transport Bonejangles to an asylum after his team are cut down in a capture attempt gone awry. With the remaining officers they must travel to his old home Argento City (really) where they soon run into engine trouble and he remembers that the place is cursed with undead visitors once a year. No prizes for guessing what night just happens to be. It’s here that the different story elements start to split up the narrative, as the locals hide from zombies and the curse of Rowena the witch (Elissa Dowling) is explained. Doug must try and win back his one time girlfriend, save his partner (Jamie Scott Gordon) from becoming Rowena’s slave and do something about all this supernatural nonsense.
By itself this synopsis is fairly standard, but the awkward comedy attempts and the performances make it consistently unfunny. There are also some really distracting electronic tunes included during the slasher scenes for some reason. The tone deaf nature of things extends to flashbacks which show both the school days of Doug and the night Rowena cursed the town. As a witch and a prostitute she gets her power from the essence of her victims – and since Edgar Jr. is a killer fuelled by his own purity and his need to slay those who sin, you can see where this is all going. I have a lot of time for stupid violence and stupid comedy, but this lacks the heart and charm of the best genre mashups out there. It just becomes a slog very quickly. With more of a focus on a single idea and sticking to what works it would be far more effective, but a lot of this needs trimming town to the point where an entirely new script would be called for.