June 11, 2023

BONE COLD Needs to Pick a Lane

BONE COLD (Blu-ray)
2023 / 109 min
Review by Josey, the Sudden Cat🙀

The biggest issue with Bone Cold is that writer-director Billy Hanson can’t seem to pick a lane and settle on the type of horror movie he wants it to be.

Things begin great, with military snipers Jon (Jonathan Stoddard) and Marco (Matt Monroe) taking-out their latest target then heading home. For reasons not made quite clear, Jon appears haunted by this particular mission, but chooses not to open up to his family. The next day, the two buddies are ordered to drop inside the Russian border for their next target, but bad intel results in Jon shooting an innocent civilian. Still, the higher-ups won’t extract them until they kill the original target.

It’s around this point that a dark, monstrous figure begins stalking them through the woods. At first, only Jon sees it, suggesting it’s all in his head, perhaps manifesting from the guilt he feels killing an innocent man. So far, it’s a solid foundation on which to build an effective little psychological horror film. Then for reasons totally unexplained, Marco suddenly sees the creature, too, as does the woman hunting them down in retaliation for killing his friend. 

All grown up, Ralphie now shoots others' eyes out.
So now it's a supernatural variation of Predator. Okay, we can play along, since this is easily the most exciting part of the movie. Considering the limited budget, the creature is kind of cool and Hansen maintains a hallucinatory aspect to its appearance that’s fairly effective. There are also some great kills, including a really nasty disemboweling scene. Then with a jarring lack of transition, Jon is suddenly heading home, the narrative suggesting he’s either possessed by the creature or suffering severe PTSD. Either way, he's a danger to his wife and kid. 

Unfortunately, Bone Cold descends from intriguingly ambiguous to viscerally exciting to simply frustrating. The middle act is such good gory fun that the last half-hour ends up being a perplexing, anticlimactic downer. For his debut feature, Hansen displays a lot of technical skill and pulls good performances from the cast, but is ultimately undone by his own schizophrenic story.





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