THE BONE BOX (2020)
Directed by Luke Genton
Written by Luke Genton
Starring Gareth Koorzen, Michelle Krusiec, Aaron Schwartz, Jamie Bernadette, David Chokachi, Maria Olsen, Art Roberts, Maximus Birchmore, Arielle Elonys, Katie Scardino, Hannah Bear, Pim de Boer
I’m always a fan of films set in cemeteries. CEMETERY MAN, Joe D’Amato’s BEYOND THE DARKNESS, Fulci’s Gates of Hell series, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD—if you do it right, you can really capture a moodiness that proves to be unsettling in the most primal of ways. I wish I could add the film THE BONE BOX to that short list of effective graveyard films, but while the film isn’t without merit, some factors really work against this one being worth seeking out.
Gareth Koorzen plays Tom, a widower who has fallen on tough times lately as he owes a substantial amount of money to a bookie and is living in a house beside a cemetery with his elderly Aunt Florence (STARRY EYE’s Maria Olsen). Tom has hatched a scheme with Elodie (THE INVITATION’s Michelle Krusiec) to rob some of the newly planted graves and sell the loot for quick cash. After doing the heist without Elodie, Tom brings the loot back to Aunt Florence’s house and is almost immediately tormented by the ghostly former owners of the trinkets he stole. With the bookie closing in and wanting his money or Tom’s head, Tom is wracked with guilt and remorse as he wonders how his life has spun this much out of control.
I think the main issue I had with THE BONE BOX was with the film’s star Gareth Koorzen. I’m sure he will one day be a decent actor, but that day is not here yet. Koorzen simply doesn’t have the tools to communicate the complex emotions necessary for this film. He has a monotone and mumbly delivery and a slight accent, so each line feels like a struggle to understand and empathize with. Koorzen runs his hands though his perfectly coiffed hair as a means to communicate frustration, but this seems to be the only method acting he uses. It was really hard to feel for Tom when he seems to have difficulty conveying much emotion at all.
Fortunately, Koorzen is surrounded by better actors. Michelle Krusiec delivers a natural and solid performance as Tom’s co-conspirator. She could have easy been played as a romantic interest for Tom, but there is a little more to her performance and I liked what she brought to the role. Maria Olsen is, as always, the best actor in the room and even more so here. Though she is playing a woman much older than she really is, Olsen makes up for the emotion and spirit that Koorzen lacks.
This is a very low fi film, but director Luke Genton manages to add some flair to what might be a bland experience with some extremely long takes following Tom on his heist, the getaway, and the escape to Aunt Florence’s house. The decision to use very little CG and go with ghosts that appear in the scene with Tom is another fun move as you see the actors moving around one another in an orchestrated way so as not to bump into one another. Genton also uses backgrounds really well to establish a dark mood and set up some eerie scares. I also was taken aback with a blatant scare swipe directly from the NIGHT GALLERY pilot, but I kind of liked the homage. Still, Koorzen makes everything feel low energy and low stakes, which undercuts the hard work the rest of the cast and filmmaker of THE BONE BOX is trying to do.