• Bone Garden, The



    Released by: Camp Motion Pictures
    Released on: February 2, 2016
    Director: Mike Gutridge
    Cast: Tracie Savage, Paul Kratka, Tammy Kaitz, Ron Millkie
    Year: 2014
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Alice Hardy’s (Tracie Savage) life not going as she planned. Her marriage to Norman (Paul Kratka), a university professor, is rocky at best and her neighbor, Samuel Myers (Steve Bauer) gives her the creeps. The only thing that is keeping Alice sane is her cornfield. All dreams of normalcy evaporate when Samuel’s wife goes missing and co-eds from the local university are found dead. Alice fears the murderer is close-by, but how close is he?

    Writer-director Mike Gutridge’s The Bone Garden is a rather quaint, harmless horror film that is bigger on mystery than it is on gore. Throughout the film, the viewer tags along with Alice as she works to uncover the murderer, as well as find the strength to leave her philandering husband. Mysteries work best when it keeps the audience guessing. The Bone Garden is not able to do this, the killer is pretty obvious, however to his credit, Gutridge is able to create a few surprises, although all shock are due to out-of-left field revelations. The most bizarre of which is the presence of a second serial killer whom has been knocking off male students. This reveal is a total cheat, there was absolutely no mention of the killings of male students prior to the second killer appearing. I suppose it is possible this was a commentary by Gutridge on the lack of attention given to male victims of violent crimes, although I doubt it. Gutridge’s film does not seem like it has much on the mind other than having a good time. In this regard, The Bone Garden is sort of successful, the film has a goofy, dumb charm to it. Certain things that would normally be aggravating, like why Detective Meeker (Ron Millkie) seems to suspect Alice of the crimes, are not bothersome, rather they just seem silly.

    The primary concern for the film seems to revolve around jokey, referential names. The college Norman works for, Carpenter College. Alice’s best friend, Laurie Curtis (Tammy Kaitz). Norman’s annoying co-worker, Ben Tramer (Terry McConnaughey). In addition to aforementioned allusions to Halloween we also have a dog named Jason, you know, to go along with a protagonist named Alice Hardy. You would think since Tracie Savage is the film’s star, Gutridge would have name his heroine Debbie. Truly a missed opportunity. Ultimately I find this sort homage strange. For all the references to films like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Psycho, among others, you would have assumed that Gutridge’s style would have been influenced by those films and their filmmakers as well. This is not the case, Gutridge’s film displays zero style. The Bone Garden does not feature genius use of widescreen cinematography employing every bit of the frame, nor does the editing capture a frenetic symbiotic relationship with the score. Instead, it seems the only thing Gutridge learned from the classics was characters typically have names and those names can be reused. I understand it is hard to replicate great filmmaking, but trying and failing is still a noble endeavor.

    I am not sure why I did not hate The Bone Garden. There are some nice performances from Savage, Kaitz, and Kratka but nothing else really stood out. The plot was weak and the ending made absolutely no sense. However, I found the film rather entertaining. I could not help myself, I was drawn to the film’s strange, off-kilter internal geography. Alice and Norman seem to live in the country, however it only takes her minutes to walk home from the college bar in town. Alice’s house is surrounded by cornfields, in what seems like a farming community, and yet she has a neighbor so close she can see into their house. Another aspect of The Bone Garden that intrigued me was why so many of the young male students at Carpenter College were infatuated with Laurie, a woman at least 20 years their senior. I also kept wondering why Ben Tramer was constantly roaming around the halls of Carpenter College with the intent to bother Norman. No matter what Norman was doing on campus, grading paper or sneaking a peek in the girls’ locker room, Ben was there to ask Norman what he was doing. All of these things, which normally would have been problems, kept a smile on my face. The whole thing was just too silly to hate.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    Camp Motion Pictures has released The Bone Garden on an unsuspecting public featuring a 16X9 enhanced 1.66:1 image. The picture quality is strong for a film of its budget. The image is artifact free and clean. The audio is 2.0 stereo is pretty good. The dialogue and sound effects are mixed well and everything is audible. The disc lacks subtitles which is not a problem.

    Camp Motion Pictures has given The Bone Garden a couple of special features. The primary extra on the disc is an audio commentary with Gutridge, who seems like a likable guy. The filmmaker really gets across the difficulty of making a film but still has very encouraging words for would be filmmakers. Also featured is Premiere Behind the Scenes, a 10-minute short with the various cast and crew of the film reminiscing about their time on-set. The feature’s odd name seems to be a reference to the interviews being conducted before a showing of the film. It was a fun, innocuous featurette where everyone talked about how much fun they had making the film. A 2-minute trailer is also included along with a trailer vault showcasing additional Camp Motion Pictures releases.

    The Final World:

    What can I say, The Bone Garden is a somewhat enjoyable micro-budget horror flick. The film is super silly and not at all scary but is so harmless and naïve you want it to succeed. I suppose the best way to view the film is as background noise as you check social media or make dinner. I understand this is not the highest praise a film can receive, but it is better than a lot of the similar contemporary films I have seen.