There are few sins of horror movies making worse than lack of originality. Every year theaters and streaming services are flooded with tepid horror movies churned out for hungry fans, sometimes with disgustingly large budgets. I always walk out of such films with a poor taste in my mouth, imagining how those funds could have been distributed to creators really endeavoring to bring us something new. Indie horror is often a pleasant deviation, where well-trodden tropes and seemingly fully explored genres can find new life in the hands of skilled horror creators who display innovation and creativity in the face of limited finances. Writer and director Scott Eggleston is one such person, and Bad Bones shows that a good horror film relies on talent and ingenuity.

When young married couple Jen and Rus move into a new home, Jen is under the impression that Rus’ motivations in buying this particular place are so that she has a peaceful respite while battling a terminal illness. However, Rus has ulterior motives. As a famous writer known for capturing the paranormal, Rus was drawn to this home because the previous owners disappeared under mysterious circumstances. As Rus discovers the source of the mystery and starts experimenting, he begins to test the boundaries of what he would do to keep the person he loves.

Rus and Jen from Bad Bones in a fight

It’s immediately apparent that Bad Bones is a film made with a micro-budget. Striped down to its bare elements, the film has very few characters and is contained to a house and a little bit of the street, and what effects there are—although incredibly disturbing—are clearly the work of ingenuity over a high-budget. However, instead of a lazy cheese-fest with stilted dialogue delivery and buckets of orangey blood, we are given a thoughtful labor of love that really pans out into a worthwhile watch. Bad Bones brings to mind other recent pioneering indie horror such as We Are All Going to the World’s Fair (2021) and Landlocked (2021), and belongs in the category of “please give this director more money”. 

With limited resources, Bad Bones does an incredible job of building tension and then building it more. There are moments of comedy, but they are seamlessly woven into the story and tone of the film, never sacrificing the aforementioned tension. Most of the action takes place during the day as well, likely a cost-saving measure to prevent the need for expensive lights, however, this is one of those golden films that doesn’t need a nighttime setting to creep us out. In fact, Eggleston brilliantly utilizes commonplace imagery, such as suburbia or even common fruit, to drive his horror. At the center of this domestic-gone-horribly-wrong story is Rus and Jen’s relationship, relatable but fraught with supernaturally-fueled pressure. Actors Maddison Bullock (Jen) and Chris Levine (Rus) are not household names, but it’s clear they are genuine actors (instead of friends or family of the director), and they give their performances their all. Bullock in particular gives a heart-wrenching performance that is hard to forget.

Rus from Bad Bones in the basement

The effects in the film are sparse but absolutely brilliant and more than a little unsettling. It was so incredibly refreshing to be so… disturbed by such basic practical effects! Let me tell you, apples haven’t been as appealing to me these days (and I will leave it at that). The camera work is beautiful, the kind that perfectly captures a scene or action, but is so flawless in its execution that the viewer is not drawn to the artifice; we are just aware of how good the shot looks. Music is also used in a similar manner, seemingly chosen to highlight a scene and draw out emotions or heighten tension, but never overtaking the movie itself. All the pieces work together harmoniously in a stunning display of filmmaking that creates a whole that is hard to forget.

Originality is something to treasure these days, and since Bad Bones is free to watch on YouTube–yes, FREE– (link below) there’s really no excuse to not give it a try. Indie horror fans and those seeking something different alike will find something to love. Give Bad Bones a try today, and please for the love of all that is unholy… someone gives Scott Eggelston more money!



More Film Reviews