The Bone Eater (2007)
"There will be no leftovers"
Developers building on an ancient Native American burial site uncover a series of artefacts and bones which they decide to get rid of before the local Native population, already unhappy at construction work on sacred ground, find out. However, one of the skeletons they stumble upon belongs to ancient spirit known as the Bone Eater which returns to life and kills them. Blaming the deaths upon the local Native American protesters, the local sheriff is called in by the developers to investigate but no one is aware of the true danger they face it’s too late.
Oh boy, The Bone Eater was a big stretch even for me. By Sy Fy standards, which are admittedly low, this one was dead-on-arrival. Straight out of the book of monster movie making 101, Sy Fy turned to page five, choose the first thing they saw and gave it a Native American origin story, rather than it escaping from a lab or being a toxic waste-inspired mutation. Everything else is the same copy and paste routine you’ve seen dozens of times before. The only difference is just how much energy and vigour the cast and crew put into their production to bring it to life. The answer here is very little, if anything.
The Bone Eater’s weak story seems to have been plotted out on a post-it note – there’s simply the monster being resurrected and then loads of random people, most who have had nothing to do with the development and disturbing the burial ground, being introduced and killed off within the same scene. The monster shows up every five to ten minutes, kills off some more random non-characters to portray it as a threat and then it’s back to the main characters for more plodding human drama. But even this is poorly sketched, with the sheriff and his daughter who has been away from home for a while sharing very little screen time and the Native American hottie who has fancies the sheriff gets no opportunities to develop any sort of romance (probably for the best given that the age gap between their characters is clearly a bit creepy). Note to the script writers: if you’re going to pad out your film with characters, at least give them something to do whilst they’re padding out.
‘Starring’ the likes of Babylon Five’s Bruce Boxleitner, Star Trek’s Walter Koenig, House’s William Katt and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century’s Gil Gerrard, I’ll give you a guess as how big most of their roles are. Boxleitner aside (given that he’s the lead), they’ve got glorified cameos - Koenig receives the easiest pay day he’s ever had, literally phoning in his performance during one brief scene where he receives a phone call from Boxleitner’s character. He probably worked for an hour! Great work if you can get it. I’m sure that $700,000 budget could have been better spent on other areas of the film rather than paying this lot for a minute of screen time each.
The CGI Bone Eater at least looks and acts differently than the usual Sy Fy monsters but seems to only have had a handful of frames rendered on the computer because it moves the same way all of the time. It’s basically just a CGI skeleton with a few gimmicks like being able to spew some green mist at its victims which just makes them dissolve into thin air. The film does the monster no favours by having it accompanied by some cheesy cowboy music whenever it rides its phantom horse, as if it’s just ridden out of some 80s action cartoon. Foolishly, the film decides to show the entire monster from the moment it comes to life, giving the audience no mysterious slow reveal as to what is killing off the cast – it’s there in all of it’s cheesy CGI glory from the opening scenes. The ridiculous finale in which this ghost rider squares off against Boxleitner’s poor Village People impersonator doesn’t even promise to be good and it’s over before it begins. I’d say it was a let down but let’s face it, the build-up before it didn’t even suggest it would be anything but a total dud.
Things like what I’m about to talk about don’t usually bother me and I’m one of the first to protest when I hear people getting on their moral high horses about cultural appropriation but I’ll make an exception in The Bone Eater’s case – the film’s presentation of Native Americans is laughably offensive, from the standard issue white-tinged depictions of wise old chiefs sitting around campfires talking mystical mumbo jumbo to the fact that they have Greek-American actor Adoni Maropis as his son (Maropis has played a range of generic non-white roles such as Islamic terrorists in TV series 24 to Egyptian generals in The Scorpion King). But hey, he’s not white so he must look ‘foreign’ enough to double up as a Native American too. With no shame in the world either, lead actor Bruce Boxleitner looks ridiculous in his Native American get-up during the finale, almost as if he wondered on drunk from a fancy-dress party.
Tediously dull, lacking any excitement or stimulation to engage the audience and featuring some horrible special effects and set pieces, The Bone Eater might just be Sy Fy’s worst film yet. There’s some stiff competition but for all round poor quality, this one is definitely up there with the dregs.
The Bone Eater
Director(s): Jim Wynorski
Writer(s): Jim Wynorski (screenplay), William Langlois (screenplay)
Actor(s): Bruce Boxleitner, Michael Horse, Adoni Maropis, Clara Bryant, Jesse Janzen, William Katt, Walter Koenig, Gil Gerrard
Duration: 90 mins