So says writer/director of The Bone Garden, Mike Gutridge. And that’s an admirable goal as our genre’s rife with leering maintenance guys, bug-eyed garbage men and skulking homeless people.
The Baltimorean mostly delivers, in a suburban romp whose tone and setting conjures up John Waters’ Serial Mom (of interest: Waters’ assistant appears briefly in the film as the legendary cult director turned down an overture to appear).
At the fictional Carpenter University, Professor Norman Hardy has a way of getting his leg over undergrads. Wife Alice Hardy is on to him though, egged on by boozy divorcee Laurie (an excellent turn by Tammy Kaitz).
With nothing to occupy her time other than tend to a field of corn, walk the dog and eventually commit revenge adultery, Alice spies on her wandering hubby and involves herself in a local investigation involving the disappearance of a college coed.
Meanwhile, a killer is lurking about with a shovel and a couple of neighborhood newcomers are acting strangely.
Alice Hardy, gorehounds will note, is the name of the camp counselor from the original Friday, who gets it in the temple as the kettle boils in Friday the 13th Part II.
Here, Hardy is played by Tracie Savage who was Debbie in Friday the 13th Part III. Her brown lab is “Jason,” and investigating officer Detective Meeker is played by Friday the 13th’s Officer Dorf, Ron Millkie. The film is littered with Camp Crystal Lake references, but never enough to bog it down.
The Bone Garden showcases something that’s rare in horror: sure, there are a few hot college students (including a dance troupe from the university) but the film’s focal point is mostly middle-aged, married suburbanites. Demographics alone is enough to set this film apart and it’s about time focus shifted to the parents. After all, without them we wouldn’t have the next generation of bikini babes and slow-witted boyfriends with car trouble getting feasted on by masked maniacs.
Sharp-looking, despite being made on the cheap in under a month, The Bone Garden is made in the true spirit of indie film-making, a friend-and-family affair. (The director’s brother and son appear in bit parts, his friend’s band is the local bar house band in a watering hole owned by the director’s friend. The TV newscaster is another friend, an actual local TV news personality, etc.)
It’s a tastefully restrained whodunit with a mondo payoff and the denouement will be apparent to only the most keen-eyed observers.
*** (out of 5)