A Not So Pleasant Family Getaway

Bruce Von Stiers

Cassie Vanderbilt is an older teen who is rebellious and has been in a spot or two of trouble. Her dad, Lucas, takes her out of the city, to a secluded cabin outside a small Michigan town. With them is Sarah, who is the wife of Lucas and Cassie's stepmom. Apparently, Lucas had come here as a kid. The idea for this trip is to get Cassie more stable and for a bit of family unity.

That is the framework for a new thriller/horror film titled Ash and Bone. The film was directed by Harley Wallen, who also stars as Lucas. It was produced by Harley's production company, Painted Creek Productions, along with Auburn Moon Productions.

The film opens with a young woman running through the woods, trying to escape someone. She gets to the road, a car stops, but the results aren't good. So right away you know that there is something evil out there.

Upon getting to the cabin, Cassie ducks out and ends ups at a bar in town. She meets up with a young couple, Anna, and Tucker. Cassie, who is into spooky houses and creepy cemetery stuff, asks about things like that around there. Well, there is such a place, the McKinley house just outside of town. It's creepy and has one of those urban legends tied to it. Something to do with young women going missing. Of course, Cassie must see this place.

That's when everything starts to go wrong. And the film goes being about a rebel teen and family angst and moves into the thriller mode. A discovery in the house, of course the trio must break in, leads to some dangerous and deadly consequences.

Cassie is played by Angelina Danielle Cama. She has worked on several of Harley's films, including Betrayed, Enigma and A Bennett Song Holiday. The stepmom, Sarah, is played by Kaiti Wallen. The role is kind of fitting as in real life, Kait is Harley's wife. She has also been in several of films that Harley directed along with starring in the series Tale of Tails.

The young couple, Tucker and Anna, are played by Mason Heidger and Jamie Bernadette. Aside from being in a couple of Harley's films, Mason has shown up in an episode of Chicago P.D. and had supporting roles in several other films. Jamie starred in I Spit On Your Grave: Déjà vu. She also was one of the protagonists in a thriller film I reviewed some time back, Dead By Dawn.

The protaganists in this film are brother and sister Clete and May McKinley. Jimmy Doom, who has several film roles playing not so nice people, is Clete. May is played by Erika Hoveland. She co-starred in Harley's film Eternal Code and has been featured in a whole bunch of other films.

One character in the film that seems minor at first, but is pivotal at the end, is the town's sheriff. He is played by Shane Hagedorn, who has written directed and starred in several films. He also appeared in Eternal Code.

Another character in the film is Cassie's friend Tina. There are a couple of scenes with Tina and Cassie that prove to just be memories and not current events. Tina is played by Calhoun Koenig, who has appeared in a lot of films, including another horror film that Harley directed, Agramon's Gate. A side character in the film is a bartender at the bar where Cassie meets Tucker and Anna. The bartender was played by Mel Novak, an iconic actor with umpteen roles including a mob boss in a film I reviewed, An Hour to Kill.

Although there is a fair amount of profanity in the film, there isn't any nudity. There are a couple of places in the film that could have provided gratuitous nudity or graphic sex scenes, but they steered away from that. And even though at times it was intense, there was no graphic violence. Except for a few scenes, the violence was only implied, not shown in detail.

The producers associated with the film include a few members of the Cama family, along with Nancy Oeswein and Joseph Kelbie Williamson. The cinematographer was Alex Gasparetto, who previously worked with Harley on the show, Tale of Tails.

Ash and Bone is a pretty solid thriller /horror film. The acting was well done, not too overdramatic. The characters were realistic, not wooden. Especially the May and Clete characters. They were just plain hillbilly evil. There was a component in the story that was unseen but revealed near the end. I had pretty much figured that part early on. But I do read a lot of thriller books so certain plot devices and twists aren't necessarily too big a surprise to me.

I would recommend Ash and Bone if you like a good thriller/ horror film with no overly gross violence and gore and a decent storyline.

Ash and Bone will be having it's Los Angeles premiere on September 28, 2022. The film has already won several awards at film festivals it was submitted to.

You can pre-order Ash and Bone from Barnes and Noble. Its release is physical release date is set for October 4 th , with a VOD date of October 14 th .

There is a Facebook page dedicated to the film. You can find it at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100058326256836

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© 2022 Bruce E Von Stiers