Ash and Bone follows the story of the Vanderbilt family, who have come from the city to spend the summer in their family cabin.
Father, Lucas Vanderbilt, hopes that by spending time together in the remote cabin, his teen daughter Cassie will begin to bond with her new stepmother, Sarah, who, up to this point, she has treated only with disdain. He also hopes that, by removing Cassie from the city and all her negative peers, he will be able to reform his troubled daughter
True to her rebellious ways, it isn’t long until Cassie sneaks out and heads to a local bar to do some underage drinking and it’s here where she also meets Anna and Tucker.
The duo tell Cassie about a creepy house owned by the McKinley siblings, Clete and May, who resemble a knock-off version of the Sawyer family from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
Not able to pass up the opportunity to explore the McKinley residence, the trio decide to break into the home where they discover a dark secret in the basement – a secret that answers the question of what’s been happening to all the young girls who have been vanishing around town.
Ash and Bone feels like the writer decided to throw in every horror movie cliché ever recorded on film because, from this point on in the film, you can pretty much predict everything that’s going to happen.
For example, in the movie when the kids go into the McKinley house, you’ll probably find yourself saying, “I bet the McKinleys are going to come home while they’re inside the house.” You will be correct. It’s at that point that you start to get an idea of how predictable this movie is going to become.
The thing that you won’t be able to predict is just how tame a movie about a backwoods, murdering family can be. If this movie is trying to emulate The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, it forgot to include the massacre part.
At one point in the movie, two of the group members are kidnapped and it’s implied that the deranged siblings will inflict terrible atrocities upon these two, but if they do, the film never shows you anything.
All you get is a shot of the two bodies after the fact, with one of the victims sporting a couple of lacerations to the throat. The cuts are not even bloody. They look like somebody applied a couple of latex wounds one would pick up from their local Halloween costume shop.
The movie even has a cliché disposal method of feeding one of the unwanted bodies to pigs. But, again, the dismembering of the body all happens off-screen. All the audience is treated to is Clete swinging an axe into an offscreen body.
It’s in Ash and Bone’s third act where the film tries to turn up the controversial factor by having the McKinleys pay Cassie and her family a visit for her part in the break-in.
The film attempts to achieve this by having May McKinley force herself on Lucas, much to the dismay of her brother Clete, insinuating that the brother and sister duo have an incestuous relationship.
There’s a moment in this act where the bound Cassie is able to slip her ropes and call the local sheriff who, up to this point, has been doing a horrible job investigating the disappearances of all the local women and, now, the disappearance of Anna and Tucker.
When the sheriff does arrive, we are once again treated to the most predictable, overused horror cliché movie twist that the audience will see coming from a mile away, proving once again just how predictable this movie is.
Even when we get to the final showdown between Cassie and the McKinley siblings, the film shies away from bathing its audience in blood and gore.
Ash and Bone is a horror movie that forgot to add any horror elements. You would think that a movie about a family who kidnap, rape, torture, and kill women in their basement would be dripping with blood, but the film sheds very few drops.
The film tries to play up the fact that the McKinley clan enjoy eating long pig by having Clete dismember a body (again off-screen) and then proceed to throw pieces of the body into a fire, but Ash and Bone once again shy away from graphic violence by not even pretending to have the meat still resemble human form in any way. Instead, Clete is seen throwing chunks of meat that resemble back bacon more than anything else.
Another notable stand-out point is the fact that the film’s director, Harley Wallen, chose to cast himself in the role of Lucas Vanderbilt. This wouldn’t normally be an issue except for the fact that, during the film’s final act, the focus shifts from Cassie to Lucas. Lucas is the one who is dragged off and raped by May and who ultimately ends up taking the brunt of the sibling’s torture. This is clearly a director making the film all about himself. In the end, it’s Cassie who now has to come to rescue him.
It seems like Harley made this movie for himself and for nobody else because this movie is not suitable for anybody else. From its predictable storyline to its lack of suspense to its bloodless scenes, Ash and Bone is a film that is boring. The best part about the whole thing is when it’s finally over.
If you still decide you want to experience the film for yourself, Ash and Bone is currently available on Tubi.
I have come here to chew bubblegum and write horror, and I’m all out of bubblegum.
Senior Editor at Horror Facts