One part thriller and two-thirds a military-style action, Billy Hanson‘s debut creature feature film, Bone Cold, is a deep look at what PTSD is like from the perspective of those serving in special ops. Usually these type of folks are conditioned to weather a lot of extremes, but for Jon Bryant (Jonathan Stoddard) and Marco Miller (Matt Munroe), just how they are feeling after returning home from Afghanistan is very different.
Before they can resume their normal lives, these two officers are called back to service. In this new mission, who they take out goes awry. Pretty soon, the mystery of what haunts them becomes very real. If that isn’t enough, there’s another assassin sent out to deal with not only this duo but also perhaps the supernatural threat too!
This director’s transition from shorts to television to film isn’t overnight. This tale must have taken years to get right. His output has been minimal in the past ten years since starting to make films, and not all of this information is revealed in a rare home video release which includes a gag reel and making of. One of his early efforts comprises an adaptation of Stephen King’s short story, Survivor Type. His interest in this subgenre of survival horror is no doubt an influence.
While the stories are different, to understand what people must feel when tasked with an impossible mission requires getting into their mindset. But for Jon who pulled the trigger, whatever training he’s received in the past have been wiped. I wouldn’t say he’s been brainwashed since, but it’s highly possible that after that last job, the debrief wasn’t enough for him to detach his emotions.
Bryant is married. The feelings he has for Mel (Jennifer Khoe; Superman & Lois) and Wendy (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss; Avatar: Way of Water) shows he is capable of love. But to hide the fact he’s a killer from them must be tough. Eventually, something within his psyche will either snap or manifest. That’s the best part; It left me wondering whether he has any humanity left.
What Hanson successfully builds upon concerns the sanity of these individuals. Since the two share the same hallucination, the craziness has a Lovecratian fiction vibe. Instead of dealing with cosmic horror, these characters are fearing what they’ve become, and dread being eventual targets too! Just what happens next is rather intense and nicely switches back and forth between banter and bullets. The sound mix is great! On a DTS audio system, it puts viewers right into the action.
For enthusiasts of the monster genre expecting one type of story, what they get from this indie director is the right kind of misdirection to make me think. If that creature was actually a Wendigo who represents suppressed emotions too, then I’m not embarking on any dangerous missions anytime soon either!
3½ Stars out of 5