If there’s one thing that drives me crazy, it’s when people get down on independent, shot on video movies for not looking enough like Titanic, or not having as good of acting as Twilight, or not being written as well as Battlefield Earth (ask me on a different day, you’re liable to get a whole list of other answers as to what the “one thing” is that drives me crazy). It’s especially unnerving when those statements are coming from horror fans. I feel like the genre of horror is the closest thing that movies have to a DIY punk ethic, where kids can go to the store and buy ingredients to make fake blood and guts, then come home and make their own ridiculous movie with a few friends. We do this because it’s fun, and because we love it. Most of us in the world of horror movies aren’t going to become rich off it, but we keep trying because we enjoy what we are a part of. It is with this mentality that I want you to enter the world of Knochenwald (which, by the way, translates to English as “Bone Forest,” in case you were curious).
Back in the year 2000, Utz Marius Thomsen decided to make a horror movie. I assume the actors in this movie are Utz’s friends, and I assume they had fun by the (accidental) smiles on their faces during their death scenes. He found a way to fake severed limbs and disembowelments, and he put together a sure fire recipe for (obviously) fake blood. He got a video camera, and it was on. Seven years later, Thomsen went back and re-edited this film, but by that time, we already had a part 2, and a part 3 was at least in the early writing stages. This is Knochenwald, a short, low budget, shot on video horror movie, and you will love it.
The story is very simple: a guy in the forest, Mike Mansfield (Henrik Wierick) kills everyone around him with any weapon possible. When he approaches his first victim, he is wearing a mask similar to that of Hannibal Lecter, but quickly trades that in for a gas mask he finds inside a cabin. He chops that guy’s hand off with an axe, then slits his throat, causing lots of exaggerated sound effects and lots of blood to splash anywhere and everywhere possible.
This isn’t really the type of movie that has too many spoilers as there are no crazy twists or reveals; a guy kills people, the end. He comes upon a guy peeing on a tree, he slams his head against a sharp stick, then chops him up. He comes across some dudes out camping, he takes them down, one by one, by any means necessary. There is an obvious Andreas Schnaas/Violent Sh*t influence here, and it is says as much in the closing credits. Basically, you’ve got a bunch of silly, somewhat inventive kills, and that’s it. Twenty-three minutes of blood, death, and fun. Not even enough time to get bored of the story.
Hands are staked to the ground, an arm I severed and thrown into a tree, heads are cut in half, skulls are splattered with sledge hammers. As I said before, Knochenwald is nothing but fun. But I tell you what, for being such an obviously low budget, this movie was handled pretty well.
The editing isn’t horrible by any means, and there’s little enough dialogue that we can’t complain about poorly written characters when we can clearly see that they’re just there to be eviscerated (actually, there’s no subtitles anyway, so if you don’t speak German, sorry). Sure, the gore is cheap, but it’s enjoyable nonetheless. This is the type of movie that makes you smile, to see people enjoying their time on camera, not taking themselves too seriously, and having a blast as their spaghetti-looking, runny guts are pulled out of a barely covered baggie just under their t-shirts. Want to relive the fun that horror movies brought you when you first snuck a peak at one when your parents were away? Knochenwald is the answer. I’ll be honest, I’m going to go try and find the two sequels now, I enjoyed the first one that much.