Monster of the Week: Esikhulu (The Bone Snatcher) – 2003 | New 5th Edition Monster

“She takes what belongs to her, the animals, the people

and she drinks the life from their bones”

Despite being a straight to DVD release, Director John Wulfson’s debut and apparently only film, the 2003 horror flick The Bone Snatcher has an interesting premise and is surprisingly watchable. Acting, story, and character development aside, the film’s nontraditional location, a South African desert, is a nice change of scenery from the typical monster movie and the fact that the monster in question isn’t even a mummy makes it even all the more unique.

When employees of a South African mining company disappear a team is sent in to investigate what happened. Finding only the parched bones of their missing colleagues, the team is soon hunted by a mysterious creature that resembles at first a skeletal human-like creature but quickly reveals itself to be a swarm of some type of ravenous insect. Fraught with a decidedly cliched crew of desert misfits, and feeling like Tremors, Alien and a dozen other horror films, The Bone Snatcher still glosses over these other films with a neat, though sloppy and unfortunately poorly executed, veneer of questionably South African flavor (the film was made by Canadian’s). 

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The Bone Snatcher would have benefited from more elaborate monster lore – like this obviously thri-kreen totem.

While not a ‘good’ movie by far, The Bone Snatcher is the type of by-the-book horror film any fan of the genre can surely appreciate for its attempt at something different. The monster alone, a nice (excluding the swarms) blend of CGI and practical effects, makes it worth the watch although a bit more of a cultural frame of reference would have helped flesh out the creature even more and given it a more grounded backgstory. The esikhulu doesn’t seem based on any particular African myth, but making it match one would have been an awesome opportunity for a bit of world-building. While slow, the film draws you in with enough suspense to make you want to get the ultimate monster reveal at the end which to be honest, is a bit of a let down. However, with that being said, the films unique setting, monster and cast (like-able if largely forgettable) make it a cut above most ‘low-budget’ ($6 million) horror.

For the D&D table, the film’s esikhulu presents another unique monster that makes for an interesting baddie, especially suited for a Dark Sun campaign. And if you wanna check out the film itself you’re in luck – the entire ad-supported flick is on Youtube

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Like music? Me too – the desert feel of the movie, has some apocalyptic vibes to it, much like the Fallout 4 Soundtrack and Inon Zur’s Wandering

REVIEW – give some love to a smaller Tuber

 

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