T.S. Slaughter’s debut feature film sees gay couple Nathan and Justin tire of their daily lives and when even sex becomes boring for them, they decide to take their anger at life out on an obnoxious fellow student. The plan (inspired by a news story Nathan heard) is simple, drug the guy and rape him for kicks, but when he accidentally dies, the guys take a liking to the idea of killing and set out to continue their plan on a bunch of Ivy League jocks who have previously wronged them.
Skull & Bones is well made there is no denying that. So I was particularly surprised to learn that this was Producer/Director of Photography Paul Serrano’s first time working with DV. The film also features some decent acting and some dreadful acting. The biggest flaw in my humble opinion is that tonally, the film is all over the place. Starting out quite eerily, S&B descends into camp at every available opportunity and whilst this works and is indeed entertaining, it essentially destroys what could have been a quite creepy vibe. It also leaves the viewer confused and slightly disturbed, as we are essentially being asked to laugh at rape, torture and murder. As if that isn’t bad enough it also delves way too deeply into (one can only assume) Writer/Director T.S. Slaughter’s personal social and political views. I couldn’t help but think that he has a huge chip on his shoulder as his characters really went to town on the fact that they are viewed differently and shunned by other more prominent social/political groups. This in my opinion will really alienate straight audiences who perhaps may not be able to relate.
Skull & Bones eeks a lot out of its meager budget and comes up trumps in the looks department. It is also carried well by the two leads with Derrick Wolf in particular doing a very convincing job. It’s light and bright and moves quickly.
In the end, this is a well shot and thought out feature that does have more going for it than just surface value. Unfortunately, it is too damn smart for it’s own good and the casual horror fan will perhaps find it too heavy.