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The Bone Snstcher
cast: Scott Bairstow, Rachel Shelley, Warrick Grier, Patrick Shai, and Andre Weideman

director: Jason Wulfsohn

90 minutes (R) 2003
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
First Look DVD Region 1 NTSC retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Steve Andersen
From Overseas Entertainment, a relative unknown in the industry, comes a picture eerily reminiscent of 1950s' horror. Set in South Africa, filmed in South Africa, and subtitled only in Spanish for some reason (I admit I was half-expecting Afrikaans), this is a vaguely familiar story of geologists as superheroes. Boy, bet you never thought you'd hear that one, eh?
   We open on a nuclear reactor in crisis - a meltdown narrowly averted by the quick thinking of scientists. And the reward for their leader's quick thinking? A posting to scenic, far-off Africa! African desert, too - nothing around for miles and miles, or kilometres. The stark emptiness of the desert is truly striking in an era where just about every movie playing takes place somewhere picturesque. And of course the people are a pleasure to work with - within five minutes we're treated to an almost loving description of how human urine can be distilled into water so pure that it rivals Himalayan snowmelt. I found my own sentiments echoed from one of the crustier characters... you can leave me the snowmelt, thanks.
   And then we're treated to one of my least favourite film conventions, a dolly shot. That is, a camera moving forward rapidly with a filtered lens to make it seem as though something is moving forward in a hurry, and we're seeing through their eyes. I give it the generic name of 'he who walks behind the rows vision', after the Children Of The Corn series, the first place I encountered it. It is, needless to say, an old convention, and old conventions are tired conventions.
   Several minutes later, our party arrives at its destination, to search for water in the desert. Our party arrives to the sight of several flesh-stripped corpses, some of which have their heads detached. Of course, our party is understandably alarmed and begins trying to piece together what happened. People start disappearing. Strange things begin shambling through the desert. Mechanical failures plague the team, removing their one major advantage. Their truck breaks down in the middle of the desert, and their radio begins to fail. Now, with their supplies running low and their lifelines cut, the team must race against time to figure out what's going on in the African desert... and how they can survive it.
   And indeed, what do we find? It's a kind of ant that's responsible for the whole thing! Which leaves our scientist friends with one central purpose - eliminate the colony of giant ants who only appear to be harming scientists who get too close to their colony in the desert. Yeah, boy... that could be a real threat, couldn't it? But if they were to get out of the desert there could be some real problems. So, there needs to be some explosion that turns some giant ants into some giant ant bits.
   Now, let's digress for a moment here to talk about a movie called Them! - which is also about giant ants in the middle of a desert that terrorise human populations. Of course, here, the difference is the population is much smaller, especially in the beginning. We find that in The Bone Snatcher, things could be much worse for human populations if these ants get out of the desert in one piece, whereas in Them!, the harm is already about to come to pass. But the basic thematic elements are the same. Giant ants, risk to humans, scientists standing in the gap. It's interesting when you t hink about it.
   Why would South Africa decide to revive the giant ant movie? Did they think it would be best for them with their environment and resources available? Or did they just think it would be a quick way to cash in on America's insatiable desire for pure blood 'n' guts horror? Is this a statement on the world's environmental leanings - a cautionary tale in the making about chemicals and nuclear materials?
   The Bone Snatcher DVD comes with subtitles and a set of three trailers, including its own, and two others: Hollywood North and Between Strangers. Neither is even vaguely related to the movie, or to horror in general, or even horror's bastard son science fiction. It's really rather strange that they'd add these two trailers onto a movie about giant ants.

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