The Bone Snatcher (2003)

The creature seen through a rifle scope
What is this thing?!

A search team looking for missing geologists in an African desert encounter a swarm of black particles/creatures that eat the flesh off victims and then wrap around the bones to become ambulatory monsters.

Ignore this poster: the creature is not a swarm of ants
Ignore this poster: the creature is not a swarm of ants
The team discovers flesh-stripped corpses
The team discovers flesh-stripped corpses

The team starts getting picked off by these things and they eventually have a showdown in an abandoned mine, where it is discovered that the black swarm is controlled by a balloon-sized, egg/cocoon-like hive-mind kind of thing.

The black mass of 'particles'
The black mass of ‘particles’
Consumed by black stuff in his sleeping bag!
Consumed by black stuff in his sleeping bag!
A victim gets his arm eaten by the swarm

Director Jason Wulfsohn’s film isn’t perfect, with rather forced tension amongst the characters, resulting in an overabundance of bickering. However, there is stuff to like too. The cinematography, aided by the desert location, is decent and the acting’s okay, with Warrick Grier standing out for me as Karl: the gung ho, trigger-happy member of the team.

Warrick Grier plays Karl
Warrick Grier plays gun-toting Karl

The film remains watchable mainly because of the creatures, which look pretty good: a mix of flowing black particles and pieces of skeletons or body parts (such as a victim’s face, or a fleshless skull, etc). If a creature gets shot it simply reverts back to a mass of particles and seeps back into the desert, leaving the gnawed bones behind that it had been using as its own temporary skeleton. These creatures really should have had more screen time. Shame.

One of the creatures just before it is shot
One of the creatures just before it is shot

A memorable moment occurs when one of these bone snatcher creatures approaches the main characters in the night, wearing the face of one of their friends. It then proceeds to disgorge a squirming mass of black particles from the mouth of its flesh-mask!

It's wearing their team mate's face!
A bone snatcher critter wears their team mate’s face!
Barfing up some more black particles. Nice
A fleshless skeleton
A creature looms over Karl
Creature-vision POV
The lil’ blobby hive-mind

I feel the origin of these particle-things would have worked better if it had been some kind of African supernatural force, which was hinted at when the characters encounter a bunch of strange, bug-eyed totems in the desert. The final revelation that the black swarm is controlled by a small, orange blob-sack hive-mind (that can just be stabbed) comes across as rather underwhelming.

Mysterious carved totems in the desert
So this is the big, bad controller of the creatures?!

Still, the creatures are cool.

A creature approaches

2 thoughts on “The Bone Snatcher (2003)

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