Eddie (Luke Goss), a businessman, is on his way home when an unseen assailant snatches him off a roadside in the harsh Texas desert. His tormentor is Jimmy (Lance Henriksen), an armed man who is brutally dangerous, fiendishly clever and has a single purpose - to stalk, challenge, and torture Eddie every step of the way towards an uncertain destiny. Beaten and bled dry, Eddie struggles to outwit his nemesis until finally, hunter and hunted face off in a gruelling showdown.
Bone Dry’s advertising copy name-checks Saw and Steven Spielberg’s Duel (1971), but its plot derives equally from the likes of The Hitcher (1987) and even Phone Booth (2002). Essentially, a slice of schadenfreude with a Rod Serling-style twist, the film offers audiences the spectacle of one man suffering for past sins. Those unable to forgive Eighties pop poseur Luke Goss for “When Will I Be Famous”, may derive some gratification from seeing him shot, stabbed, pissed upon, buried up to his neck in sand, strapped to the roof of a moving car, and bound naked to a thorny cactus. Brings tears to your eyes. What begins as a promising battle of wits, descends into tedious torture porn - a vacuous genre with little reward.
“Payback’s a bitch”, snarls gravel voiced, granite faced Lance Henriksen; a line that delivers the only theme Bone Dry has to offer. For what it is, the movie is well put together. Hazy, orange visuals bleach the arid desert, while director Brett A. Hart’s inventive camerawork builds a fine sense of unease. Henriksen is excellent as usual. He keeps Jimmy a shadowy, unfathomable menace but hints at revelations to come. By contrast, Luke Goss wavers all over the place, much like his accent - sometimes British, sometimes American. He is at his best during Eddie’s initial scenes, soft-spoken and building sympathy. Yet Eddie seems curiously unfazed by all the torture he endures. He displays believable anguish as he pulls cactus needles off his naked body, but the next minute he wisecracks, fights like a demon and babbles way too much. As Jimmy devises ever more fiendish predicaments for him to endure, viewers may well echo Eddie’s sentiments: “Aren’t you getting sick and tired of this bullshit?”
Hart and co-writer Jeff O’Brien throw some plot curveballs involving a helpful hippie, and a couple of violent, drug smugglers that speed by too quickly to pack any punch. Tragically, the climactic twist isn’t bad at all and switches our allegiances in a way that doesn’t leave you feeling cheated. Yet the journey there is boring and shot-through with pretension, including an opening quote from Richard III and a closing credit that deems this a “Brett A. Hart vision.”