Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Skinwalker Review: A Decently Gruesome Wild West Horror Story

Eva Hamilton	...	Maisie Cameron Kotecki	Cameron Kotecki	...	Riggs Amelia Haberman	Amelia Haberman	...	Nellie Dan Higgins	Dan Higgins	...	Bascom Daniel Link	Daniel Link	...	Willard Charlie E Motley	Charlie E Motley	...	Vern Nathaniel Burns	Nathaniel Burns	...	Benny Liz Manning	Liz Manning	...	Judith Victorio Pope	Victorio Pope	...	Storm Talker Jeff Yazzie	Jeff Yazzie	...	Proud Fist Becky Jo Harris	Becky Jo Harris	...	Clara Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Niko El Santo Zavero	Niko El Santo Zavero	...	Cowboy Robert Conway	Robert Conway	...	Hugo Larry Judkins	Larry Judkins	...	Collins / Trooper Scout / Cowboy in train station William Carr	William Carr	...	Sergeant Jacobs Dan Weisgerber	Dan Weisgerber	...	Colonel Lewis Chandler Mantione	Chandler Mantione	...	Paperboy

Release date: July 13, 2021
Running time: 92 minutes
Written and Directed By: Robert Conway
Cast: Eva Hamilton, Cameron Kotecki, Amelia Haberman, Dan Higgins, Daniel Link, Charlie E Motley, Edward Rodriguez, Nathaniel Burns, Liz Manning, Victorio Pope, Jeff Yazzie, and Becky Jo Harris

After looting a Native American burial site, a hunter unleashes the legendary Skinwalker, a shape shifting demon, onto an unsuspecting world. Once thought to be only a legend, this ancient evil returns from the grave to wreak a terrible vengeance on all who are unfortunate enough to cross its path.

Christopher Beeman	Christopher Beeman	...	Elmer (as Chris Beeman) Mike Doherty	Mike Doherty	...	Ambrose Kelli Jo Richardson	Kelli Jo Richardson	...	The Skinwalker Mark Henning	Mark Henning	...	Cavalry Soldier Dale Robert Koehler	Dale Robert Koehler	...	Thompson Mikey Reed	Mikey Reed	...	James Jeff Gravely	Jeff Gravely	...	Cowboy in train station / Cowboy on train Steve Kuehnel	Steve Kuehnel	...	Sherman David Staley	David Staley	...	Amos Bill Scott	Bill Scott	...	Hitch Produced by  Robert Conway	...	producer Kelley Daniel	...	associate producer Norman S Davis	...	producer Lisa Hinds	...	associate producer David J. Hohl	...	associate producer Daniel C. Jacobson	...	executive producer (as Danny Jacobson) Steve Knotts	...	executive producer Jo Ann Long	...	executive producer Jay Martin	...	associate producer Tim Sauer	...	co-producer Phil Staley	...	producer Tommye Staley	...	producer
Skinwalker's main draw is the wild west setting and the cinematography.  The film has a nice western themed village and costumes to transport you back to an older time.  And the movie also has some really good cinematography to help with this.  Skinwalkers has an overexposed style that harkens back to old time westerns, and really gives it a sense of authenticity especially early on.  And the movie also has some really good night cinematography that make for some clear and exciting night encounters.  There is a varied cast of characters that we meet in this film and they range from outlaws, to law men, to native Americans, and normal citizens.  And this variety does ensure that you don't get bored and keeps the story moving.  And although the effects are hit or miss, when they work they are fun to see.  There are some good wounds and practical blood effects for the people possessed by the Skinwalker that are a nice touch to up the dread.

However, although the dialogue is fine for the most part, it is hit or miss at times.  There are some good lines and characters but there are also some lines that just fall flat.  And the film has some decent effects overall, but there are some very clearly CG effects for the gunfire and blood that just look off.  It is sad because the film relies on a lot of good practical effects, making the clearly CG instances stand out even more.  But the Achilles heel of this film is that it is a) not scary and b) the Skinwalker does not distinguish itself.  First, the film is just not scary.  Any transformations telegraph themselves early on and the film doesn't utilize very good jump scares or other environmental factors to make you hold your breath.  Most of the encounters occur during the day; I think this film could have benefited from more night encounters considering that the night filming was so good.  But most importantly, the Skinwalker itself doesn't distinguish itself as a unique monster.  Maybe it is based on Native American legends, but of the most part it seems like a zombie that passes itself from one person to the next.  You always know who the next person will be because they were the ones that were bitten or scratched by the current Skinwalker host.  And it doesn't exhibit any special powers until the very end of the film.  And this climactic encounter is just not that interesting either, as the film goes for a slow motion style that blunts any sort of dramatic impact from this showdown.

Skinwalker has a lot going for it, including an interesting cast, good cinematography and practical effects, but the film is just not scary enough and the Skinwalker is not distinguishable from other horror monster.

Pass on it.

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Skinwalkeris available digitally and on demand on July 6, 2021.  

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