Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Skinwalkers (2006)

My, What Bad Scripting You Have!

Editor's Note: This review was originally published in 2007. Just sayin'.

Even as a child, I was never a huge fan of werewolf movies. The idea of a hairy monster lumbering around in torn clothes never really appealed to me. If I wanted to see that, I could’ve easily just followed my dad around the house. But classic lycanthropy-related films like American Werewolf in London, The Howling, Gingersnaps, and especially Dog Soldiers hold a sacred place in my heart. They proved to me that you can take a werewolf and do something great with it. After hearing about Skinwalkers, I was hoping to have another to add to that list. Unfortunately, this movie is all bark and no bite.

Skinwalkers pretty much follows the typical werewolf story. Its only twist is that there are two factions of the lycanthropes. The first are the good guys, who are determined to end their horrible curse as soon as possible, and then there are the bad guys, who have grown to enjoy their bloodlust so much that they will do anything to keep their heritage alive. Then there is Timothy, a boy who is nearing his thirteenth birthday. Unbeknownst to Timothy and his mother, he is a half breed who has been protected by the good wolves all along. (How his mom didn’t know she was fucking a wolfman, I’ll never know). When the moon turns blood red, both sects realize that a prophecy is at hand. On the third night of the red moon, when Timothy reaches thirteen, he will have the power to determine the fate of the warring clans and end their reign of terror once and for all. (And I thought my voice cracking was the worst part of turning thirteen).

Skinwalkers could have been so much more, but it chose to follow in the vein of films like Underworld and every other one that involves a "half breed" or a "warring clan of monsters". The script is written without any real character development and Timothy and his mother seems to take their situation way too well when it’s first told to them. The plot and scripting fall way too much into predictable territory: every time Timothy is about to be killed by the ‘bad wolves’ someone off camera shoots the wolf, guns jam right when you expect them to and things just have a way of working out way too perfectly. The FX are provided by Stan Winston’s Studios, but I really wouldn’t brag about that because they’re some of the worst werewolf effects I’ve seen in a long time. For a movie that looks like it had a pretty decent budget, the wolves look like they having on nothing more than prosthetics and contacts. Michael Jackson’s "Thriller" video seriously puts ‘Skinwalkers’ to shame, effects-wise.

For the most part, the acting is quite good, but the characters are far too stereotypical to really care about and some of the dialogue is utterly cliché and far too repetitive in the genre , i.e. "If I change, you have to promise to kill me!" and much more. Aside from a pretty sweet shootout early in the film, the rest is fairly tame and really builds to nothing. The prophecy itself is never really developed and we’re just meant to accept as much as we’re told. Unfortunately, I like to give a shit about what I’m watching.

Previously R-rated, the film was dumbed down to a PG-13 rating, and judging by the film’s serious lack of violence, this is quite an annoying issue. It’s a fucking werewolf movie and you’re gonna hold back on the gore? Fuck a bunch of that. Bad scripting, weak FX, a lack of violence and a very modest score keeps Skinwalkers from being a pretty decent werewolf flick. But then again, did you really expect more from the director of Jason X?

2/5 Stars

Andrew's Hidden Message: How did Pumpkinhead’s FX look better than the werewolves in Skinwalkers when that movie was made in 1989? Oh well, Stan. You tried and that’s all that matters.

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