Skinwalker Movie Review

Written by Janine Pipe

Released by Uncork'd Entertainment

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Written and directed by Robert Conway
2021, 94 minutes, Not Rated
Released on July 13th, 2021

Eva Hamilton as Maisie
Cameron Kotecki as Riggs
Amelia Haberman as Nellie
Dan Higgins as Bascom
Daniel Link as Willard
Charlie E Motley as Vern
Nathaniel Burns as Benny

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I don’t know whether it is because I am British, but I find the American ‘Wild West’ truly fascinating. The more I learn about this time period, the more I realise it doesn’t actually need a horror element to count as this particular sub-genre, just the actual history itself is horrific enough.

There has been a surge of ‘splatterpunk westerns’ in the literary world and of course, this concept in movie form isn’t new – Bone Tomahawk is a fantastic example of a well-done horror western.

Skinwalker seems to be a fairly low-budget affair which doesn’t always mean it won’t deliver – just look at Host and you’ll see what I mean.

It has an interesting premise – a couple of white men steal an amulet from the grave of a Native American woman and of course, her spirit is not happy and so places a curse upon them. The curse gets passed from person to person and soon there are a lot of bodies left behind. We also meet a man with three wives, a couple of deputies with a woman prisoner and some outlaws, whose lives and deaths all become linked due to this vengeful skinwalker spirit.

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Skinwalker is an okay movie with some good scenes. It isn’t particularly original, but what lets it down is some of the acting and I can’t quite put my finger on why. Maybe it was filmed during the pandemic and some of the segments were rushed? Because a lot of the movie is okay bordering on good and then on occasion there is a really awkward and wooden clip with very dubious dialogue and actions; it is quite odd and a shame.

For example, there is one scene where the woman prisoner strikes one of the outlaws with a pistol and it looks like one of those stunts you practice in high school drama classes. That’s not to say all the acting sucks, there are just a couple of parts that feel amateur. I did warm to a few of the characters, most notably Nellie, one of the young wives who seems to have a decent bit of fight in her, and Riggs, a deputy with a heart. Both the actors and acting are enjoyable to watch.

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Despite those couple of ‘off’ sections, there are several decent kills and scenes resplendent with gore and well done SFX. There is one sequence near to the end, which is more like a montage, and I loved it. The film went to black-and-white and ‘oldie-timey’, in slow-motion and with no dialogue, just a musical score playing over the action, and it is great, it fits with the aesthetic and is a great way to reveal and show without information dumping or giving too much away.

I also very much enjoyed the very final clip and I won’t say anything else about that, as I don’t want to give anything away but I applaud that choice.

All in all Skinwalker feels mainly authentic in setting and costume etc. and has some enjoyable moments. I would happily watch more of director Robert Conway’s work.

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Movie: 3 Star Rating Cover

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Janine Pipe
Staff Reviewer
Janine has enjoyed horror from an early age, frightening herself with ghost stories and learning the craft from Stephen King. After trading in a police badge and an apple for the teach (ing assistant) er, she decided to try her hand at something she loved – writing her own scary stuff. She has many terrifying tales published and has been nominated for a 2020 Splatterpunk Award. She hopes her mum never reads a certain story about a hole in a tree … As well as reading and writing, she is an editor and publicist for Kandisha Press with her BFF Jill, where she is always on the lookout for new women’s voices for their anthologies. Her favourite authors and influences are quite obvious when you read her work. But she’d like to remind you they are: Glenn Rolfe, Hunter Shea and Tim Meyer. When not writing, reading or reviewing, Janine can be found at home with her husband and daughter, planning their next trip to Walt Disney World and drinking obscene amounts of coffee.
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