19th Feb2014

‘Skinwalkers’ Review (aka Skinwalker Ranch)

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: Taylor Bateman, Steve Berg, Michael Black, Erin Cahill, Carol Call, Kyle Davis, Jon Gries, Nash Lucas, Matthew Rocheleau | Written by Adam Ohler | Directed by Devin McGinn

skinwalkers

When Skinwalkers arrived to review, I was confused.  I remember Skinwalkers being a fairly good movie about werewolves, where this was not it.  Doing a bit of research (looked on IMDB) I discovered that this is in fact Skinwalker Ranch a “based on true events” found footage/documentary style tale of alien abduction.  That confusion over I was intrigued to see where this one would go.

In an event that “shocked the paranormal community around the world” a ten year old boy goes missing while playing baseball on his father’s ranch.  Years after, his father still lives there searching for signs of his son.  When a scientific team arrive to investigate the disappearance and strange events that take place on the ranch, they find that something very strange is happening there.

It is fair to say that Skinwalkers has many things wrong with it, think of almost every alien conspiracy theory and you’ll find it in here and that includes the shadowy strange cars sat in the distance watching the team as they work, then driving off when they are noticed.  On top of this we then have the mythology of the actual “Skinwalkers” and huge wolf like creatures that prowl the fields, and Native American mythology and even if pushing it all together is kind of cliché it works, for the most part at least.

The important thing about a movie is that it catches your interest, and yes for all Skinwalkers gets wrong (over shaking of the camera is one example of this) it actually creates a mystery that you do want to see a conclusion to.  I can’t really say that mystery was answered and personally I thought that the ending was weakened by going for an easy route, but to actually get to that conclusion there were many things that were actually interesting.  The Skinwalker wolves for example, though never really explained added an interesting aspect to the film and taking the time to connect the occurrences to a natural history around the ranch was actually a nice touch.  As with a lot of Alien Abduction stories though the ending falls into the tropes that you would hope the film could escape.

As I did mention this is a found footage film, and the fact that often the camera was shaken way too much I will actually defend the use of “found footage” in the movie.  For one, one of the most annoying things about this style of film is that the guy holding the camera is an asshole with a god complex who believes that they can hide behind the camera and survive anything.  In this that is not the case, many times we don’t even know who the person behind the camera is.  The real asshole is often in front of the camera and is that much of an ass you’ll find yourself actually insulting him out loud, especially in his worse moments.  For this you would have to congratulate the actor Steve Berg for that, as he plays the character Sam well and yes Sam is a total asshole.

The fact is Skinwalkers, or Skinwalker Ranch as it is also known does have its flaws and does fall into many traps that these types of movies often do, but it also pulls you into a mystery that you do want to find answers to.  What this means of course is that you can’t say it’s a total failure and you can’t sit there and sigh thinking “oh god, another found footage movie” but you accept that fact that yes, some parts don’t work but for the most they actually do.  Well thought out for the most part but weakened by some bad decisions Skinwalkers is worth a watch, which was a pleasant surprise.

Skinwalkers is released on DVD and Blu-ray on February 24th, courtesy of Signature Entertainment.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek.com
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