In honor of the upcoming TerrorCon, June 7&8, I’ve decided to embark on a month (and a day) long horror movie marathon. This will consist of classics, new films, things I’ve been meaning to watch and old favorites I haven’t viewed in a while- anything from horror themed action comedies to old school slasher to big name monsters.
SkinWalkers may seem like a weird place to start, but i’m a huge fan of werewolves. In the film, there are two werewolf packs. One embraces the beast and the other wants “the curse to end” (wack. being a werewolf would be the coolest). A half werewolf half human child on the eve of his 13th birthday controls the fate of the species. So basically: sharp teeth +ancient prophecies +special snowflake children +sexy people and CGI.
One thing is immediately obvious: Skinwalkers are not actually Werewolves. Skinwalkers are part of a Navajo legend, those who would become Skinwalkers are highly skilled priests who take the form of animals to inflict pain and suffering, to achieve the ability to shapeshift they must kill a close family member. Popular forms include coyote, crow, owl fox.. and wolf. Which is where the skinwalkers = werewolves came into play for these particular Hollywood types. Skinwalkers’ identities must remain a secret, in the legend pronouncing the evil one’s full name would mean his death. That’s a tad easier than a well aimed silver bullet. Recent fantasy lit and TV has grabbed on to alternate versions of Skinwalkers lately, from Patricia Brigg’s main protag Mercy Thompson who shapeshifts solely to coyote, to ML Brennan’s white blooded/sharp-nailed literally wearing human skin villain, it was True Blood that came closest to the original tale with Sam Merlotte’s short time lover, Luna- she technically killed her mother (being born) and could change skin to a human. None are an exact match, the Navajo took the threat of skinwalkers so seriously that wearing animal pelts was taboo, worn only for ceremony and they did not use the hides of predator animals.
The movie does little justice to the original source material, aside from shots that show the soon to be teenager’s gun toting grandma becoming suspicious of a hawk over head before a leather wearing biker type werewolf comes into view. If Tim lives to be 13, the werewolf curse will be broken. 3 days prior, the moon turns red and team “I ❤ being a werewolf” goes on the hunt, Tim and his human mother are quickly scooped up by the good guys. As if the threat to Tim’s life wasn’t enough from badass wolves, he’s also a sickly and asthmatic little dude. It ramps up the urgency and it’s not bad.
The awesomeness of werewolves are usually smothered by misogyny: From the barren and bitter female wolves in the Mercy Thompson series, to the dominant male wolves and crazy wild women in Sookie Stackhouse novels (and TrueBlood’s out of control Debbie Pelt) to the naked and crazy slutty slut slut wolf women in the Anita Blake novels (who are powerful, but hardly ever lead a pack, and if they do it’s because they are impulsive and brutal, not because they are good leaders). Skinwalkers escapes that trope with competent females on both sides:
From Sonja, who wants to be a werewolf: she’s as vicious and badass as her male counterparts, fierce and no one’s lover or plaything. Sonja was played by Natassia Malthe who major had roles in Bloodrayne: Deliverance, Bloodrayne:Third Reich, Alone in the Dark 2. Not exactly big hits. But her character had value, and man could she wear that bikini top and Levis.
Sarah Carter (TV series Falling Skies) played Katherine, sweet cute and loyal… well, that goes awry, but she’s smart and nice and still vicious when necessary.
And of course:
Holding it down for the humans: Rhona Mitra (Number 23, SGU:Stargate Universe, UnderWorld:Rise of the Lycans) cool headed protector willing to take on man and beast alike. She goes from disbelief to gun toting final-girl esque action-mom rather quickly.
The cinematography is good, most scenes are filmed with a reddish hue, scenes of team “keep Tim alive” are often tense while they hide from the bad dudes. Slow motion angle changes intensify action sequences There’s not much focus on the transformations but the full werewolf make up is decent if uninspired.
That’s Jason Behr- Tim’s father, Bad Wolf former star of Roswell and the Grudge.
Also starring Elias Koteas from Shutter Island, Let Me In and the Killing as the leader of Team Tim.
Directed by James Isaac …also known for Jason X ..This flick was much better than that. The ending was awesome, while the plot (by James Roday- the white guy from Psych, James DeMonaco and Todd Harthan) was somewhat convoluted, it was snappy and enjoyable and looked as flashy and spectacular as one would hope.
But was it scary? Well, not really. It was so action packed and zany that there is no stretch of the imagination that this would happen to me and there weren’t any “jump out of your seat moments.” This is more in the vein of Underworld, Van Helsing, Resident Evil action with a horror twist.
Overall rating: 3.5/5