Charlie Steed has been on a tear, directing five films since 2016, and with two more in various stages of production. Winterskin is the third film he’s done since last year’s Cannibal Farm. He’s expanded his scope a bit this time, traveling to Norway to film the snowy exteriors, (the film is set in the USA), and the interiors in the UK. It’s certainly a beautiful looking film, but is the plot as enticing?
Winterskin starts with a pre-title sequence of a family being slaughtered by something that breaks into their cabin before getting into its main plot. Billy (David Lenik, The Barge People ) and his father Russell (Peter Cosgrove, Spirits In The Dark) are out hunting deer when they get separated. Billy ends up getting taken in by Agnes (Rowena Bentley, House Of Violent Desire), though not before she shoots him.
However, it soon becomes obvious that the old woman is hiding something. There’s something out in the woods, there’s something out in the woods. Something evil, and apparently skinless. And it wants in.
Winterskin is an odd cross between Misery and a monster movie. Agnes starts out as seemingly odd, though living alone out here in the middle of nowhere might do that to a person. But it soon becomes obvious she’s insane. Her reaction to finding her dog dead and skinned, (and her disposal of the body), make that clear. And then there’s The Red Man (Daniel McKee), whatever he might be, out in the darkness.
It’s a nice set up for a film, but it’s wasted on a load of talk. There’s also a trio of nasty looking locals going around looking for Billy and his dad and apparently finding the remains of several massacres. But who they are and why the area isn’t crawling with cops and Nation Guard, (they’ve been calling in their findings), isn’t explained. Winterskin is at the 50-minute mark before The Red Man reappears.
Now I understand when you’re working on a low budget you can’t have wall to wall action. But I’m getting tired of films that are solid talk from after the opening kill through to the last 20 or so minutes. In the case of Winterskin, you could fast forward through the middle and miss not a thing. Even the exposition is saved for the end. At least give us something to hold our interest.
Winterskin does have a fairly good final act, but I doubt many people will still be paying attention by then. If you want a film about skin stealing creatures, track down a festival showing of Shed.
Dark Temple and High Octane Pictures will release Winterskin on digital May 21st. The soundtrack, which is quite cool in an 80’s John Carpenter way is available on Amazon and iTunes from Lakeshore Records.