SKINWALKERS aka SKINWALKER RANCH (2013)
Directed by Devin McGinn
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Amazon
After year after farmer Hoyt Miller’s 10 year old son Cody goes missing into thin air right before his very eyes on his ranch in Utah, the Modern Defense Enterprises (MDE) sends in a team of researchers to discover the paranormal goings on, but none of them could be prepared for what will unfold.
SKINWALKERS is a found footage movie from Devin McGinn and writer Adam Ohler, inspired by true events at UFO hotspot, the Skinwalker Ranch in the USA. Presented as footage found from a journalist, the film documents the disappearance of young Cody, caught on film by his mother, followed by the subsequent investigation by the MDE researchers. Like several of the found footage movies we’ve seen in recent years, the freaky occurrences starts small, getting more sinister as the film progresses.
We’ve not had a decent ‘greys’ alien film presented to us in such a long time, so it’s finally nice to see a film which tackles the genre in a realistic way. Granted, greys may not be the only creatures seen in the film, but there’s just enough shown to keep the horror fan in you satisfied without over-doing it. If you, like me, enjoyed the glimpse of the grey walking past the children’s window in Signs then you’ll especially enjoy Skinwalker’s similar window scene, if you manage to spot it, that is!
The scares in Skinwalkers ranges from subtle to large displays, and the mixture of unexplained experiences to downright impossible ones makes for gripping viewing. The characters reactions to the events are on the money for the most part, whilst a couple of the characters could have been cut and we wouldn’t have missed them. To be honest, not that much time is spent developing the characters therefore they don’t come across as affecting the viewer, except for the characters of Hoyt and Sam. We can sympathise with Hoyt (played by the terrific Jone Gries of LOST and Napoleon Dynamite), a rancher and a farmer who’s lost his son to something paranormal and facing the future without him and without answers. Not only that, his wife appears to be in psychiatric care, no doubt from witnessing the disappearance of their son, and this has left Hoyt alone, carrying the grief every day and having to live on the spot where his life changed forever. Sam (Steve Berg) is an MDE researcher, and whilst his initial intentions seem to be discover where exactly Cody Miller disappeared to and the phenomena surrounding the event, it quickly becomes an obsession, disregarding any sort of wellbeing for his fellow researchers.
The acting for the most part is done well, although there are some parts that feature both script and actors who are a bit too obvious to convince as portraying ‘real people’ in this found footage film. It would have been great to have had a bit more character build-up inbetween the events on the ranch, as there is very little to get the viewer on side of the characters. Instead, the events happen pretty much one after the other without much of a break, losing the character development part.
If UFO’s films are your bag, especially stories told that are inspired by true events, then you’ll find Skinwalkers quite engrossing. Horror fans too will find a lot to enjoy here, from the scares, both subtle and obvious, to the personal POV style done with the handheld cam. Let your imagination run wild and you’ll find Skinwalkers a tense, freaky supernatural affair that drip feeds the horror until the final second.