Sunday 19 April 2009


I don't watch a lot of werewolf movies. Not for lack of werewolves, I just usually pick something else. However, whenever I do watch a werewolf movie, I'm usually surprised by how much I liked it. Skinwalkers is no exception.

There are two kinds of werewolves, those that feed on humans and those that don't. The pacifist werewolves live peacefully with humans and lock themselves up during the full moon. The anarchist wolves see humans as little more than talking meet on feet. It has been prophesied that a child will bring about the end of werewolf kind, and the child's coming is heralded by a red moon. Unbeknown to Tim, he is the child of prophesy and when he turns 13, he will have the power to defeat the wolves. But no one knows exactly what he's supposed to do. As Tim's birthday nears, the anarchist wolves take to the road to track him down and ultimately kill him.

Skinwalkers, though it follows the general conventions of modern versus horror movies (a category I just made up), has none of the convolutions or epic story of similar films. Meaning, it fucking ends. And ends well, if not a little contrived. But I'm willing to overlook the contrivance because the rest of the movie is pretty good.

Everyone likes each other, for one thing. You don't see that a lot. These days, horror films are populated with dullards and idiots who would never, ever hang out. In Skinwalkers, the good guys are all friendly, and even the bad guys function well as a group, working together to achieve their common goals. And when intragroup conflict does arise, it's not forced, but follows naturally from the decisions and actions of the individual group members.

One of my roommates sat down to watch partway through the film. He snorted at the wolf makeup, saying werewolves don't look like that. We then had an argument about American Werewolf in London. He said that wolf was a muppet, that it was made by Jim Henson's creature shop. I said that "muppet" won an academy award. Score one for me. Personally, the makup effects in this movie didn't bother me; I bought into the film's premise, thus I bought into the film's werewolves. I don't know what a werewolf is supposed to look like, but how each film chooses to present its monster I think speaks to the film's overall commentary on the human animal. And Skinwalkers' more-human-than-wolf werewolves suggests that we are all capable giving over to our base animal nature, but, equally, we are all capable of overcoming it. And this opposition is further identified in the film's good vs bad story as well as its (slightly contrived) ending.

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