WINTERSKIN *** UK 2018 Dir: Charlie Steeds. 84 mins
Whilst out hunting deer in the woods a young man, Billy (David Lenik) and his father Russell (Peter Cosgrove) get separated. Billy finds an old abandoned cabin and goes closer to investigate. On closer inspection he realises it is inhabited though not before getting shot in the leg and passing out. When he comes to he is greeted by an old lady calling herself Mama Agnes (Rowena Bentley) she explains that it was her that had shot him thinking he was one of the Red People, skinless human figures she has seen stalking the woods looking for victims. At first Billy does not believe this crazy lady and is more concerned with the fact that she wants to keep him captive. That is until one day he sees them for himself and finally believes her.
In the meantime Billy’s father disappears whilst out searching for his son and a group of townsfolk after losing radio contact with Russell join in the search and uncover other families that have been mysteriously massacred and get one step closer to discovering just what the strange skinless monsters are. This is kind of a monster movie with a heavily influenced element of Stephen Kings Misery to it. The thought behind this idea I quite like and it is done quite well. Most of it was shot in the UK but the beautiful snowy sets were filmed on location in Norway hence the reason it looks so stunning. Steeds has created this nicely shot and, at times, pretty intense movie but it is not without its flaws…. quite a few flaws in fact.
My main bugbear is that there is far too much talking, the acting style here is very amateur dramatics from all involved and they don’t seem to be able to pull off a dialogue heavy script. It is too over the top in places it shouldn’t be and severely unconvincing in places it should. The cast are all constants of Steeds having all been in his other movies; Lenik was in The Barge People and ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM, Bentley starred in The House Of Violent Desire as well as Escape From Cannibal Farm and good ol’ Barrington de la Roche (who never ceases to amuse me) has starred in all of the above and more. It’s cool that he sticks with actors he is familiar with but none of them come out of this looking great.
Bentley as the completely cuckoo Agnes is probably the most proficient here but she takes things too far and ends up getting on your nerves. They aim to build the characters and develop a story arc but Billy just comes across as weak and Agnes’ accent just makes you cringe. FX wise though they certainly try to ramp it up with a ridiculous amount of very pink fake blood spewing from every bullet hole. The skinned people when they do appear (which isn’t that frequently) are gooey and grotesque as are the torture scenes, resulting wounds and rather a lot of vomit. These are my reasons for scoring this 3 stars as just going by the acting would’ve resulted in it scoring very poorly also the soundtrack is very impressive which adds to the pros. The final scenes descend into super slo-mo with some very dramatic music but isn’t as satisfying as you expect which again lets it down.
Review by Sarah Budd