Director: Charlie Steeds
Performers: David Lenik, Rowena Bentley, and Barrington de la Roche
When a man and his son Billy get separated in the forest during a blizzard, Billy stumbles upon a cabin harboring a strange resident. Winterskin is a film for a very specific audience base. For those of us who love 80s inspired horror, this is a perfect tribute. If you enjoy classic 80s horror films, you’ll love this one for the over-the-top gore and acting. The tone and even the soundtrack sound very much like a cult 70s or 80s classic, and despite the ham-fisted dialogue and delivery, the film is actually very effective at crafting that nostalgic horror tone. Let it take you along for the ride and it’s loads of fun. If you’re looking for strong acting and realistic effects though, it’s not for you.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead!
The film opens with a horror montage of something breaking into a cabin as the inhabitants struggling to hide their children. The acting is supremely over-the-top, and it may leave you rolling your eyes. Stick with it! This is the film’s tone. Slowly it becomes more normal as the horror sets in, especially once Billy is shot and trapped in the cabin with Mother Agnes, a strange old woman living in the middle of nowhere with her dog and fearing what she calls The Red Devil, a skinless human roaming the forest. The cabin tension is palpable, and we feel Billy’s discomfort as he forcibly stays with Agnes while his leg heals. Agnes is clearly unstable, and the cabin becomes Billy’s prison as he weighs his options: stay with Agnes and subjected to her mad whims or face the snow and The Red Devil.
The cabin scenes owe their pacing and angles to Evil Dead, and the fight scenes there use slow motion to effectively disarm the audience. The blood effects look like red syrup explosions, and the gore – from the skinned bodies to the snipped off fingers – vary from hilariously unrealistic to unsettling in a manner reminiscent of the first Hellraiser movie. It’s not a gore-fest in the modern sense of a movie like Hostel, but it has enough gross out factor to keep horror fans entertained. The mystery is solid too. It kept me guessing for a bit. Overall, a well-filmed movie aiming for some deserved cult status. It just needs to find the right audience.