A chilling film reminiscent of “Misery” and “The Hateful Eight”, this tense and gory fright fest will literally get under your skin.
It’s springtime, and the snow is long gone here. But despite the warmth outside, I got some genuine shivers from the new horror thriller Winterskin!
Being snowbound in a cabin with something creeping around outside, wanting to kill you, is not a new idea. But in Charlie Steed’s Winterskin, that story is twisted, suspenseful and full of surprises.
Synopsis: After being seriously shot at an isolated cabin, when he got separated from his father Russell, Billy Cavanagh is taken in by Agnes, the strange old lady who resides there. Unaware at first why she shot him, Billy soon attempts to escape the horrors stalking him outside, and inside the cabin.
The film starts out with a scene of brutal bloodiness, that lets us know some serious stuff is going down in this beautiful remote winter wonderland.
Fast forward to Billy (David Lenik) and his father (Peter Cosgrove) out hunting, when Billy wanders off to check out a cabin in the distance.
Walking up to the cabin, he is shot by an unseen person and falls into the snow. He awakens inside to a sinister old lady named Agnes (Rowena Bentley) who takes care of the wound she admits was her doing. Agnes is quite a long-winded storyteller. She explains that she thought he was one of the creatures just outside the cabin stalking her. These bloodthirsty demons are shaped like a man, but horrifically, a man with no skin.
It doesn’t take long before Billy figures out he is a prisoner in the cabin. Agnes is not there to save him. They do come together, at one point, to fight the evil skinless monsters. But when the lightbulb comes on for him, the audience gets the idea too. And that aha moment at the climax is almost too horrible to imagine!
There were truly only two characters who carried the film. Agnes and Billy (mostly Agnes) had the bulk of the dialog. Both had secrets and hidden agendas. But Agnes was definitely the one that created all the tension.
I loved the dynamics between these two, and they kept me on the edge of my seat right up to the action-packed finale.
The other minor characters were awesome, too. Russell Cavanaugh, the neighboring lawman, and his posse of townsfolks, had some great mountain men moments.
Winterskin had an underlying sense of dark humor with a very bloody over-the-top Tarantinoesque feel.
Nothing was really what it seemed to be. And there was a skin-crawling feeling that something was just plain wrong throughout the entire film.
The cinematography from Michael Lloyd had some interesting choices. They weren’t all perfect, but the ones that worked were terrific. I kinda liked its ’80s slasher film vibe. The exterior shots filmed in Norway were gorgeous. The SFX by Kate Griffiths were top notch and incredibly bloody. It hurt to look at some of the kills; they were that well done.
(One quick spoiler: If you are a dog lover, you may want to skip this film. I had to put my hand over the middle of the screen for a few minutes. I just feel like that needed to be mentioned.)
Overall WINTERSKIN is a very good indie film. The twists, shocks and surprises were cool and unique. And it was nice not to see the same old cabin in the woods film. Finding out who the monster was really got to me. Even though I pretty much figured it out early on, I kept dismissing it and telling myself, ‘no, that can’t be’. Evil comes in all forms though, right?