Defanged werewolf flick doesn't have much bite


on August 10, 2007 by Chad Greene
“You want to see something freaky?” Rachel (Rhona Mitra) asks her sickly son Timothy (Matthew Knight), drawing back the shade by his bed to reveal a red moon—four nights from fullness—hanging heavily in the night sky. “Isn't that awesome?”

Not really. As they'll realize soon enough, audiences watching that scene are seeing in Skinwalkers something almost as “freaky”: a werewolf flick that was originally rated R but then defanged to earn a PG-13 instead. Unfortunately, the resulting monster movie doesn't have much of a bite.

What we're left with is a pack of evil werewolves—led by the villainous Varek (Jason Behr)—who are more mildly menacing in their daytime guises as black-clad bikers than during their twilight transformations into bloodthirsty beasts. Pitted against them are a society of reluctant lycanthropes—led by the virtuous Jonas (Elias Koteas)—with an unfortunate penchant for strapping themselves down during the full moon in an assortment of leather harnesses and metal chains that makes them resemble nothing so much as a group of frustrated furries who've wandered into an S&M meeting by mistake.

Varek's gang is trying to track down Timothy, a half-breed who—if he lives to celebrate his 13th birthday on the night of the full red moon—will fulfill an ancient Native American prophecy and bring about the end of their wanton way of life.

That said, the most farfetched thing about Skinwalkers is the incomprehensible inability of the big, bad biker wolves to catch up with the enormous armored RV that Jonas—whose brother was the boy's father—and his pack shove the understandably skeptical Rachel and Timothy into when Varek attacks.

At one point in their race against the ticking clock, Jonas tells Rachel that she'll have to tap into “the beast inside” to save her son. Too bad the filmmakers didn't follow that advice themselves and let Skinwalkers charge into theatres howling instead of whimpering.
Distributor: After Dark
Cast: Rhona Mitra, Matthew Knight, Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Kim Coates, Natassia Malthe, Sarah Carter, Tom Jackson, Barbara Gordon, Shawn Roberts and Lyriq Bent
Director: Jim Isaac
Screenwriters: James DeMonaco & Todd Harthan & James Roday
Producers: Don Carmody and Dennis Berardi
Genre: Horror
Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language
Running time: 110 min.
Release date: August 10, 2007
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