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WINTERSKIN (2018)

Directed by Charlie Steeds
Written by Charlie Steeds
Starring David Lenik, Rowena Bentley, Barrington De La Roche, John Lomas, Kate Davies-Speak, Dylan Curtis, Harrison Nash, Peter Cosgrove, Swainley Whipps Eden-Entwistle, Richard Myers, Daniel McKee as the Red Man!
Find out more about this film here

Though I believe WINTERSKIN tries to tell a modern tale, this one feels like a classic in almost every way. Undeniably low budget, WINTERSKIN still manages to incorporate high tension scares, stomach-churning gore, and a sense of terror snatched from some of the best Grimm, Poe, and Lovecraft tales.

A traveler named Billy (David Lenik) wounded and in search of sanctuary happens upon the solitary cabin of an elderly woman named Agnes (Rowena Bentley). As he heals, Billy begins to realize all is not right with Agnes. Turns out she must bolt the doors at night in order to protect herself and her dog from skinless monsters that lurk in the surrounding wilderness. Facing lunacy inside and true monsters inside, Billy has nowhere to hide.

Don’t think I don’t recognize the BLACK CHRISTMAS references with Billy and Agnes, because I caught that right off the bat and though this one isn’t necessarily a slasher taking place over Christmas break, it still is a winter-set horror film and I imagine the names of these characters were not made by coincidence as a fun homage to one of the best horror films of all time.

That aside, WINTERSKIN feels like a retelling of a classic fable with a cabin deep in the woods, a crone in the middle of said woods, and lurking terrors set to threaten our hapless hero. The entire narrative sounds like a story told by a campfire and feels like something wholly different than what one might expect out of low fi movies of the moment. No slashers or zombies (though I suppose the skinless monsters serve as a substitute for zombies here) here, just nicely paced moments of tension and fear peppered with some impressive practical effects.

Sure there are some moments where the acting is not the best and I feel the plot gets a bit convoluted as it nears the climax of the film. But WINTERSKIN does a lot of good. It’s unconventional horror executed in an impressive and potent way. It’s a film that will stick with you after the credits, like one of those lost finds on the video store shelf you weren’t prepared for. Be sure to check out this low fi surprise.