Winterskin opens like a cross between an '80s slasher movie, complete with Carpenter-esque synth soundtrack, and a ‘creature of the week’ episode of The X-Files. In a remote cabin, a family are brutally – and very gorily – murdered by a mysterious axe-wielding attacker and what appears to be a red-painted Crawler from The Descent.
And that’s about as good as it gets.
Written, directed, produced, and edited by Charlie Steeds, Winterskin has a decent idea. But it is one virtually unrecognisable hidden beneath the gore, hammy accents, incoherently annoying script and wholly unlikeable characters.
Seeking refuge amidst a snowfall an injured man stumbles upon a cabin occupied by an eccentric old woman. Each has a barely hidden agenda, and as time passes, they grow increasingly, violently suspicious of each other. And there may or may not be a ‘Red Man’ stalking the cabin; a skinned, bloody creature trying to get in.
That is the film you’ll want to watch, a claustrophobic character study under threat from a malevolent presence. But that’s not what you get. Steeds has thrown every cliché at his film and sadly most of it has stuck. Old woman Agnes is folksy to the point of extreme irritation, one yee-haw short of a rodeo, while her house guest Billy is possibly the dumbest horror character in recent times, exhibiting zero understanding of his predicament and you hope for a quick and painful death to spare us all his ongoing existence.
No, Winterskin is a dull, tedious, and frankly annoying film that with better direction, editing, acting and, well… frankly everything, could have at least been passable.