Alas, another tale of werewolves, but this time the lycanthropic beasties ride in on motorcycles, slingin' lead a la Underworld, instead of just relying on their superhuman strength and razor sharp claws. It's like a modern day western with werewolves.
The effects in Skinwalkers are nice, a mix of makeup appliances and CG, but interestingly the werewolf design is along the lines of the classic Lon Chaney Wolfman and not extremely canine as one might expect to see given the potential of available digital technology and other films with more radical, and cooler, werewolf designs.
Transformations were also done mostly through cuts and not visual full-sequence. In fact one transformation scene, in which a werewolf is seen returning to human form, is very similar to the old-school lapse-dissolve used in the afore mentioned Wolfman. I'm not sure if this was an intentional tribute to that classic film or just a bad morph job. I find it hard to believe it is the result of poor craftsmanship considering that the rest of the digital work in the film was pretty seamless and effective.
The plot of Skinwalkers is okay, the action is good, the effects are good, the acting is okay, the cinematography is great but the color in some spots seems over-saturated, though the high contrast works. The ending is a bit thin but there is a fun twist with the grim reaper which adds a bit of comic relief from the relatively poor finale.
The story goes something like this: there is a feud between two rival groups of werewolves. One group strives to be normal human beings, controlling their urges (restrained during their moon swings) while the others accept their natural ways and wish to continue their regular consumption of human blood without interruption.
That interruption will occur when the chosen child turns 13, and for whatever supernatural reason upsets the carnivorous state of affairs for the wolf-naturalists. Of course this boy must be killed, so maiming, killing and transformations ensue as the good werewolves try desperately to stay one step ahead of the bad werewolves. Ain't that always the way.
The child is the offspring of a woman who is part of the good wolf family - though she is non-werewolf, and hitherto unaware of her wolfish relations - and the leader of the opposing, marauding werewolf-pack.
We're never quite sure what supernatural power makes the boy the key player, but whatever it is ultimately wins out and all ends well for mom, son and wolfdad. The boys thirteenth birthday brings the werewolf curse to an end and the family unit promptly returns to smiles and a future of fun and happiness, shrugging off the last hour and a half of bullets, bloodshed and bodies.
Skinwalkers is an okay reworking of werewolf lore, and the title is cool. Still, how many scenarios can be contrived for one species of movie-monster? I'm sure there will be more. I mean, seriously, who doesn't like werewolves?