This week I had the opportunity to check out the new film Winterskin from acclaimed director Charlie Steeds (Escape From Cannibal Farm, House of Violent Desire). Starring David Lenik and Rowena Bentley, Winterskin is a Stephen King’s Misery-esque horror thriller from the UK. Whilst out hunting with his father, Billy Cavanagh is wounded by a gunshot. Obviously hurt, he stumbles upon the cabin of an eccentric old lady called Agnes. Soon thereafter Agnes begins to tell Billy about these skinless/bloody creatures that often try and force their way into their cabin. Billy thinks Agnes is a loon, and isn’t sure he believes her. Eventually, the young man comes to realize that Agnes isn’t wrong about the creatures, however he also learns that the truth about where they come from is far more sinister than imagined.
Another Charlie Steed film, The Barge People, has been on my anticipated list since I first wrote about it last year. For this reason, I was rather excited to have the opportunity to view and review Winterskin prior to it’s release later this month. There are so many things this film does well.
First of all, this film is visually breathtaking. The winter woods setting is quite beautiful, and really gives the film a stunning look. This combined with stellar cinematography really stood out. Another awesome aspect of the movie is the score. Far from a generic horror score, or just some random rock music, Winterskin is filled with some eery bits of music reminiscent of some of the best horror scores from years gone by. The sights and sounds on display here really make for a chilling atmosphere.
Another fun aspect of the movie is the story itself. Even though most of the film follows two main characters, the pacing seemed pretty on point. The story didn’t feel like it was being dragged out, and it was entertaining. There are a couple different twists and turns, nothing that is absolutely mind blowing, but certainly enough to keep the narrative moving and fresh. It is a violent film, which is always a plus for me. There’s no shortage of blood or puke.
While there was a lot to like about this film, it was not completely without flaws. Few independent horror films are devoid of the phenomena known as “over-acting,” and Winterskin is no exception. I don’t want this to sound too harsh, as I thought overall the acting from the two main characters Billy and Agnes was fine. It got a little rough when we are introduced to some of the secondary characters, though. Along with that, it did seem that some of the dialogue for those characters was a little shoddy.
While not really a complaint, I would have liked to have seen a bit more of these skinless creatures. Reminiscent of skinless Frank from Hellraiser, these creatures looked damn good and some of the best scenes were the ones with their presence. I don’t really consider this a major flaw, as this picture achieved its creepiness more from the chilling atmosphere and characters. They were just really cool and I wanted to see more.
Overall, I really enjoyed Winterskin and consider it above average indie horror fare. The visuals and the score really worked well together in achieving a genuinely spooky atmosphere. This atmosphere combined with an entertaining plot with some twists really made Winterskin and enjoyable watch. Charlie Steeds has been, and will continue to be, a staple in the UK’s independent horror scene. Check out the trailer below, and be sure to find time to watch Winterskin when it is released on DVD and VOD May 21st!
My score: 6.5/10