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DVD Review

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Starring: Jon Gries, Kyle Davis, Michael Black, Erin Cahill, Steve Barg and Taylor Bateman
Distributor: Signature Entertainment
RRP: £12.99
Certificate: 15
Release Date: 24 February 2014

A group of scientists and paranormal researchers arrive at the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah, to investigate a series of reported phenomena surrounding UFO sightings and cattle mutilations. This was the site where a young boy called Cody Miller went missing in 2010. His father saw him disappear in a bright flash of light, but other people in the region are divided over whether he was responsible. The father is as determined as ever to recover his boy, but the new arrivals at his ranch seem significantly more interested in the shocking and, frankly, frightening events which begin almost the moment they arrive. What appears to be the boy runs through the kitchen and vanishes again, large bright lights and smaller orbs are seen, dead bats crash into the roof, and a very large and ferocious animal attacks them. Then the group discovers that the organisation which funded this research was also at the ranch in the late sixties. A video tape is discovered, which reveals that a missing girl was found, but that she was something else when she returned. All bar one of the group are desperate to leave, but will whatever is there allow them to leave...?

I wanted to get this review out of the way first from the current batch, as I was fully expecting another Paranormal Activity-type movie where someone runs around with a camera for ninety minutes, doing nothing very interesting, and then the film ends suddenly, making you rue that hour and a half you’ll never get back. Although this one does end suddenly, there’s a very valid reason for it. As well as POV handheld camera work, there is also a certain amount of traditional filming. I must say that this is the sort of movie where you expect very little and so are pleasantly surprised when you get so much more. I’m not a fan of films which tie-up everything in a neat little package, as if you might not understand what has been rammed down your throat from the start, but in this case it would have been nice to get even a little hint of what this was all about, in terms of the reason why the events were taking place and what significance the ranch has in the visitations.

So, you can see I’m rather torn on this one. The plot, although apparently partly based on a true story, doesn’t really go anywhere. The characters are a little stereotypical, to the extent of being bland, all except for the boy’s father, who acts exactly the way you would expect him to, given the situation. The saving grace here is that shocking events come relatively thick and fast, and crank up the viewer interest (if not the tension) with increasingly bizarre happenings.

For all its faults, I found myself enjoying Skinwalkers, proved by the fact that the 86 minutes running time seemed to fly by. I just can’t find myself forgiving the non-conclusive and sudden ending. The Blair Witch Project has a lot to answer for.


Ty Power

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