Skinwalker (USA, 2021)

When an outlaw makes a grave mistake and steals from a Native American grave, lawmen, townsfolk, and outlaws are set to fall prey to the titular creature.

In 1889, two grave robbers have done their jobs for the night. When Hugo learns his partner Benny has stolen from a Native American grave. He informs Hugo that traders will play top dollar for their things. Hugo fears something bad will happen and that night, he is bitten by a rattler and dies. However, he comes back to life and injures Benny before he shoots him in the dead. Benny leaves the area in search of help.

The next day, Sheriff Bascom and Deputy Riggs have tracked down and have captures Maisie, the wife of notorious outlaw Dalton, who has gone missing. Meanwhile, when Benny passes out and is found by local Vern, Vern learns what he has done, he intends to return what he has stolen to the Native Americans due to his good relationship with them. However, it soon becomes too late as the Skinwalker, a mysterious entity, is slowly creeping up on everyone in its path and former rivals are now forced into an alliance to stop this common enemy before it’s too late.

Now, here is a nice little gem of a horror film that takes us the Old West and brings to mind a Native American legend. Writer/director Robert Conway takes two stories and meshes them together with the titular monster haunting everyone. Instead of making this look like an anthology, he brings the two separate stories together for the third act. What’s interesting is that the film is comprised of mainly anti-heroes and very few righteous characters, with Cameron Kotecki’s Deputy Riggs being the most good-natured character along with Amelia Haberman’s Nellie another example.

Eva Hamilton’s Maisie spends most the movie in captured form as she is wanted for murder as well as possibly luring the lawmen to her outlaw husband. She does tend to flirt a bit with Riggs in hopes of being free, but to no avail. Despite her having a good nature, the fact that she is the wife of a notorious bandit is good enough warrant from the unscrupulous Sheriff Bascom. Meanwhile, we see Nathaniel Burns’ Benny taken in and pretty much forced to face the consequences of his actions when he’s confronted by local Vern and his daughters, who while Vern goes to make amends, find themselves besieged by a trio of robbers as well.

The scare tactics are pretty gruesome at times as we see various folks being “possessed” by the titular Skinwalker, including our writer/director in the opening scene. The film does very well in meshing Western action with the horror and the juxtaposing of stories before putting them together. The final act is quite surprising when all the pieces are put together.

Skinwalker is a very interesting meshing of Western, Native American legends, and horror. A good meshing of two separate stories that come together with the appearance of the titular creature make this a pretty good film.

WFG RATING: B-

Uncork’d Entertainment presents a BlueSideUp Films production in association with MatchStick Movies. Director: Robert Conway. Producers: Owen Conway, Robert Conway, Norman S. Davis, Phil Staley, and Tommye Staley. Writer: Robert Conway. Cinematography: Robert Conway. Editing: Owen Conway and Robert Conway.

Cast: Eva Hamilton, Cameron Kotecki, Dan Higgins, Nathaniel Burns, Charlie E. Motley, Daniel Link, David Staley, Mikey Reed, Victorio Pope, Jess Yazzle, Amelia Hanberman, Becky Jo Harris, Kelli Jo Richardson.

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