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SKINWALKERS: Mediocrity at its Most Middling

Stale saltines. Plain oatmeal. Constantine, Michigan. Skinwalkers.

Cookies if you can identify what these four things all have in common, and no, excessive starchiness is not the answer. That’s right – they’re all about as remarkable as an empty pizza box. If there exists a Hell of Unappetizing Blandness, I expect it may involve eating stale saltines and oatmeal while watching Skinwalkers in the depths of rural Michigan.

The movie has a fairly simple premise – werewolves of opposing philosophies do battle over the life of a 13 year-old boy predicted by prophecy to end the werewolf curse. The bad werewolves, led by a delectable (if somewhat wooden – and not in a good way) Jason Behr, enjoy the power and bloodlust the curse engenders, and thus want the boy dead. The good werewolves, led by a less delectable (but also less wooden) Elias Koteas, want to keep the boy alive so that they can return human and live normal lives.  The boy and his mother just want to avoid becoming doggy treats over the next four days.  Cue numerous gun fights and chase scenes.

The premise isn’t terrible, and the movie might be more enjoyable if it had any real sense of style, a shred of originality, or even some genuinely intense special effects. Unfortunately, Skinwalkers makes a half-hearted effort at best, and the result is kitschy, clichéd, and kind of boring.  Jason Behr and his gang of blood-addicted werewolves are clearly bad ass because they ride motorcycles, wear grungy clothing, and have the special power of causing funky camera movements.  In werewolf form they look more like raging rednecks in dire need of dental care and some Nair than bloodthirsty lycanthropes, and while that’s certainly scary in its own way, it’s not so effective for the purposes of a supernatural action-thriller.

Oh Jason, why must our love affair be constantly muddled by patently pathetic plotlines and downright deadly dialogue?

The acting is mediocre at best and the character development is predictably laughable.  There’s an ending “twist,” but it feels inserted purely for the possibly of filming a sequel.  Should such a tragedy actually occur, I think I’d elect watching paint flake off my bedroom ceiling instead.

That said, Skinwalkers does do one thing decently: the action scenes interspersed between attempts at plot development.  There’s an entertaining gun fight early in the movie faintly reminiscent of Desperado in Pleasantville.  Although the characters all seem to have the aim of your average Star Trek red shirt, it is pretty funny watching a sweet-looking granny kick ass with what looks like a pair of hand cannons.  It’s hard to become very engaged when you care so little about the characters and the fights aren’t particularly novel, but they do fulfill the action quota of the film.

So in the end, Skinwalkers is nothing to write home about.  It’s not good enough to be very exciting, and not bad enough to be particularly funny.  It’s mediocre in a most average, blah sort of way and thus, recommended only when you really have absolutely nothing else to do with your time.

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