Written and directed by Charlie Steeds, Winterskin is a film about monsters. Just not the sort that you would normally expect.
David Lenick stars as Billy, out hunting in the snow when he distracted by some blood and fur nearby. Following the trail of viscera, he arrives at a remote cabin hidden within the wilderness and promptly gets shot in the leg by the owner.
This is Agnes (Rowena Bentley) and she shot Billy thinking he was a skinless monster that she claims haunts the woods around her. She tells him this as she patches him up, insisting that he will have to stay with her until he is well enough to walk.
Less than thrilled about this but aware he won’t make it far with his injury, Billy agrees and sets about getting to know Agnes a little better. No easy task as she is mysterious, eccentric and seems to be hiding something from him.
As the weeks pass, Billy grows more and more suspicious of Agnes true intentions for him. Her behaviour alternates between caring, dismissive and dangerous making him fearful for his life. He starts to doubt the stories about the skinless monsters and starts to plan his escape.
Agnes isn’t just going to let him walk out of there though.
You can draw parallels to 1987’s Misery regarding the Billy/Agnes relationship but that’s about where the similarities end. Partially because the story-telling and pacing of the movie is haphazard. Yes, one of the biggest problems with Winterskin is how it tells its story. It has far too many unanswered questions and some glaring plot-holes. It doesn’t flow well, as time passing is left to the imagination, and consistently jumps around in such a way that it starts to confuse.
The first half of the movie is downright frustrating to watch. Not helped by some iffy performances and cringe-inducing dialogue. Why was it decided that Agnes would have that accent? It’s one of the worst things in the film and you will suffer full-body cringe every time she says ‘child’ in the hokey voice. It’s a shame as Rowena Bentley is a good actor and really comes to life in the second half of the film. The same can be said for Lenick’s Billy, who is far too bland to get behind at first, but reveals that he isn’t quite who he said he was as the movie goes on.
Admittedly though, it’s the high points that stick in the mind afterwards. As well as the look of the skinless monsters, the blood splatter from gunshots and the over-the-top acting in the finale.
The quality of what you’re watching dips far too often though as it tries to sustain several different stories happening at once. Eventually, when they all come together, it should be satisfying but ends up leaving you with a ton more questions.
The Final Score - 5/10