Winterskin Review

B-horror movies are meant to break from the mainstream and, instead, be a celebration of ridiculousness and border the line of comedy. Heads bursting, over-exaggerated reactions, and just buckets of gore are tropes littering these sorts of films. It’s good old-fashioned horror fun and something that isn’t seen much today. Filmmakers who choose to make a b-horror film usually earn my respect for trying to bring back a dead genre. However, Winterskin is not one of those films.

Story

The story begins with a family getting shot and hacked to death by some unknown assailant. Soon after, we see Billy and his father Russell out in the woods looking for something. Billy gets separated from his father and stumbles upon a cabin. As he approaches it, a gunshot is heard and we see a bullet fly through the front door of the cabin and enter Billy’s leg. He passes out and awakens sometime later inside the cabin. An old woman named Agnes has been tending to his wound and apologizes to him for shooting him. She thought he was a burglar and reacted out of fear.

Note
WARNING: The next section contains spoilers. Please do not click on the spoiler tag if you do not want the rest of the film ruined for you. 
Contents
Misery

Billy is creeped out by Agnes but, seeing as he has no choice, he accepts her care. She tells him the real reason why she shot him is that there are monsters in the woods that want to steal her skin. He’s skeptical of her story and decides to leave one night. However, Agnes’s dog escapes and Billy tries to get him back. A snowstorm is raging outside, so he retreats back inside and wraps himself up to get warm. He wakes up and hears Agnes crying over the skinned body of her dog.

Billy admits that he let the dog out and Agnes becomes enraged. She attacks him and then backs off after he pleads with her. Later that night, Agnes apologizes to Billy and makes him a nice stew. The two of them eat and she notes how quickly he is devouring his food. She then reveals that at least her dog had some usefulness to them, indicating that she used his meat in the stew. Billy spits out the stew which offends Agnes. He apologizes and says she should have told him before feeding it to him, and she apologizes again and agrees. Billy excuses himself and throws up.

Madness Revealed

Days keep passing with no sign of Russell. Deciding that it’s time to leave, Billy tries to shoot Agnes with her gun but realizes there are no bullets in it. He steals her bullets and keeps them hidden underneath his bed. The next night, Billy sees a blood-covered monster scratching at the window. Agnes comes in and says that it must have followed her while she was gathering wood. She chastises Billy as it breaks in and orders him to shoot it before it kills them both. After a struggle, Billy finally gets a hang of the gun and shoots it right as the monster called out his name.

On the night that he plans to leave, he tries to shoot Agnes but the gun doesn’t go off. Agnes wakes up and Billy tells her the real reason his father and he were in the woods. They were investigating the murders of the family from the beginning of the film, and he suspected Agnes was the one behind them. She attacks him, hysterically laughing, and reveals that the monster was actually Russell, whom she had skinned alive. She admits that she’s the killer and the two fight for their lives. He is able to knock her out and radios for help. Ruth, another member of their party, picks up his signal and tell him he’s headed their way.

The Final Terror

Agnes and Billy continue to struggle, but she’s able to overpower him in the end. She ties him up and cuts off his fingers using his dad’s cigar cutter. When he comes to it is revealed that all of his fingers are missing and bandaged tight so he can’t use a gun to shoot her. She hears the hunting party arriving, so she forces Billy in a trap door under the floorboards. Ruth, Chuck, and Pete arrive but are confused to find nobody home. Ruth notes that there is got stew on the fire and says they couldn’t have gone far. He serves the three of them, and they begin to eat until one of them find Russell’s tooth in their stew. Billy calls out which causes Agnes to shoot Ruth in his groin.

The shock of the attack makes Ruth discharge his rifle and shoots Chuck in his head, killing him instantly. Pete scrambles to pick up his gun while Agnes makes her way up through the trapdoor. He tries to shoot her but misses and is shot by her instead. Ruth tackles her and tries to buy Billy time to leave. She’s able to wrestle the rifle out of his hands and shoots Ruth in the head. This gives Billy enough time to pick up Chuck’s pistol and shoot Agnes in her eye. He proclaims all he ever wanted to do was kill her before leaving the cabin.

Characters

Billy CavanaghAgnesRussell CavanaghRuthChuckPete

A young man on a hunt with his father, Russel. The two get separated and he ends up at a lone cabin in the woods. He ends up getting shot by the owner, Agnes. She brings him in to care for his wound.


A reclusive and eccentric old woman living in the woods. She shoots Billy, believing him to be one of the monsters she’s spotted out in the woods.

Billy’s father who gets separated from Billy at the beginning of the film.

A member of Russell’s hunting party and one of the locals. It’s clear that they are looking for more than wild game out in the woods.

Another member of the hunting party with a strong appetite and a weak stomach.

The final member of the hunting party. He’s quiet, and not very good with his gun.

Cinematography

The visuals in this film were very amateurish. There were lighting issues throughout the film with the bright scenes being too bright and the dark scenes being too dark. The production team used those weird film filters that make everything look blurry and hazy.

The special effects weren’t very great either, except for the monster design. I found it to be well done and it was probably the best actor in the entire film. However, the gore and blood were too over-the-top and ridiculous to the point of hilarity. The filmmaker must have a vomit fetish because it almost seemed like that was his go-to every time the characters witnessed something disturbing. I feel like a lot of this was meant to shock the audience, but it just made me laugh because it was so overused and ridiculous.

Soundtrack

The film seemed to be littered with free-for-use music one could find on Youtube. It was all very generic and nothing stood out. In fact, when the creature finally attacks the music makes the entire scene comical. It was like something out of a parody movie, and I think it had the opposite effect of what the director had intended.

Genre

I will say, for all of its faults, Winterskin does a decent job sticking to the horror genre. It may not be well executed or make a cohesive statement, but it does embody many of the classic horror and B-horror tropes. I think the filmmakers just wanted to make a horror film, but they didn’t take the time to bring things to the next level. I feel like there was a good foundation present, but somehow that got lost in the end product.

Final Thoughts

Horror is a subjective drama because, like comedy, everyone finds what affects them personally to be different. Some people might find monsters to be scary while others might find giant bugs to be terrifying instead. What can’t be forgiven is the terrible acting and the bizarre decisions made. I looked up background information about Winterskin after watching it, and I found out it was made in the UK. That makes a LOT of sense because it was like someone made a movie about Americans who had no idea what Americans were like.

For example, all of the men, except Billy, had long hair and looked like Gandalf. Nobody living in the backwoods is walking around in fur coats and looking like they are all auditioning for the role of Hagrid from the Harry Potter series. Do the men in Billy’s town just suddenly turn into wizards after a certain age? At the end of the day, horror movie indie films are dime a dozen. You can find a few diamonds amongst the piles of sand. However, in this case, all you’ll be left with is confusion and more questions than there are answers for.

Good

  • Nice monster design
  • It didn't kill me to watch it

Bad

  • Terrible acting
  • Poor special effects
  • Predictable story
4.2

Poor

Story - 4
Characters - 3
Cinematography - 5
Soundtrack - 5
Horror - 4
A writer, video game enthusiast, Halloween nerd, and an author of stories.
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