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Skin Crawl

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    Ian Jane
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  • Skin Crawl

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    Released by: Pop Cinema/Shock-O-Rama

    Released on: 4/10/2007
    Director: Justin Wingenfeld
    Cast: Debbie Rochan, Julian Wells, Kevin G. Shinnick, Misty Mundae
    Year: 2007
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Skin Crawl starts off in colonial times when three lovely young ladies are found guilty of witchcraft by a group of local politicos who more or less blackmail them into periodically heading out into the woods for sex. When one of these men of high moral standing winds up killing one of the three women, the other two promise revenge and cast a spell that will bring harm to anyone who harms their kin again.

    Three centuries later, we meet Margaret and Howard, a young married couple going through a rough patch. Their holy union is slowly but surely dying and she's having some self esteem issues because of it. Until now, she's lead the good life and not had to worry about money or popularity so being forced to deal with a pending divorce is quite a big deal for the poor girl. Regardless, life goes on no matter what may creep up in one's personal life so when she's required to travel for business she obliges. On the way to her destination, a pair of carjackers scoops her up and abducts her, ultimately leaving nothing left of Margaret but a corpse.

    There's more to this than a simple random murder, however. It looks like Howard might have had a hand in organizing this, so that he could inherit everything from his wife and run off with the sleazy lady he's been nailing on the side. What Howard didn't bargain on, however, was just how far back his wife's roots extend - say, three hundred years or so.

    Writer/director Justin Wingenfeld uses a few flashbacks to build up the story and he presents us with a few unsettling scenes of violence and more than enough skin to keep the exploitation crowd happy. Unfortunately, the casting is odd in spots and while Rochan is quite good here, Julian Wells is not. In fact, her performance is downright painful, which is a shame as she's been good in other movies in the past. Add that to the fact that the story jumps around a bit too much for its own good and you've got a film with a bunch of interesting ideas and cool set pieces hampered by some misdirection and awkward performances and these faults are noticeable enough that it does hurt what could have been a decent independent horror film. Granted, from a linear storytelling perspective the film jumps around for a reason, but by the time we get to that reason it's just not as important and the pay off is just barely worth it. There are definite moments where this story shines and where Wingenfeld's direction is rock solid and others where we're left wondering what the point was.

    Video/Audio/Extras:

    The video is fairly soft in some scenes but aside from that it doesn't look too bad. Color reproduction is good, skin tones (of which there are a lot!) are lifelike and not too pink and there aren't any issues with compression artifacts or edge enhancement. Fine detail isn't super hot but that's likely an issue with the source, rather than the transfer itself.

    The audio is all over the place with this film. There are some scenes where the dialogue is crystal clear and then from there you'll head straight into a scene where the performers are buried in the mix and you can't hear them over the score or the effects. The resulting mix is pretty uneven. The good scenes sound just fine, but a little more care with the levels for the other scenes sure would have helped a fair bit.

    Director Justin Wingenfeld and producer Michael Rasso provide an interesting commentary that features some fun stories about the making of the film. They cover the casting choices, why they feel Rochon and Wells were good for their respective parts, and some of the locations and effects pieces. It's a jovial talk that covers most of the ground you'd want it to without getting too heavy. These guys know what kind of movie they've made and what audience its going after and it shows but they're taking things seriously enough that this actually proves to be a semi-educational affair.

    Aside from that, we're treated to a reasonably interesting featurette that covers the making of the film by way of some interviews with Rochon and Wingenfeld as well as some interesting behind the scenes clips.

    The final Word:

    Skin Crawl is about as uneven as a movie can get. That being said, the good and the bad come in fairly equal parts and so there's enough here that works that fans of low budget indy cinema might want to give it a fair day in court. Rochon is quite good in the movie and it plays around with a few interesting ideas that provide a few interesting moments.
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