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Review: Charlie Steeds’ Winterskin

Charlie Steeds returns with a new horror film, Winterskin, releasing on digital outlets May 21st 2019 courtesy of High Octane Pictures. Winterskin is creepy and bizarre. It’s action-packed and gory. It’s also a tremendously missed opportunity, but I’ll get to that point more later. Written, directed, produced and edited by Charlie Steeds, Winterskin tells the story of Billy Cavanagh, a wounded man who seeks shelter in a cabin ravaged by snowfall. He’s taken in by a friendly but kooky old lady named Agnes, and safety seems to be on the horizon…until bloodthirsty, skinless creatures attack the cabin. Now, Billy and Agnes are forced to fight the evil beings, the elements, and the notion that everything still isn’t as it seems. Featuring cinematography by Michael Lloyd and special effects by Kate Griffiths, Winterskin stars David Lenik, Rowena Bentley, Barrington De La Roche, Peter Cosgrove, John Lomas, Kate Davies Speak and Dylan Curtis. A Dark Temple Motion Picture, Winterskin is a winter-wonderland massacre that missed the mark in a few areas.

I get the distinct feeling that Winterskin was shot to mirror the picture quality of the 1980’s. The way it was fuzzy or out of focus looks like something you’d find on the VHS shelves at your local video store. The backing scores further my opinion, too. This is all well and good, only that you need more than passable picture quality to be considered retro styled or a decent throwback. You need atmosphere and mood, and while Winterskin sets its own pace and vibe, I wouldn’t consider it one from the golden age of horror. So, when you have a movie where you say “I want it to be this” and then it doesn’t turn out that way, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth as a viewer. Luckily, Winterskin isn’t being advertised as a throwback, so it should skip this criticism my everyone else but me, probably. Also to its hindrance, Winterskin sees a lot of choppy editing that I hated. You miss a lot of the action, which is perhaps what would draw people to this title most, and it comes off sloppy. When you throw in some underwhelming acting performances, there’s not a lot to champion here. BUT!

Winterskin had a lot of potential. It only died during the decision making process during principal photography and during the editing process. While I’ve criticized a lot of the movie so far, I do want to point out there were a few things that I loved. Rowena Bentley is wonderful as Agnes, and other cast members pull in great performances at times. And although I hated the fuzzy quality of the film, I do have to say there were a few stunning visuals mixed in with the massacre. There’s a lot of give and take here, but it’s important for me to say that Winterskin isn’t a complete mess. It’s equal parts a horror film and a violent thriller, and the two were paired together nicely. It bounces between genres fluidly and manages to stand as one of the more unique titles on the High Octane Pictures catalog. Winterskin is canvas of blood splatters and a non-stop action assault. It’s just that it’s not polished enough and, in my opinion, never came to fruition for what it was supposed to be.

Decent film, nothing great. Lots of gore, though, and practical effects monsters. Final Score: 6 out of 10.

Written by Michael Therkelsen

(Senior Editor)