Recap #241: Skinwalkers (2006) by

13 October 2019

Skinwalkers coverTitle: Skinwalkers (2006)

Summary: A 12 year old boy and his mother become the targets of two warring werewolf packs, each with different intentions and motives. [Wing: Man, that is a boring summary, if truthful.] [bat: It’s pretty… lame.]

Tagline: For them to live, we must die. OR They hunt us. [Wing: The first one is better. Sort of. It’s still a lie, though. They don’t have to kill us, they simply choose to. Some of them, at least.]

Initial Thoughts

I’ve watched this before, but not for many years, and I’ve forgotten pretty much everything that happens during it. I don’t even remember all the characters, so this will almost be a brand-new experience for me.

[bat: I’ve never seen this. I vaguely remember it being released; I have a weird penchant for knowing all kinds of things about films but never actually seeing them. But I don’t know if it was because I think of “skinwalkers” as being something different in the supernatural sense from werewolves, if that was the reason I passed on it, or if it was because it just didn’t sound good. Oh well, watching it now!]

And of course, this is my favourite time of year. Roll on Snark at the Moon 2019 and welcome to the Hunters’ Moon!

Recap

I’m watching my old DVD copy, and I’d forgotten how long the whole anti-piracy warning screen lasts. Guess I’ve been streaming things too much lately. Don’t even remember what it’s like to watch DVDs, much less the VHS tapes I grew up on!

Oh my god, this even has trailers before the title screen! The Monster Squad (“for the first time ever on DVD”), Fido (oh, wow, I forgot about this movie! It’s a pretty fun zombie movie), THE DESCENT WHAT OH MY GOD HOW DID I NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS?! (Dove and I love this damn movie. We’ll recap it eventually, I promise), and Fangs (this looks amazingly cheesy and I want to watch it immediately — it appears to be about genetically modified killer bats). [bat: I remember Fangs! I don’t think I’ve seen it, or at least not in full, but BATS!!]

Okay, we’re finally getting into the movie. I’m trying to make this shorter than my recaps have been, but I make no promises.

Yee nadlooshi – Navajo for Skinwalkers; human beings who have gained supernatural powers through blood. Some call it a gift, others a curse.

This does not bode well. Someone might be able to tell a story based on Navajo beliefs (or any native beliefs) without it being racist and/or culturally appropriative, but I don’t know if this movie can do it. I’m guessing no. [bat: NOW I remember this film and why I skipped it.]

A war has been raging between those who want the curse to end and those who embrace the powers of the beast. According to Indian legend, a thirteen-year-old boy will bring an end to all Skinwalkers.

…yeah, this is not alleviating my doubts. Not to mention, why is the chosen one so often a boy? Obviously there’s nothing wrong with this movie, or any individual story, choosing to focus on a boy as the hero, but overall, chosen one stories, prophecies, etc., tend to be about boys and not girls. Let girls be heroes too.

(Red Moon Films, Inc.! I like it.)

We open with written and spoken narration, but finally get to a man running through the woods. There are already people dead, some on the ground, some hanging in trees. There is far too much shaky cam. Dude is clutching some paper and nearly gets speared through the hand with a throwing knife, so in his terror, he breaks one thing he’s carrying and tries to set the paper on fire. [bat: It appears to be a map book. Paper maps were things we used to use before smartphones existed.]

Oh god way too much shaky cam. I might need bat to tell me if I miss anything because I’ve had to look away. [bat: All I can say is guy went from setting maps on fire to holding a gun, with the camera focusing heavily on the fact he’s wearing a Native American bracelet. He’s aiming the gun at whatever is in the woods. But sees nothing, so he kind of backs up and that’s when some dude shows up and punches the first guy in the face. The screen goes black and I’m left wondering where the maps ended up. Also: that was a ridiculous amount of shaky cam for such a short scene.] When I look back, dude is hanging from a tree and surrounded by people in leather and worn denim, biker werewolves pretty clearly. One of them mocks his silver bullets. Apparently he’s the caretaker of something — he and his people have been defending some of the creatures for a long time. The paper he’s carrying is a map of all the camps where I guess the ones who consider it a curse are located. He’s hiding a boy from them, the boy, clearly, and she shoots him dead. 

[bat: Hm. Wouldn’t it have been smarter to memorize the locations of the camps instead of having a literal paper trail that bad guys can exploit? Just sayin’. Unrelated but this movie has that true mid-early-00 feel that one recognizes because one lived through those years. It’s hard to believe this is just a few years shy of 20 years ago. Also that bad guy’s eye is going to bug the crap out of me. I hate stuff involving eyes.] [Wing: You know, memorizing the locations instead of carrying around a convenient guide to them in a literal map form is a really damn good idea.]

We are four days from the full moon, and I broke down and looked up names, since we’re not actually getting any yet. Sonja is the one who’s giving orders to the biker werewolf gang, Varek is one of them who is not around but whom she sends off north to search for the boy, and I learn that Kim Coates from Sons of Anarchy is in this movie, thereby cementing my theory that Sons of Anarchy could very easily be about a pack of murderous biker werewolves. [bat: I would have likely watched SoA if that had been the case. That or vampires.]

This is all very dramatic, blood red sun in the sky and cawing crow (or other bird of prey?) crossing it a couple of times. Cheesy, too, but I kind of love it. (Wait, that might be a blood red moon, but I swear it was just daylight.)

(Depending on how you count it, I’m writing this recap four days from the full moon. OH NO WE’RE DOOMED.) [bat: I’m gonna sing the DOOM song!]

Skip over to a video of the chosen boy. [bat: Um, that kid doesn’t look 13. Maybe 8, at best?] Proof of life showing that he’s going to save them in four more days. Group of werewolves and at least one human (another caretaker?) watch the video, which references the blood red moon, and then the human locks them in the basement. Man, I love stories about werewolves who lock themselves away versus werewolves who don’t. [bat: I like that they’re hopeful and positive, instead of being doom and gloom.]

Oh, okay, bird is not a crow, but some sort of falcon, maybe? [bat: Looks like a hawk?]

More shaky cam to show the killer werewolves approaching.

Downstairs, the non-killer werewolves have really dramatic leather and chains and binding bodysuits and heavy metal gloves over their hands — they are really taking precautions and I love it.

Lights blow, human says it’s probably just a fuse and he’ll be right back because human lives in a horror world and apparently still doesn’t know the rules. Sure enough, killer werewolves have arrived and with a dramatic reveal (human knocks a cup off the table and when he bends over we see a killer werewolf behind him), werewolf makes his entrance, all leather and worn denim and floppy hair. 

It’s Varek, of course, and some of his pack (guys we saw earlier, and they really, really look like a murderous werewolf biker gang — actually, now that I think about it, I’m pretty sure they are), of course searching for the boy. The non-killer werewolves don’t know where the boy is, though, and this is part of their protection strategy, which is actually pretty smart.

[bat: Of course, Varek is “hot male bad guy with great hair”.] [Wing: Would we have it any other way?]

Dead human (one of the non-killer werewolves is married to him) and then Varek and Sonja argue over whether to believe them or not. After everyone is dead, they watch the video for themselves and for all the precautions they’ve taken to not show the boy’s face or his location, somehow the people protecting the boy missed the fact that the mirror in the shot reflects the back of a jacket that says Huguenot.

[bat: I know this was filmed in Canada, but why… what do French Protestants have to do with… this…? And yes I realize it’s a logo for a… sports ball team on but so far this film has used a lot of symbolism with the hope of the non-violent weres and Varek mentioning their faith in the boy, so it has to have some kind of symbolism. OH, IT’S A TOWN. Good thing I managed to catch that flash of the paper map there.]

Over to the kid who is having an asthma attack. Kid is Timothy, his frantic mother is Rachel, and a guy trying to help is Will, played by Tom Jackson who is a Cree actor. I honestly did not expect to see any native actors in this. [bat: Roman Podhora, the guy who played the human caretaker Ralph, I believe he’s descended from Indigenous Canadians. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot about him online.] [Wing: So they actually did cast at least some of the characters with native actors, which aligns with the story their telling. I don’t think the overall choice they’ve made to tell this story is working, but that casting is much better than I expected.]

Later, once Tim can breathe again, he has a bad dream about a man coming for him. Rachel comes in and shows him the awesome blood red moon, but Tim is having none of it, nor will he tell his mother about his dream. They’re pretty cute together, very cuddly.

Next morning an older woman turns up to check because Will didn’t show up somewhere. He reassures her that Tim and Rachel are both okay even though Tim had another attack the night before. I’m guessing that Will is their caretaker. Woman is not introduced. Then we get another white guy coming to check on Tim, who is named: Jonas. [bat: CASEY JONES IN THE HOUSE! Sorry.] [Wing: I didn’t even recognise him! I love TMNT and his version of Casey Jones. I found him unusually attractive back then, not so much now. “You’ve gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket.”]

Rachel tells him that it’s time for her and Tim to leave because it’s time for her to learn how to be a mother, she’s gotten too dependent on them and now she needs to stand on her own two feet. She’s relied on them so hard because her husband, Jonas’s brother, died 13 years ago. Jonas of course tries to talk her into staying, but she stands firm.

How very, very convenient that three days before the prophetic blood red moon she decides to leave the safety of this home. [bat: Another incident of PLOT SAYS SO.]

Yet another new character shows up, Doak, who is a really really attractive black man. He brings Tim a new DVD, Rachel leaves for work, older lady is Nana, and here’s yet another new character. I’m guessing she’s the Katherine referenced earlier, and she has muffins for them all.

Good god, this movie doesn’t believe in names or doling out the new characters, just throw them all at you at once and hope you keep up. Which can work in some storytelling. It’s not really working here, though.

Oh my god, yet another new person, Adam the white guy who is Katherine’s boyfriend. Good grief, too many people who are doing nothing. Katherine’s Jonas’s kid, by the way.

[bat: I have questions. This is a lot of Caucasian-appearing characters wandering about for a movie about a Native American supernatural curse that’s supposed to be ended by a child.] [Wing: Hard agree. Based on some stuff later, I think this may be intentional. Not necessarily good storytelling, but at least intentional and not accidental.]

Rachel drives Adam with her when she heads into town (which is Huguenot, of course), and it looks beautiful, a small town tucked into gorgeous trees and rolling hills. The trees are turning colour, and it’s all very New England autumn. [bat: More questions. Is this supposed to be set in the States or what? Because I’m pretty certain it’s all been very vague about the location from the start.]

OH MY GOD ANOTHER NEW WHITE GUY ASKING ABOUT TIM. He knows Tim had an asthma attack last night, which is weird, and also I didn’t catch his name [bat: Courtney.] and I’m not going looking this time. Rachel agrees with me that it’s weird he knew about it. (She and Adam work in a hardware store by the way.)

Oh look, murderous werewolf biker gang IS ACTUALLY A BIKER GANG DID I CALL THAT SHIT OR WHAT. [bat: I can say this part is literally made for Wing, it’s everything she loves.] [Wing: Tis true. I have hearts in my eyes.]

Also, they are all attractive in very different ways. I’m feeling this murderous werewolf biker gang. Much like with the Lost Boys, pretty sure I’m going to be rooting for the murderous supernatural biker gang.

Slow motion ride into town is dramatic and cheesy and I love it. 

I know I said that they are all attractive in different ways, but my god, Varek and Sonja are breathtakingly hot in some of these scenes. 

I like how things go so silent throughout this part but for the steady sounds of their boots on the brick walkway and the dramatic cocking of Sonja’s gun (not that she needs to be cocking it so often, damn).

Rachel calls home looking to see where everyone is because it’s getting late, but it was breakfast like thirty seconds ago. And Nana’s walking Tim to the store anyway, though she’s clearly on guard and even moreso when the bird of prey goes flying past them and she sees Jonas on the other side of the street.

[bat: Here’s the thing. When I think of skinwalkers, I don’t necessarily think werewolves. I think beings that take on various animal forms, including humans. And then we have Varek and his clear connection to the hawk/eagle/raptor, which reminds me muchly of the wargs from Game of Thrones. This is kind of confusing me. Also that was a hella bit of CGI work just for that bird.]

[Wing: Yeah, agreed RE skinwalkers. This is why I continue to call them werewolves, because they are goddamn werewolves. Skinwalkers are different and come from very different beliefs. But for the use of the name skinwalkers and the vague legends about Native Americans, this is much more a werewolf story from European werewolf tradition.]

I did not expect the first dramatic standoff to be between the grandmother and the murderous werewolf biker gang leader. And it is a standoff, very dramatic pacing each other as they cross and stare.

Varek says all they want is the boy and Nana pulls out a big handgun. [bat: NANA IS PACKING HEAT!] Varek shoots first, telling Tim to run, and there’s a shootout going on in the middle of this small town and no one but Rachel thinks it is weird.

This … is this a town of werewolves? Or werewolves and humans who want to help them? Because this is the BEST. [bat: Explains the complete lack of law enforcement and why no one questioned the bad guys wandering around with weapons and not wearing helmets. Oh, and that U.S. Mail truck just answered my question about location.] [Wing: Well, some states don’t require helmets to this day, so I found that believable, plus them choosing not to wear them in the first place is even more believable. The lack of anyone caring that bad guys are wandering around with giant guns does make more sense if the town is all theirs. Though what doesn’t make sense is that they thought a town of werewolves + caretakers was a great place to hide the prophecy kid. If I was a murderous werewolf biker, the first places I would look would be werewolf towns. Which surely can be found by sniffing them out, and also, it’s been 13 years and this murderous werewolf biker gang can’t be the only ones out there searching for Tim.]

Nana shoves a gun at Tim and tells him she’ll explain later, “but right now learn how to load a gun.” 

On the one hand, that skill would have been much more useful for him to learn before this moment. On the other hand, what a great fucking line and delivery. [bat: Okay, he was given a pretty serious knife which he was misusing a few scenes ago but they didn’t bother to weapons-train him. Let me guess, he has zero clue he is “special” and the “savior”. Sigh.]

Damn, Adam is loading up for bear (or, you know, wolf).

Sonja kills Adam’s dad, Adam starts to lose his temper, Rachel goes running after Tim who has been sent to the saddle shop, for some reason Varek dramatically strips off his coat and starts shooting while wearing a sleeveless shirt which is far hotter than it has any right to be, and this scene is chaotic as hell. I love it. [bat: Oh my god that was ridiculously hot.]

Rachel and Tim hide in the saddle shop, are almost caught by Zo (one of Varek’s pack, the one played by Kim Coates), there’s a dramatic bit of him leaning against the window and listening for them, and Jonas shows up to help get them to his garage.

Apparently everyone has a cease-fire to reload … that or the murderous werewolf biker gang has successfully murdered everyone else in town.

Oh, nope, a handful of them load up into an old commercial truck and basically run over Sonja as they leave the garage. Murderous werewolf biker gang shoots at them but doesn’t manage to stop them — then they stop to pick up Nana, people get shot, Nana sends the truck on its way as she blows up the gas station to distract the murderous werewolf biker gang.

Rachel is understandably freaked out that this sweet, kind family she’s lived with for at least 13 years has also secretly been a gun-toting gang of outlaws or something. And now one of them, Katherine maybe, is sobbing about Nana.

But here’s the thing. This is fun, and I’m having a good time with it, but everyone was introduced so quickly and then we’re tossed into this fight so fast that I don’t actually care about any of the characters. I can barely tell all the white dudes apart (well, except for Varek, who, again, smoking hot). We’ve not always gotten clear names for everyone, even.

If the story is going to turn on them needing to keep the boy safe until the full moon, they’re not doing a good job of making me care why. I at least need to care because of the boy himself and/or because of what the prophecy will mean for the world, but so far, there’s not been anything really showing that the two werewolf factions are all that different. Sure, murderous werewolf biker gang has been pretty murderous in their quest to get to the boy, but small town werewolf family has also been pretty murderous in their quest to protect the boy.

Also, very few people have actually managed to kill anyone in this life-or-death setup, so there’s that.

Jonas finally tells Rachel that people want to kill Tim because something will happen to him on the full moon. They kept the secret from her to keep Tim safe. For the greater good and all, which is an argument I absolutely hate, especially when it comes to hiding information from people for their own good.

[bat: I call bullshit. It’s lame and sloppy story-telling — “Oh we didn’t tell you for 13 years and also basically imprisoned you for your own good so we can use your child to end horror!” — that’s so opposite proactive mothers like, say, Sarah Connor. The father’s family could have told Rachael something without giving away everything but instead keeping her in the dark means they don’t trust her and are using her as a means to an end. Bleh.]

[Wing: Sarah Connor is a good comparison, because later, Rachel is set up as this protective mother who goes a little beast to save her son. Which sort of makes sense with the lies, but not entirely because she steps up in a way that would make more sense if she’d, oh, had 13 years to prepare for this goddamn battle.]

While Jonas is telling her this, Nana and Varek have another faceoff. Varek lowers his gun, promises her he will find the kid, and then tells her not to attack. She raises her gun and her teeth go all wolf, and then he finally shoots her. I have a feeling I now remember a certain twist coming up, but we’ll see.

Varek looks stricken when he shoots her dead. [bat: Well that just smells like a GIANT TWIST.]

Fade from Varek’s face to Jonas’s (…subtle) as Jonas finally brings up the word skinwalkers. I’m sticking with werewolves here, thanks. [bat: I have major qualms with werewolves and skinwalkers being used interchangeably. Y’all are weres, not skinwalkers.]

In the background, Katherine is putting everyone in their own leather and chains, so apparently a shift is coming. I assume because of the strength of the blood red moon, but the murderous werewolf biker gang doesn’t seem to need to shift.

Rachel doesn’t believe Jonas — I mean, who would, right? — and demands to be let out, so Doak the hot black mailman knocks her out with what I suspect is chloroform. Because that visual doesn’t play into the fear mongering of black men as a threat to white women at all.

(Again, the problem is not that this one movie made this one choice, it’s that choices like this are not made in a vacuum, and this choice is made in the middle of a society that often does treat black men as a violent threat no matter what they are doing.)

Oh, wait, now the murderous werewolf biker gang is starting to show signs of the rising not-yet-full moon, with fangs and eyes changing. This makes Varek and Sonja even hotter, dear god. Actually all of them, so, uh, cool. 

The truck drives on into the darkness and inside Rachel wakes up to find all the adults bound to the walls, except for Will who is driving and has Tim with him. Sure enough, Will is a caretaker and “his people” have been taking care of the werewolves for a long time. But why? If the “legend” we see in the first written monologue is that becoming a werewolf happens because of taking the blood and many of them truly embrace the nature that comes with it as a blessing, why would Will’s people — basically a native tribe from how it’s worded and cast — protecting them? Risking their lives? Letting themselves be killed rather than giving away the secret?

Will gives us more information about the prophecy, that it will kick in at midnight on the day of Tim’s thirteenth birthday, over visuals from both werewolf packs shifting. Both have some agony to it, but the murderous werewolf biker gang is ecstasy, too, stripping away human clothes (their humanity) in an orgy of pain and pleasure. Not so for those bound up inside the truck.

[bat: SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. How did Rachel go THIRTEEN YEARS without stumbling onto something, anything that was used to chain these weres up with?? Not remotely suspicious at all? Like, wtf? I’m sorry, but that’s just bad writing.]

Once they feed, they become the beast forever. But, uh, if they have already fed, how in the world can they be returned to not werewolves? [bat: Kill the head werewolf?? *snort*] [Wing: Haaaaaa.]

First skinwalkers were Native American, but then the wolf mutated and many people couldn’t control the lust for power. Just come out and say it, Will, when the white man showed up to colonise the land, his greed twisted it.

Apparently no one knows exactly what Tim will do to save the world. [bat: This. This is why I do not remotely care about Tim or his family. There has been no heart given to viewers to care about.]

Tim joins Rachel in the back and they watch as their family shift into wolves. Tim goes closer to them despite Rachel trying to stop him, but he trusts it so much, even in his terror, that she lets him go.

This is some bad werewolf make-up and making them jerk and twitch so that we can’t see it as well doesn’t help.

Tim touches one of them — I assume Jonas — and calms him down some just through that touch. Gives him back his humanity for at least a moment before he becomes the monster again. [bat: This act very much reminds me of Gail Carriger’s Soulless series. Which is much better and far more entertaining then this, just my opinion of course.] [Wing: I think I’ve read the first book but none of the others. I should go back and give it another try.]

Honky tonk bar, gee, I wonder if a murderous werewolf biker gang is about to burst in here and stop this pending rape. Oh, no bursting in required, a werewolf, I think Sonja, maybe, though there’s not yet any sign of the others, has been sitting at the bar and does not react well to the men taunting her, too.

Oh definitely Sonja because there’s Varek. They make short work of the three men, though they throw them around for a long time without eating them for werewolves who are supposed to be impossibly drawn to the taste of human blood. [bat: This werewolf makeup is laughably awful. I expect better from Stan Winston.]

The waitress they saved from the rapists doesn’t escape.

After feeding, Varek and Sonja become mostly human again to fuck. There are some shots quite reminiscent of that sex scene in The Howling, and also, because I haven’t said it lately, dear god, they are hot.

The next morning, Will stops the truck to check on the bound werewolves and Rachel who sat back there with them all night. He asks her to forgive them all and as he releases the werewolves, he says he’ll take them to the stronghold.

If there’s a fucking stronghold, why haven’t they been there all this time!

Murderous werewolf biker gang of sometimes strange hotness cleans the blood from their bare skin and get dressed again. Still hot. [bat: Okay, they care about being clean but they wander around half naked and loaded down with weapons, which would draw all kinds of attention as is? Sigh.] [Wing: How dare you suggest they cover up. bat. bat. bat. Why would you suggest that? Why?]

(Sonja has braids running through the underside of her hair, which seems like a nod to some native hairstyles, perhaps.)

Zo creeps on her a bit, she shoots him down, he makes a weird wolf howl through a pursed mouth which doesn’t even make fucking sense, and also I could do without the sexual threat in my werewolf movies, thanks. [bat: What the fuck even was that noise?? Also, everyone has these massive square jaws for some reason…]

I like that Sonja has her own bike.

Varek says they will follow the leader and then Grenier sends his bird of prey (some sort of hawk? I need a birder up in here!) off to find the boy. So basically the bird is their leader, and I like it. [bat: You know what would have been a fucking amazing plot twist? The hawk turns into a human near the end of the film and is all HI I AM THE REAL SKINWALKER. This likely won’t happen but here I am, yet again, rewriting a movie to make it better.] [Wing: Oh, damn, that would be a great twist. Especially with the added y’all are fucking WEREWOLVES damn it.]

Either the stronghold is in the middle of some beautiful woods surrounding a lake (which I’m here for) or they’ve stopped long enough for Jonas and Rachel to have it out over the secrets he’s kept and the life he lives. He’s not the same man to her, she says, which is a pretty low blow, but not unfair because, again, EVERYONE AROUND HER LIED TO HER FOR MORE THAN A FUCKING DECADE. Including the husband she’s been mourning all these years who never told her that (a) he and his family were werewolves and (b) their son has werewolf blood. Unimportant information, clearly.

Rachel is furious that the beasts killed her husband and now they’re after her son. Tim’s special, Jonas tells her, his nightmares and his asthma, etc., happen because his body is at war with itself. Well, that’s one explanation I guess. [bat: I kind of figured that was the reason for the asthma but c’mon, that could have been done so much more in depth to make me care.]

Rachel is determined to keep her son safe, and I am enjoying how she’s stepping up into badass protection mode.

And then Tim has a vision of someone breaking into a nursery. Flashing back to what happened when he was a baby, I guess. He wakes up in a hospital, which seems like a terrible place to be if you’re trying to stay hidden.

The werewolves are not doing well, though it seems they’re more worried about Tim than about what might happen. Adam in particular is freaking out because he’s tired of looking over his shoulder.

Super cute nurse comes in to check on Tim, Tim flirts with her in that awkward preteen boy kind of way, her curly blonde hair is great, I’m guessing she’s a werewolf. (Look, the hottest people in this movie have so far all been werewolves. I’m just going by the odds here.)

He even jokes with her about him being a werewolf when she says he has a rare blood type and his white blood cell count is off the charts. Subtle, kid.

Out in the hall, Adam and Katherine are focused more on getting to become not werewolves than they are on KEEPING WATCH JESUS CHRIST YOU TWO and they are startled apart by an orderly coming through a door behind them.

Jonas sends Katherine to the back entrance and Adam to the roof to keep watch. Doak goes off to find someone who can release Tim from the hospital; Tim is adamant that they need to leave immediately.

Jonas sees the nurse following a patient who just came in, head bandaged, after a car accident, and something catches his attention.

Adam does not go to the roof but to a fire escape. Do you not follow orders, my dude? Katherine is in a hallway that doesn’t seem to be too far from where she was before, but okay. 

Sure enough, body from the car accident is Sonja, because of course it is.

Outside, both Jonas and Adam clock the bird of prey.

OH, it’s an RV not an old fashioned truck with an attached trailer. Makes sense, I guess.

Cute blonde nurse is D E A D, so I was wrong about that. Sonja steals her uniform and locks herself inside Tim’s room, cold-cocking Rachel when she tries to question her. Instead of, like, ripping Tim’s throat out or SHOOTING HIM, Sonja tries to strangle him. WTF WOMAN YOU WERE SHOOTING EVERYTHING LIKE THIRTY SECONDS AGO. [bat: I hate when this happens. When a character clearly does one thing but when it counts they stop doing THE THING and bleh… bleh bleh bleh!]

Before Sonja finally gets out a knife, she hesitates long enough for Doak to come to the rescue.

Jonas flat out shoots Grenier in the hallway, starting a shootout in the hospital, Adam runs down to leap onto the RV, Jonas clears room for Doak to carry Tim out of the hospital, but Doak takes so many bullets he dies on the stairs. Adam takes out Grenier with a shot to the head and as they’re all trying to get into the RV, Varek rocks up with Katherine as his hostage (and blood near her mouth — I think we’re supposed to believe it’s a wound, but I’m betting he gave her human blood) and tells Jonas they should stop all this. Brother.

I knew it! I don’t know why I didn’t remember this twist before I started watching the movie again, because I wasn’t surprised the first time I watched it, but maybe I just saw it coming the way I did this time. No wonder Varek hesitated with Nana. No wonder the movie’s been very careful to keep Rachel and Varek from coming face to face. [bat: I figured that out when Varek said that to Nana, like, it was so obvious he was talking to his mother.]

Oooh, dramatic, Rachel steps out of the RV, shocked as fuck because Caleb is alive. You know, Varek!Caleb.

None of the murderous werewolf biker gang seem to know about Varek’s big secret, either. Hell, I’m not even sure that Varek knows that the boy he’s chasing is his own son based on the surprise when he sees Rachel and then Tim. I’d like some clarification on that, but I doubt we’ll get it, not the way this movie is paced. [bat: BUT OF COURSE the super fucking hot bad guy is the chosen child’s father. They never really talked about how Caleb “died”; so clearly he was never “confirmed dead”. I wanna say this is sloppy but for this particular film, it’s the only giant twist it could take.]

He begs Jonas to join him because they are one and the same; Jonas says they’re nothing alike, but Varek argues he’s living a lie, he’s wrong about not embracing what he’s become. Jonas believes they are human, Varek believes they are not and that humans are diseased and flawed. Werewolves are better than that.

Oh, good, some eugenics now.

Oh, damn, yeah, Varek didn’t know! Goddamn. Did not expect that.

Sirens in the distance, Zo starts another shootout, they escape, Tim freaks out because they all lied to him that his dad was dead, except kid, I’m pretty sure Rachel was lied to as well, though his lashing out even at her makes sense. [bat: I can actually scream LIES LIES LIES and it’s all true, because this story is made of LIES!]

Some time later, in a very clean RV equipped with a ton of firepower, Jonas tries to talk to Tim, but he shuts Jonas out. Jonas tells Rachel that he thought Caleb was dead, and Rachel points out that he was wrong and now he’s trying to kill his own son.

I’m not sure I believe that Jonas thought Caleb was dead. Nor do I understand why Caleb left his family to become Varek. [bat: So fucking sloppy. Ugh.]

Sonja is not at all pleased that Rachel was Varek’s wife. Varek calls it another life, but why? WHY was it another life? Did you even know she was pregnant before you left? How did you not know, if you didn’t? Why did you leave if you did? If you knew a boy would be born who would destroy the things you love, why didn’t you at least wait and see if the kid Rachel carried was that boy? How did you end up with a human in the first place when the prophecy is that the boy will be born of wolf and human?

I HAVE SO MANY QUESTIONS. [bat: You’re not the only one.]

Murderous werewolf biker gang doesn’t believe that Varek will kill the kid now that he knows, but he snaps at them for questioning his resolve. The boy has no father and he has no son.

…is the stronghold a fucking cave?! Because they’re headed into a fucking cave and that is not a goddamn stronghold at the best of times especially when they’re being hunted by fucking werewolves! Oh god, it is the stronghold.

Varek creeps on Katherine WHO IS HIS NIECE. He cuts her free just in time for her to shift. The rest of the murderous werewolf biker gang seem pretty curious about how it’s going to go for her.

Adam wants to go back for Katherine. Jonas tries to talk him out of it, and then it is time for them to lock down. Will takes Adam in first. So, wait, now you’re telling me that you’re going to leave the vulnerable human and the all-important boy IN A CAVE IN THE OPEN WITH HUMAN-EATING WEREWOLVES HUNTING THEM?

Oh, no, they just left the fire burning, Rachel and Tim are inside the RV.

(Aww, Monster Dog perks up when the werewolves start howling.)

So that’s three of the four nights, right? [bat: This feels like an episode of My Little Pony: WHAT IS TIME]

The next morning, Adam is gone. Not a surprise, though I am curious as to how he got out of his bindings without anyone else noticing.

Also how he knows where to go, because if he can backtrack and find them so easily, shouldn’t they have been able to find the boy just as easily?

He finds Katherine crucified against the rocks, still alive. Gee, I wonder if this is a trap.

Jonas wants them to leave the “stronghold” because it’s no longer safe. IT WASN’T SAFE IN THE FIRST GODDAMN PLACE. Rachel demands to know how Caleb became one of them. Jonas explains that during the attack (what attack? by whom? by murderous werewolves trying to kill the boy? if he was known already, why the fuck hasn’t Varek known this entire time?) they thought Caleb was dead, but they were wrong and apparently he’s hunted since then because now he’s a murderous werewolf.

Rachel now believes that they can save Caleb, because Rachel is an idiot. She’s also furious, especially when Jonas tells her again that he lied to her to protect her. She snaps that she isn’t like them, she doesn’t have the beast inside her. He tells her to find it or her son will die. Well that’s interesting. [bat: Well now, that certainly sounds ominous…]

Before they can leave, Adam brings Katherine back to camp. Jonas hits Adam because he led the others to them by going, then is very gentle when he checks out Katherine. 

They all take off in the RV, Tim and Rachel up front and the others in the back checking out Katherine. She talks about how she couldn’t believe it was Caleb, he looked so different, how he wouldn’t allow the murderous werewolf biker gang to kill her. She sounds far too fond of him for someone who was just crucified.

(TRAP TRAP IT’S A TRAP.)

(God, the setting of this movie is so fucking gorgeous, all narrow backroads and the leaves gone to autumn.)

…wait. Is it already night again? It was breakfast two fucking minutes ago! Will tells Adam and Jonas to get locked down while he finishes with Katherine who keeps jerking in pain. Will helps her over to the wall of bindings and won’t let Adam touch her. She also won’t let Will lock her down. Just as Jonas figures out that Varek made her feed, she says he gave her life and she snaps Will’s neck.

She turns on Adam, trying to lure him into feeding too, how amazing it feels to be the murderous werewolf, how they can feel it together. She wasn’t desexualized earlier, it was clear they had a sexual relationship, now that she is “gone evil,” she is a sexual threat.

This is something I keep noticing in werewolf stories. Male werewolves can be pathetic creatures or they can be monsters, but they are rarely a sexual threat. Female werewolves are almost always sexual threats, especially when they’re the bad guys. Even Ginger turning sexualized in Ginger Snaps shows this (intentionally); look at Veruca versus Oz in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or Marsha in The Howling. (Though Eddie is sexual violence as a threat, he doesn’t ooze sexuality the way Marsha, Veruca, Ginger, Sonja, and now Katherine do. Same with Zo with his sexualized violence.)

Sexual, sensual women are a threat to the men around them, to the world. They are hungry, and they are monstrous, and they are evil.

At least, that’s what a lot of these stories want us to think.

Thanks for coming to my TED talk.

Adam begs Katherine not to make him shoot her. She swings back and forth between sexual threat and same old girl. He shoots at her but doesn’t kill her. She lashes out in anger and then goes sweet again. Jonas struggles to get to a gun himself because clearly Adam’s not going to get this shit done.

To be fair to Adam, they’re only like one night away from all the werewolves going away, so if he can keep her still long enough, she’ll be safe. [bat: Allegedly. I still have questions.] But she turns his gun on him and kills him, so that plan clearly goes to shit.

She freaks out after over what she’s done. Jonas begs her for the gun, she tells him he was wrong, and then she calls for Timothy to open the door and help her. Jonas shouts for him not to, Tim keeps getting up to do it and Rachel keeps making him sit down again.

Despite Rachel and Jonas both yelling at him, Tim opens the door. He is holding a shotgun and when Katherine lunges at him, she gets shot. Not by Tim, though; Jonas tears himself free enough to shoot her himself.

Rachel is freaking out when we get our next jumpscare, the bird flying into the windshield hard enough to kill itself, causing Rachel to lose control and flip the RV. Well, I guess Grenier is dead, the bird can be too.

Jonas takes Rachel and Tim to an old mill to wait for midnight, which is just one more hour. He says they’re safe because there’s a steel door that locks on the inside. UMM. Why hasn’t he turned if the blood red moon is supposed to be so all-powerful, more powerful each night, and they’ve not been able to resist it the other nights? The rules here are being broken willy nilly to suit the story, and I don’t like it.

The plan is for Jonas to fight outside the building, leaving Rachel and Tim locked inside. The way he says good-bye to them, I’m pretty sure he’s in love with Rachel and has been treating Tim like his son. [bat: Didn’t really confirm his brother’s death, fell in love with brother’s not-really-widow, yep, that’s a trope.]

Rachel and Tim lock themselves inside a wire cage flanked by big fires, because that seems like it will keep werewolves out. Sure.

Oh, wait, I definitely thought Jonas was talking about locking the big steel door into the fucking building, but NOPE, all she has is that goddamn cage. That is not what you said earlier, Jonas.

More terrible werewolf makeup, though I love the golden eyes. The three remaining murderous werewolf biker gang members hunt through the giant mill, Jonas waits for his prey and takes on Zo first up on a higher level. My god, there are at least half a dozen bonfires around this place. Anyway, Jonas leads Zo on a wild goose chase, catching him in a rope trap and then clawing him up before cutting the rope and sending him falling several floors, apparently to his death, though I thought he was more resilient than that.

Tim knocks over some cans which draws Sonja to them, but I zero percent believe they can’t fucking smell a human and this special-blooded boy. [bat: Yeah, I thought the same thing when Tim and Rachael were in the saddle shop, how did Zo not smell them??]

Jonas and Varek face off with a quick shot of their human faces in case we don’t know the brothers are fighting. Varek gets the upper hand quickly, but Jonas puts up a good fight.

Meanwhile, back at the cage, Sonja is hunting them from above and comes straight down into the cage. I TOLD YOU IT WOULDN’T KEEP OUT A WEREWOLF. She knocks part of the cage onto Rachel and instead of going for the boy, who is right the fuck there, she keeps fighting with Rachel. Jealousy getting in the way much?

Tim shoots at her, misses, but then Rachel puts all the bullets into her, badass in the firelight. She then takes Tim running because the cage has been breached (shocking, I know, it was so sturdy). Varek faces off with them next (so many dramatic face-offs) and Rachel begs him not to hurt their son. Varek softens some, watching them, but then lunges. Rachel takes the blow and Varek rises above Tim, snarling and horrific.

Jonas attacks again, taking the fight up the stairs, and Tim runs to Rachel who has been clawed across the face and throat.

Tim runs upstairs to try to save Jonas, because of course he does. And you know, the way time is going, shouldn’t it be midnight now? Tim begs Jonas not to bite into Varek, but he does, tasting blood, then comes for the kid.

ISN’T IT MIDNIGHT YET?!

Rachel shoots Jonas, protecting her son, and so much for any of these werewolves who have worked so hard to keep Tim alive ever getting their cure, their happy ending. [bat: Bleh.]

Varek rises again, Rachel’s out of bullets, and Tim threatens Varek with the knife Rachel gave him, his father’s knife. Somewhere, bells ring, marking midnight (why there’s a clock like that here, I don’t know). [bat: WTF??] Tim drops the knife and Varek bites him. The moon goes white again, and Varek draws back, drooling blood. Rachel knocks him over the edge using the butt of her gun, and when they see his body, he’s become human again.

Tim goes down, calls him dad, holds him, and apparently Varek is the one fucking werewolf who gets to survive this movie, even if he’s not a werewolf anymore. (Still hot as fucking hell, though.)

Skip forward to Rachel, Varek, and Tim getting a room in a motel. Someone dressed as a grim reaper comes up behind them, Rachel draws a gun on them, but it’s just Halloween and she’s jumpy, Varek explains.

Tim takes us out with narration, that he’s not going to let people die in vain. He has the power to end the curse, it’s in his blood, and it’s not going to be as easy as they hoped. Rachel draws the blood, Varek puts it in bullets, and apparently they’re going around and shooting werewolves who don’t want the cure.

The motel clerk is apparently a werewolf, though, and he comes in to be cured, because Tim is his salvation. Others, though, he’s their destruction and they are still out to kill him. [bat: But…. but wait. Tim was supposed to end horror. This does not end horror if he is still being hunted and has to go around forcefully changing werewolves human! WTAF! LIES!!] [Wing: RIGHT? This ending leaves a lot to be desired.]

Final Thoughts

This is cheesy and ridiculous and breaks its own rules and the werewolf special effects are terrible and I don’t think it handled the skinwalker belief twisting well at all — why not just go with fucking werewolves in the first goddamn place? — but it’s also fun as fuck, and I really enjoyed it.

Also: murderous werewolf biker gang, hotter than hot all the way to the end.

[bat: Y’know, it would have just been easier to go with the “hey we’re werewolves, boy child’s mixed blood will save us!” then going with the skinwalkers stuff and misusing/abusing the Native American lore, but that’s Hollywood for you. Clearly, since the project was belayed and no screenings were held for critics, the makers knew they had a flop on their hands. But, like a lot of horror films, this has lived on through home viewing. Wing’s right; it’s cheesy AF and the giant twists are in your face apparent (or maybe that’s me, it’s very hard for a plot twist to get past me these days) and if you ignore how terrible the werewolf makeup is, it’s semi-enjoyable. I do enjoy me some Elias Koteas.]

I am the evil twin. I'm in a feud with R.L. Stine, who is terribly prolific. Every story needs more werewolves.

Categories: Snark at the Moon! recaps
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