Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Skin Crawl (2007)

Skin Crawl tells the tale of the Warbeck sisters, who 300 years ago were persecuted by corrupt town officials. When their younger sister is taken from them, raped repeatedly and killed, her sisters swear revenge on all those that would harm their family in the present and future. Fast forward to present day where married couple Margaret (Debbie Rochon) and Howard (Kevin G. Shinnick) are having some trouble with their relationship. Before Margaret heads to work, she tells Howard they need to “talk.” All the passion has gone out of their marriage and Margaret thinks Howard is having an affair. Margaret is right…as soon as she leaves Howard calls up Sadie (Julian Wells), whom he has been secretly seeing. Howard tells Sadie he thinks Margaret is going to divorce him, leaving him nothing of her vast wealth. Sadie comes up with the ingenious plan to have Margaret killed so Howard gets the money. Howard commits to the plan and has Margaret brutally murdered while he gets in a little hanky panky with Sadie. From there, we get to see how everything happened through different characters’ perspectives. First we follow Margaret on the fateful day of her death, then Howard, then Sadie and even the two hired guys that kill Margaret. After a few twists and turns the Warbeck curse takes effect to punish those who murdered Margaret, a descendent of the Warbeck witches!

I wasn’t expecting much from this Shock-O-Rama release. Low-budget tales about witches usually just turn out to be an excuse to showcase breasts bursting from corsets and a group of busty babes bent over a cauldron, which just isn’t my cup of tea. Luckily, Skin Crawl was nothing like this and was actually a great film! The story hardly focused on the witch-aspect at all, which I was grateful for. Instead, it really focused on the days leading up to and the day of Margaret’s murder. The film goes back in time and repeats scenes (mostly in fast forward so the audience isn’t bored) from a different character’s perspective. This way we get a new spin on each character and their motivations, desires and secrets. It is a great technique that gives each of the characters more depth and makes the events much more horrifying.

The acting in the film is wonderful as well. Debbie Rochon plays the defeated and sad wife who just wants to save her marriage with a lot of emotion and realism. She really pushes herself in the role of Margaret and gets out of her comfort zone. When Margaret is murdered, you really feel for her character which is always a sign of an excellent actor. Though Kevin G. Shinnick doesn’t necessarily look like someone who would be married to a beautiful woman like Margaret, his malicious intent becomes apparent as the film progresses. Julian Wells plays Sadie with evil glee and was a pleasure to watch on screen. Look for cameos by Misty Mundae and Ruby Larocca as well!

As writer and director, Justin Wingenfeld does a great job with his first feature project. He really has an eye for directing the action within a shot and the talent to write a story that holds it all together. Wingenfeld succeeds in creating a suspenseful, intriguing film that only gets better as it goes on. Even though budgetary constraints hampered some aspects of the film (the beginning comes to mind), Wingenfeld still manages to create an entirely enjoyable film!

Skin Crawl’s ending is something to be reckoned with as those who have hurt Margaret are punished by something that has risen from the grave. Loads of maggots and cockroaches follow in the wake of this dead thing. Sadie’s demise in particular is quite a sight to behold! We also get to see Rochon playing something she never has before! I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so you’ll just have to watch and find out for yourself! Kudos must go to Wingenfeld for crafting such an entertaining and gripping ending.

The extras on the disc include an enjoyable featurette called “Under Your Skin” which features interviews with Debbie Rochon, writer/director Justin Wingenfeld and more. It was great to hear Rochon and Wingenfeld talk about the experience of making this film! Also included are trailers for other Shock-O-Rama films and a commentary track featuring Wingenfeld and producer Michael Raso.

Skin Crawl is a highly enjoyable low-budget film that’s got betrayal, murder, revenge, double-cross and plenty of bloody bugs!! It comes highly recommended from yours truly.

Available on Amazon!

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