FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Andrei Tarkovsky |||
Andrei Tarkovsky

Tarkovsky's contemplative, metaphysical films, more experienced than watched, are perhaps best described in the director's own words: sculptures in time.

In the post-apocalypse, a writer and scientist hire a "stalker" to guide them into The Zone, a mysterious and restricted wasteland with fabled, alien properties. Their journey, captured by Tarkovsky as a succession of incredible images, has, since, been read as political commentary, religious allegory, and Chernobyl prophesized.

Tarkovsky's visionary biography of the 15th-century icon painter is one of cinema's most majestic and solemn experiences. In some way, it will change you.

An adaptation of Stanis?aw Lem's novel of the same name, Tarkovsky's genre-less sci-fi film, which is set mostly aboard a space station hovering off a strange planet, tangles with issues of identity, death and reality in a way that will leave you agape, in the full meaning.

Recommended by PaczeMoj

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Skinwalkers

By BrianOrndorf

August 10th, 2007

Uh-oh, the Baby Huey of the horror genre, After Dark Films, is back, and this time they're ruining multiplexes with a werewolf movie. But not just any werewolf movie: a hastily-edited-to-a-PG-13 werewolf movie, with acting so dreadful it makes "Troll 2" look like a Mercury Theater production.

Skinwalkers

It seems an ancient curse that keeps werewolves alive is about to be shattered by a special 13-year-old boy’s prophecy-fulfilling birthday. Playing for the evil werewolves is Varek (Jason Behr), who leads his team of killers to the boy’s hometown for a hunt. On the flip side are the peace-loving werewolves, led by Jonas (Elias Koteas), who want the boy to live so their curse is broken. Counting down the hours until the prophecy takes hold, a war is waged between good and evil for the boy’s life, leaving his innocent mother (Rhona Mitra) in a state of shock.

What works in favor of “Skinwalkers” is that it isn’t a horror movie, but more of a monster picture. It doesn’t follow any currents trends in scare tactics, which is admittedly a nice change of pace. However, that’s where my praise of the film ends. After all, you cut out the werewolves, and what you’re left with is one idiotic movie.

Most of the blame can be pinned on director James Isaac, the man who previously gave the word the rotten, franchise-killing “Jason X.” Isaac doesn’t show all that much interest in werewolf lore, electing to lead the film into more action-oriented terrain, where more time is spent with bullets than horrific bodily transformations. Isaac is disturbingly comfortable with a majority of the asinine elements of “Skinwalkers,” from the generic (and unbelievably tedious) prophecy material to the costumes of Varek’s crew, who look more like roadies for the Allman Brothers Band than agents of part-dog doom.

Isaac also lacks a single clue how to instruct his actors, leaving them to their own devices for much of the film. With vacant pretty people like Behr and Mitra, this leads to great swells of silly soap opera reactions and fumbled emotional cues. Granted, “Skinwalkers” isn’t top-shelf screenwriting to begin with, but basic talent goes a long way to making mediocrity sparkle. Casting Jason Behr is not a step in the right direction.

The PG-13 curse strikes “Skinwalkers” in a very big way. With black blood replacement and profanity squeegeed off the film, this werewolf saga is sorely lacking any zest. The editing also wreaks havoc with the action sequences, with cuts and angles all over the place trying to cover up whatever made this film an R-rated venture in the first place. Also gone is the curious sensual element of the werewolf transformation. Apparently, when the werewolves blossom they burst into lustful stances, but in a PG-13 world, these scenes of sweaty, writhing bodies look more like a Spike TV cologne commercial.

One would think the combo of werewolves, Stan Winston’s make-up effects, and...well...werewolves would be more than enough to slap together a howlingly good time at the movies. However, put those elements in the hands of After Dark and it’s no surprise “Skinwalkers” is a stinker.

My rating: D