October 30, 2013
John Gries as Hoyt
Devin McGinn as Cameron
Kyle Davis as Ray Reed
Erin Cahill as Lisa
Ever catch a flick that left you completely on the fence? We’re talking about the kind of flick that has a lot of good things going for it, but suffers from some major stereotypical errors; in the case of Skinwalker Ranch a few too many clichés? How about a flick that exhibits some courage, but can’t seem to showcase that courage…
Ever catch a flick that left you completely on the fence? We’re talking about the kind of flick that has a lot of good things going for it, but suffers from some major stereotypical errors; in the case of Skinwalker Ranch a few too many clichés? How about a flick that exhibits some courage, but can’t seem to showcase that courage given tight restrictions? Skinwalker Ranch really makes an attempt to deliver a unique tale to fans, but it runs into a few too many walls. Preposterous ideas almost work, the cast almost works; the twists are somewhat compelling. Yet somehow the movie just doesn’t impress as one might hope. There are misfires in the technical process, and fumbles in the script movement. Is the picture miserable? Upon a second viewing, I’ll openly say no, it’s not miserable (covered some truly terrible movies as of late, like Killer Holiday, Muirhouse and Bloody Homecoming to name a few). However, it’s light-years from a top notch effort.
The story sees mysterious happenings on a deeply rural ranch tear more than a single life apart. A man’s son goes missing. Strange occurrences follow, and a team of investigators subsequently make their way to the property. They’ve got a full recording rig to set up, and a capable crew that should find – if there’s anything to truly find – any mysterious or paranormal happenings on the property. It isn’t long before unique phenomenon startles the crew and triggers a battle of life and death. There are indeed strange happenings taking place here, but when the group begins to uncover the truth of the matter, it’s a bit too shocking to truly process.
From a viewer’s stance, it’s a bit too much to truly process. There a number of ideas at work here, including teleportation, alien spacecraft, monstrous creatures and strange alien-like figures. But none of it comes together as a cohesive story. There is even what could only be labeled a residual haunting that wriggles into the storyline… it’s all just… nuts. There was an obvious attempt to deliver a very complex film that has more to chew on than your typical found footage film. But the story isn’t coherent, at all, and that of course ensures that there’s no way to jump behind this film 100%. The promise is there, it just didn’t develop into an amazing product. It grew into a hazy wreck that’s more often than not indecipherable.
Catching John Gries in an emotionally taxing performance is enjoyable, and he convinces as a father whose son has gone missing. Erin Cahill is not only physically appealing, she turns in sound work as one of the pic’s only female roles, Lisa. The underrated Kyle Davis surfaces as a competent hard-ass but the true surprise of the feature is the showing turned in by the relatively green and first-time director, Devin McGinn. McGinn, should he continue to pursue a career as a thespian has a bright future. This guy’s ceiling isn’t easily detectable and in a film that is – at times – almost detestable, he’s a beacon of promising light. Wherever the future leads this dude, I’ll follow to witness the evolution.
Had I tuned into Skinwalker Ranch in the midst of a powerful viewing lineup, the movie would have likely drawn thrice the ire and virtually no praise. But there have been some embarrassingly stomach turning pics making their way into my lineup as of late, and they admittedly make this one look marginally stronger than it (may) truly (be) is. As for where the production stands in direct comparison to other found footage films, well… that’s difficult to accurately judge. It’s infinitely inferior to films like [REC], Troll Hunter, The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield and Apollo 18(erase preconceived notions instilled by detractors, and don’t for a single second believe it’s only about “moon rocks”), but it’s stronger than features like Area 407, Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes, The Devil Inside and Paranormal Activity 4. Therefore, it’s probably safe to say this one resides somewhere in the middle of the pack. You aren’t likely to love it, but you probably won’t hate it, outright.