OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets


Fear Itself (TV) - "Skin and Bones" (2008)

Let me start this review by saying that the world needs more movies about "obscure" monsters of myth, legend and lore. Seriously: There are hundreds of vampire movies, hundreds of zombie flicks. There is a scary amount of movies about clowns (apparently, those red-nosed things strike a nerve in a lot of people), aliens from outer space of differing varieties and flavours, flicks about golems (read: Frankenstein), giant monsters (aka "men in rubber suits"), not to mention the countless movies about ghosts... but what about the REALLY COOL thingies that go bump in the night?

Most of you probably know that I adore the movie Cannibal Flesh Riot! with an unhealthy obsession. I would sacrifice my first-born for this movie, if I ever had one. There need to be more movies about ghouls. Because, you know, ghouls are wickedly awesome. However, realising that not everyone might feel about ghouls the same way I do, I am perfectly content with the second most wickedly cool and awesome monster of myth, legend and lore ever: The Wendigo (spellings of the term vary, choose your own favourite version).

Before I turn my attention to the movie in question (Skin and Bones), let me elaborate a bit about why I think this movie is awesome.

The wendigo myth is one of the more captivating myths about nasty critters that exist (I am purely expressing my own opinion, of course). There are lots of local variations, but the basics of the myth remains/remained the same all through the different stories of the Algonquin-tribes:

The wendigo is a cannibalistic entity that embodies greed, excess and gluttony. Humans can turn into wendigos by either committing an act of cannibalism or by being possessed by the wendigo spirit (the Spirit of the Lonely Places).

There is much more to it than just that, though, but it would sort of make this review explode with trivia and stories none of you want to read in a review of a TV show's episode, so I just say that wendigowak are awesome beyond words (only ghouls top them) and that you should feel free to peruse the internet in order to find out more about this intriguing myth and concept.
Warning: A certain level of intelligence is required in order to appreciate the myth in its entirety. You have been warned - so if you have difficulty spelling IQ, don't bother. Not that I think any of my few but precious readers fall under that category.

That said - on to the flick itself.

The scenery is absolutely adorable. Maybe it's because the area where I grew up looks more or less exactly the same (the mountains, the sky, the colours... ah, nostalgia creeps in...), but it's very beautiful.
The colours are rich and beautiful, the pictures executed nearly perfectly. I especially like that the camera doesn't hesitate to show us extremely pretty, beautiful sights in the same frame as genuinely creepy and unsettling imagery. Thumbs up, Larry Fessenden. I thoroughly enjoyed what you did there.

Also, the script is good, no matter how often I have to read from other people who appreciate a good horror movie that it was like "Ravenous Lite".
Seriously, folks: There aren't that many ways to write up a wendigo-story and still stay close to the source material. Ravenous (one of my all-time favourites EVAR) managed to do it. Skin and Bones also manages to do it, and admirably so.
So unless you complain about "pretty much every vampire movie is a rip off of [insert personal "THE FIRST, ULTIMATE VAMPIRE MOVIE" here]" - which I seriously doubt anyone does, even purism can't go that far... I hope... O_o - or can't watch any zombie flick because, hey, it rips off Romero (it has ZOMBIES! ZOMG! RIP OFF!!!)... just don't.
Whilst I agree that the setting and the scenery of Skin and Bones may remind viewers of Ravenous, it's a movie in itself and doesn't need to "rip off" the movie that I managed not to review yet but managed a few times in this paragraph now (Ecce! To what lengths she goes in order to avoid typing Ravenous yet again... oh, damn... ><). I personally appreciate that Drew McWeeny and Scott Swan took the myth of the wendigo and didn't twist it into something it isn't. Then again, they already showed that they can write captivating scripts in Showtime's "Masters of Horror" episodes Pro-Life and Cigarette Burns, both of which I enjoyed. In my personal opinion, they managed to top those two episodes with Skin and Bones.

The story in itself is very basic. You gotta enjoy movies that work without adding unnecessary ballast to the plot: The father of a family (one (1) mother, two (2) sons, one (1) brother of the father, which would make him the boys' uncle, technically speaking) got lost in the mountainous woods whilst with a hunting party... and remained lost for ten days. Now he's back... and changed. He's the party's only survivor, and he's hungry...

Really, guys and gals, ladies and gentlemen, ghouls and ghosts - you HAVE to watch this. Its main bonus, besides for being a thoroughly enjoyable flick about the wendigo-myth, is...

Doug Jones.

You might remember him as the Pale Man in Guillermo del Toro's beautiful Pan's Labyrinth. Pale Man? Guy with his eyes in his hands? Creeeeeeepy? Yepp, that one.

And I have to say... Jones really carries the movie on his shoulders. His performance alone is enough to watch this episode of "Fear Itself". Seriously, I could do with much more of him on the screen (and, consequently, much less of any other character). It is pure joy to watch him. His movements are perfectly executed, his voice... oh my Gods, the voice...

...let me put it this way: You can literally feel the anger and rage and hunger and loneliness in the voice of the Spirit of Lonely Places. Well, at least I could. Maybe I'm just more sympathetic towards wendigowak than the rest of the world is, though.

Jones is creepy. That pretty much sums it up. Creepy... gorgeously creepy.

I think I have to watch it again now.

10/10 eerily moving portrayals of someone who lost his humanity to hunger... consuming, all-devouring hunger...