Skin Walker | Review
The Skin I Don’t Live In: Neuman Prepares a Fractured Affair in Disjointed Debut
All the technical elements of a creepy genre film are evident in Skin Walker, the directorial debut of Christian Neuman. A Luxembourgian/Belgian co-production, which benefits the film’s off-kilter Euro menace, industrial grunge vs. woodland isolation assist in concocting a tale of madness for its troubled heroine, whose past comes back to haunt her in unexpected ways. Utilizing a variety of narrative elements to piece together the events of the past informing the present eventually melts the film’s uneasy characteristics into something non-cohesive and much less interesting than its disparate parts otherwise suggest.
Another tale of a protagonist returning to her childhood home (which Thomas Wolfe perhaps should have phrased one “shouldn’t” rather than “can’t” go home again) to rehash significant trauma and dysfunction, DP Amandine Klee makes excellent use of the Luxembourg and Belgian locales. Even some of the film’s editing choices work in its favor, but an increasing dependence on fluctuating, evolving flashbacks, although establishing Regine’s mental state as suspect, makes for a muddled hodgepodge which derails the tension of what is or isn’t going on at home with Udo Kier.
As for Kier, who provides his peculiar brand of acting which works quite well with bizarre narratives of mental imbalance and discord, fans of the German cult icon won’t necessarily be disappointed. Apologies to a ferret and an animal carving scene which recalls the anguish of Joan Crawford vs. George Kennedy in William Castle’s Strait-Jacket (1964) play quite effectively.
Although Amber Anderson feels left adrift by Neuman’s direction and a third act creature sails this into Brothers Grimm. territory, she’s a striking presence and turns in a performance which deserves a better coffin. A title referring to the term for a shape shifting witch from the Navajo seems a bit misleading based on what Neuman’s put together.