Skew (2011)

Starring Robert Scattergood, Amber Lewis, and Richard Olak

Written and directed by Seve Schelenz

We at Dread Central love independent filmmakers. In fact, if it weren’t for indie films, our beloved genre might just wither away after being forced out by mega-crap movies. So whenever one comes along like Skew, we feel it’s our duty, or moral obligation, to get word out about it and bring it to the movie-watching masses. In some cases, presenting an independent movie means showing a flick so bad it’s unintentionally hilarious, or so deep that no one can understand what the director meant to do. In the case of Skew, however, what we get is a movie with an interesting concept and real talent, both in front of and behind the lens.

Skew is a “found footage” type film, in which we’re treated to the jerky and jumbling camera work of some guy with a handy-cam. He and his two friends (who happen to be dating) head off on a road trip, with him filming every second and annoying the piss out of his companions. Things go along as well as can be expected, until he notices that, through the camera’s lens, he sees certain people’s faces twisted up, distorted. It gets even stranger that the people to whom the skewed faces belong wind up dead in horrific ways. As the film progresses, he gets more and more freaked out, and his companions get more and more terrified and irritated.

The actors in this movie, Robert Scattergood, Amber Lewis, and Richard Olak, play their parts to the hilt. Though we never see the face of the cameraman, we hear the panic rise in his voice as his hold on reality slips further and further away. Likewise, his companions’ growing irritation is played with such realism that the viewer often wonders why they don’t just pummel the cameraman and leave him on the side of the road. Of course, they won’t. They’re too good of people to do that, which makes their story all the more realistic. There are also quite a few moments of genuine fright in Skew. Sure, director Schelenz does go for the quick “BOO” a couple of times, but in other cases what he puts forth are scenes that affect the viewer on a primal level because of how wrong they seem. There are several scenes that will stick with you long after the movie is over.

Which is not to say Skew is a perfect film. There are a few flaws that should’ve been addressed, but most of those flaws are also things done with larger budgets in Hollywood. The first major flaw, stylistically, was too long of a build-up before something happened in the movie. Sure, the relationships of the characters needed to be addressed and built, but the first half of the movie dragged by. Second, and this is a problem with many “found footage” movies, the narrator’s camera. Specifically, the super-batteries he must’ve had. There’s never any mention of having to recharge or running low on power. Combined with the characters’ infuriating habit of letting their friend with the camera irritate them to the point of violence, this gives this movie a few moments that might be improved.

However, on the whole, Skew is entertaining, shows a great deal of talent and heart, and musters up a few scares. The story doesn’t feel cliche or tired, and the actors do a great job with what they’re given. It’s a good movie that deserves the accolades it’s been getting on the festival circuit. If you get the chance, it’s well worth a look.

3 1/2 out of 5

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Scott A. Johnson

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