The first werewolves, we're told in the new movie Skinwalkers, were Native Americans. They called these shape-shifters "Skinwalkers."
Which is funny because one can find ready evidence that the ancient Romans and perhaps even the ancient Greeks wrote of them. And Medieval scribes.
But anyway, every new werewolf movie has to reinvent some of the mythology (though not usually the silver bullets it takes to kill them), so forget all about your Werewolves of London and such and just go with it, right? Revel in the cheese.
Fret not over the notion of a legend that a boy will be born who, on his 13th birthday, will bring an end to this "curse," that it happens at the stroke of midnight (when else?), that there are werewolves who eat humans.
"They're addicted to blood."
In this version of the myth there are werewolf vegetarians who fight them. With guns. Both sides are armed to the, ahem, teeth.
The boy (Matthew Knight) doesn't know his destiny. His family has hidden it from him and protected him. The entire village of Huguenot knows.
Except for his mom (Rhona Mirtra).
So when a gang of bad werewolves come gunning for the kid, mother and son are shocked when the entire town breaks out firearms and commences to shooting.
It's like the finale to Hot Fuzz when the butcher, the baker, and granny break out the heat and open up.
Mother and son make their Terminator getaway, with the help of Uncle Jonas (Elias Koteas, who deserves better) and other skinwalker relatives, each to be picked off in some moment of sacrifice in order to protect the kid. A Native American enabler (Tom Jackson) is along to lash down the good werewolves every full moon.
Cheap shocks abound, but there's a good fight, here and there. The kid's boring and the script has the character make exactly the wrong move at every moment. The beasties on bikes wear what look like leftover wolf-heads from the old Beauty and the Beast TV show.
Monster-effects guy Stan Winston designed them (to his shame) and hardcore fans can actually win one by mailing their ticket stub, opening weekend, to an address given on the film's website, skinwalkers.com.
Surprise Mom for Halloween!
The bad guys follow some sort of unexplained magical hawk, and a chunk of the budget went to showing us hawk's eye-view shots of the cross-country chase. Less money was spent on most everything else, especially the dull, cut-rate-effects Terminator style climactic fight, which is mercifully brief, at least.
Skinwalkers may be an attempt to reinvent a myth. But this bloodless dog isn't exactly a life-saving transfusion for a genre that hasn't shown signs of life in years.
Cast: Jason Behr, Elias Koteas, Kim Coates, Rhona Mitra, Matthew Knight
Director: James Isaac.
Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Industry rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sexual material and language.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times