Movie Review: Skew (2011)

September 13, 2012

The movie cover art for Skew lists six different film festival achievements, alongside a series of great, endorsing quotes. So I thought, okay, I’m in the mood to write a good review tonight for a genuinely good Horror film, and Skew looks like it can be that film. Unfortunately my hopes and dreams were shot down without mercy and I feel lied to by the movie cover art. I’m guessing that those quotes were published on Opposite Day or were cherry picked. Or maybe I just noticed different things.

Skew follows three friends on a road trip to a wedding, and one of them, Simon (Rob Scattergood) decides to film the entire trip on a handicam. It seems innocent enough until every person Simon captures on his camera — except his friends Rich (Richard Olak) and Eva (Amber Lewis) — dies in a gruesome accident. Tensions flare, friendships are tested, and never before has the “found footage” style of filmmaking been more appropriate while not working at all.

Written and directed by Sevé Schelenz, Skew was very mismanaged. Very early on (think 2 minutes in) it’s evident that this film is very sloppily cut and pieced together. The very first scene appears to be made up of multiple takes, as Rich teleports across the set. I really wish we could chalk those up as time jumps which you can often find in found footage films, but that isn’t the case here — Rich’s sentences don’t jump in time. That scene is in real time, so there shouldn’t have been any jumps.

Further, the dreaded question “why are you filming?” was spoken less than five minutes into Skew, and it returns roughly every five minutes after. That’s the killer of a lot of found footage films — it makes me also ask “yeah, why are you filming?” Being fair, in this film it’s used to create tension between the characters, as Simon’s filming his friends’ every move is creepy and inappropriate and it ticks them off. But with this, it only serves to make Simon — the main character — extremely unlikable and irritating.

Speaking of Simon being irritating, his friends are saints for putting up with him. Make no mistake, Rich is the driver, and were I him, Simon would be hitch hiking to the wedding after five minutes on the road. Honestly, that dislikability makes this film painful to watch. In a cast of effectively three, the lead who’s perspective we have to experience for 80 minutes needs to be likable. That’s non-negotiable in my mind.

The worst of it all though, is a major plothole which derails the entire film. The mediocre dialogue aside, this writing is so sloppy that I’m appalled. There isn’t much I can say without entering spoiler territory, but as we the viewers are allegedly watching taped footage, there are moments where the characters themselves rewind and rewatch the tapes. The problem is the rewinding wouldn’t realistically be recorded. Further, upon a replay, the content which we’ve already seen wouldn’t change for that replay.

Clarity in a sentence: Skew accidentally rotates between us viewers watching the found footage, to watching footage as it’s being taken — as in before it becomes lost.

There are two potential arguments around this which I can think of, as Skew leaves a lot of stuff open to interpretation. The first would be that we’re not actually watching found footage, and that we ourselves are the character Simon in the moment. For that to be the case, the ending would have to change along with a few scenes where Simon isn’t carrying the camera. The other potential-but-failing argument could be that we are the camera, however for that to work the relationship between Simon and the camera would have to change.

I don’t care who you are, or if your film had next to no budget, you can’t get away with this stuff. Skew is rife with flaws, a very irritating lead, poor dialogue, and a plothole which makes it impossible to realistically exist even in fiction.

So what did I like about this movie? :-)

The idea behind Skew is really cool, and it could have been a really good found footage film. If Schelenz had decided to simplify it into just a road trip where the people that were caught on Simon’s camera die, while retaining some of the twists currently present and have it be straightforward found footage — no rewinds and playbacks, just the footage on the camera — Skew might have rocked. I appreciate that, but you can’t get around the fact that the execution is horrible.

Otherwise, there are a few creepy scenes, and I dig the relationship between the characters Rich and Eva, and I can’t think of many good things to say beyond that. I was in a mood to depart from all of the junk I’ve been watching for something good which I haven’t seen, and then review it. I’m honestly just disappointed and next time I’ll remember that the cover art can be a lie. As of this writing, Skew can be found on Netflix in the USA and I’m guessing other services/retailers if you want to catch it. However I advise against doing that.

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