DIRECTOR Sevé Schelenz WRITER Sevé Schelenz STARS Rob Scattergood; Amber Lewis; Richard Olak DVD 11 June
Truly, I wanted to love this. Low-budget, a first-time feature attempt, a great concept… All factors that can make for the sublime, when it all comes together.
But, I did not love it. I could not love it. Frankly, Skew is one of the most unbearable films to have upset my home cinema this year. For a film to work, the concept needs a directed story to present itself, which is where director/writer Sevé Schelenz fails. Miserably.
Simon, along with his best friend and the latter’s girlfriend — each of whom is irritating, Simon himself, maddening — head out on a road trip, the purpose of which we don’t discover until 17 minutes in; for a short run-time, this smacks of afterthought, followed up by shoddy editing. There is a tiny sliver of subplot — of a romantic sense, unlikely to intrigue horror viewers — but, adding nothing whatsoever to proceedings, this is valueless. And so, we follow the group on their journey, for which Simon has donned a camera to film the entire events thereof. Proceedings are irritatingly inane, until a man at a motel dies shortly after having been filmed, his face distorted when viewed via the viewfinder. As the journey continues, more deaths occur, Simon witnessing all faces involved as obscured prior, the camera becoming a harbinger of doom. This entire affair is told via supremely basic script that labours each conversational axis to such a degree that one cannot help but assume that this is merely to pad the damn thing out. For a modest, 83-minute run-time, unacceptable.
Credit must be given where it’s due, of course. Found footage is a tricky subgenre to add an original concept to, but Skew certainly makes a good attempt: a video camera that skews the faces of those for whom death awaits, I have not seen before (please enlighten me, if need be). Clearly this is not an entirely fresh approach, as we have seen technology predict death in film previously — the earliest example of which I can recall being The Omen, its photographic element terrifying me as a young girl — but the live footage angle is pleasing. Is it simply a prediction, or is the camera picking and choosing victims at whim? Viewers will also contemplate whether Simon is responsible, and ambiguity can play a strong role in a psychological horror setting when implemented well. The decision to shoot the entire film in POV format was a good move in supporting this element, adding a sense of claustrophobia and essentially creating a character of the camera itself.
But this is not enough. A great concept, wasted.