Despite a strong performance from Danielle Harris, Skin Collector is held down by it’s laugh out loud bad script. With some great ideas, this should be far better than it eventually ended up being. Such a disappointment.
A serial killer (John Jarratt) has been attacking young women has been running rampant in Oregon for a while. With detectives no closer to finding him, he set’s his sights on timid communications officer Wendy (Danielle Harris). When Wendy escapes from his clutches he becomes hell-bent on catching her and making her his prize.
An issue that causes Skin Collector to struggle is instead of just escaping Franklin as she does in the first attack. He is continually thought to be dead or imprisoned before coming back for her. These returns are effectively final act returns but sprinkled throughout the film. It stretches the believability of even a genre film that this person would come back so many times and somehow know exactly where to go every time to find Wendy.
Also, we have the worst detectives in the history of cinema or even VOD. Only after what seems like an age do they do anything like police work. A prime example is that throughout the entirety of the investigation into this quite prolific serial killer, they tie in that multiple women have purchased items from the same place. Our lead detective also allows poor Wendy to go to a place that she knows while a vengeful killer is most likely after her. In what world would she not be slipped off to a safe house… Oh after the second attack. Well done folks.
Danielle Harris carries this excuse for a film as well as she can. No one seems to care about this gruesome serial killer, not the lackadaisical police force (whose captain is close to retirement, so they better get this guy… Christ almighty), not the people in her workplace in the final scene where opening doors to gunshots in your office building is the most natural thing to do. Even John Jarratt has decided that hamming it up was the best approach here. Harris takes the material as seriously as she can as she battles through horrible dialogue to give the audience a great performance. It is such a shame that absolutely everything around it is next to unwatchable.
Other than potentially building up Wendy’s defiance and growth, there is still a large amount of puzzlement about the conversations Wendy has with her mother during Skin Collector. These are not conversations you would have with another human and despite everything else going on in the script, is the prime case in point as to why the film falters. How did the police or hospital not contact Wendy’s next of kin after not only the first attack but the second where she was unconscious for hours in a hospital? These simple things take you out of the film and begin to venture the film to laughable.
Yet, in Skin Collector, there are some great moments of horror, when good ole Franklin has Wendy repeat words he says to her. It is frightening and you put yourself into her shoes and shudder. Small moments like this cause the viewer to wonder what happened in this script. Moments like these work so well that it can’t be an accident. So why oh why is there so much wrong with the script? The premise is decent and has some great talent on hand to deliver a good movie. But, we are left with this shambles.
In a film like this, with a rubbish script, some in truth shameful performances, that there would be plenty of gore to make up for it. Something to get into as a horror fan. Nope. So much of the blood here is CGI that you wonder why they even bothered with those specific ideas. Go practical or don’t bother folks. This is further lamented in the fact that apparently, he is collecting prizes off his victims, yet we barely see anything resembling that until the final act. If your serial killer is so front and centre as he is here in Skin Collector, show him in his home environment doing things, not just simply killing women and then having mannequin heads in jars at his barn. This is meant to shock us, so actually try to shock us.
Other than Harris, director Julian Richards and editors Geoff Mastro and Mark Talbot-Butler come out of this with some sort of credit. Richards is lumbered with a low budget and truly does the best that he can with the material at hand, while our editors try to make what happens on screen as impactful as possible. It is just a shame that they are so hampered by the script and budget. For example, a car chase that is actually pretty decent considering everything else is meant to be in the dead of night, yet they had to film it during the day and through on the dreaded blue filter to make it look dark. Throughout there is the feeling that one hand has been tied behind the talents back.
Skin Collector would be a great film to group watch and have all the giggles at. While some small moments work tremendously well, this is a struggle.
Jinga Films presents Skin Collector, available on DVD and VOD now.
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