Three friends are going on a road trip to their friend's wedding, and one of them brings a video camera with him. When he refuses to stop filming everything, the tension rises within the group. But a bigger problem is present when people around them begin to die, and the camera seems to catch things the bare eye can't.
I think of myself as a fan of these handheld mockumentary films even though movies like "Cloverfield" and "Paranormal Activity" failed to deliver. Actually, thinking about it, most of them aren't very good but the concept is still solid and delivers a lot of extra tension for the camera style alone. Films like "Long Pigs", "August Underground", "Man Bites Dog", "Jimmy and Judy", "The Life and Death of a Porno Gang" and "Cannibal Holocaust" are some of the most solid ones, but there are still some above decent ones like "Zusje", "Rec" and "The Blair Witch Project". How's that for name-dropping? 11 titles in one paragraph. Sorry for that, but I felt it was needed to make clear that I'm a fan of the style, and that I've seen a varied sort of them as well. Exactly where "Skew" ends up on the ladder is hard to say, but it has some things to offer that definitely make it a worthy addition. It's not on the very top, but at the very least it's better than the two first mentioned.
The story is easy to grasp as it follows a very familiar concept - a couple of friends going on a trip. On this trip one of them brings a camera, and is nearly obsessed with filming everything that happens. As long as he himself isn't caught on tape. Things start happening when we see people with weird faces through the lens and other sudden figures appearing. These are not visible for the bare eye, which leaves it to only our camera man to experience them. When rewinding the tape they are not there (I'll get into my opinion on handheld films having rewinding scenes later) and thus the others in the group never believe him. After every time he sees someone's face looking strange, the person ends up dead later. Meanwhile, the other two friends are getting annoyed at this obsession with the camera, and his on-going rambling nonsense about weird faces.
There are some things I don't like in my handheld films. Those things are obvious CGI effects, background music and scenes where they rewind the camera. "Skew" does all of them. The CGI effects aren't that great, but they aren't as much CGI as they are greenscreened shots added to the scenes. I think they just used what they could to make the scenes they wanted, and that's fine. It's an independent product and it was an effective way to get it done. The music, on the other hand, is something I find very strange. It's not very in-your-face about it, but you notice it and that's enough to take out some of the reality. I think it could've worked just as well without the music - I'm fine with some of the sound effects they used. The final thing is the rewinding. Many of these films show this, but I don't understand how that works? Would you really see the rewinded bit on a tape? At least that hasn't been the case on any camera I've seen. But the way "Skew" did it actually works, and I'm not sure if this is the same approach as other films have used since it never was this clear. In "Skew" it's not really a found footage kind of thing, but that we're seeing what happens from the lens as it happens. If that makes any sense. There are many scenes where he rewinds the tape to see the thing that just scared him, but it's not there. And the only explanation for that would be that we follow the camera in real time and not as a found tape.
The movie works exclusively with jump scares, and I think the very first one was excellent because it was so sudden and actually gave me some chills. This rarely happens in a Hollywood production, where their jump scares are far from a surprise. But as the film goes on, we're fed with jump scares on multiple occasions, eventually leaving us immune to it. However this didn't bother me, I think jump scares are okay when done well and they certainly were in this one. What I didn't like though is that I don't feel we got an explanation for the things that went on. In many cases I don't need to know the root of everything, but here it was almost like they ignored much of what had happened and focused on the man behind the camera instead. Maybe there was something I missed that explained it all, but in that case it wasn't executed very well. The ending left me wanting more for that sole purpose - I wanna know the why's. But up until that point, this was an alright independent horror movie.
I certainly don't have a problem with the acting, and not the writing either. The dialogue worked through the movie, they were delivered in a natural way, and overall just gave me what I wanted out of a mockumentary movie. It's not gonna be a cult classic like many of the greatest ones, but you might as well watch this one instead of "Paranormal Activity", as it's both smarter and much more effective. Sevé Schelenz has received an OK in my book after this movie and I look forward to see what he will be giving us in the future, "Skew" is by all means an above-average directorial debut that offers some scares that actually could make your toes curl if you watch it alone in the dark.