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   Final Film Critique: 

David Lindabury
   Expected Rating: R due to blood & Gore
   Distribution: No Exclusive Distribution
   Budget: $2,000
   Genre: Horror

   Running Time: 9 minutes

   Release Dates: June 1, 2005
   Review Date: March 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Kari Ann Morgan

Final Score:

Redneck...and horror.

Most people wouldn't think of putting those two concepts together in a film. Not David Lindabury. In this debut film of Fearsome 4 Productions, Skankobite explores the hell that breaks loose in a trailer park when a mysterious tin of chewin' tobacco is opened.

It all starts when Daddy sends Krystal, his stacked, blonde, twentysomething daughter out to get him some pork rinds and tobacco. Unable to find his regular brand of chew, Krystal returns with a relic-like tin of Skull tobacco. She opens it and gives it to Daddy, who enjoys a "dip" while sitting in his recliner watching wrestling on the static-infested television. No sooner does he partake of his "Smokeless Configuration" than bloody, disfigured ghouls appear from the shadows, presumably from some condemned Netherworld.

They tell Krystal to leave, as they intend to have their bloody way with Daddy, who is, by now, hooked to his chair. After a moment of indecision, Krystal refuses to leave, opting instead to stay and become one of the demons. A few simple gashes with a knife, and voila, she is transformed into a grisly demon. The film ends as Krystal joins her companions in front of Daddy, promising him, "Don't worry… it only hurts for a little bit."

There are pros and cons to making short films. On one hand, they can take less time to shoot, and thus, cost less money. On the other hand, however, it takes a fair amount of creativity and planning to adequately tackle your entire concept in less than 30 minutes. I felt that, while the idea of Skankobite was intriguing, the running time of 9 minutes wasn't enough to effectively flesh out and explain it.

The overall story was rather confusing and hard to follow, leaving more questions by the end than answers. For example, who are the demons and where did they come from? What is their connection to the Skull tobacco tin? What is their purpose? Why did Krystal choose to join the demons when she could have simply left and started a new life for herself? Because these questions are unanswered by the end of the film, it leaves the viewer with a sense of incompleteness, like they only saw part of a larger project.

Daddy's not one for the social
graces of the big city...
...which is why poor Krystal turned
out to be pure trailer trash herself.

This is something that could be remedied with explanations, both in the basic editing and in the writing. For example, when the demons first show up, Krystal could ask, "Who are you?" They would then reply that the tin of tobacco is cursed and that any mortal who partakes of it is cast into an eternal torment of being dismembered while watching nothing but infomercials, and that they are the ones who retrieve the souls to take them to Hell. (I'm just making this up for an example.) This could be done either through straight explanation or by doing a voice over while showing the actions. Maybe when the demons tell Krystal to leave, she gets a mental image of the damage she would be able to inflict on Daddy if she joins the demons; that way, the audience knows why she chooses to go with them.

By writing more in-depth dialogue and using explanatory visuals, I believe that almost all of the confusion would have been cleared up without having to add more than 5 minutes to the overall running time of the film.

Visual Look
First of all, I must say that the makeup in Skankobite was awesome. Having done makeup for theatre and screen before, I can honestly say that they did a great job. There are two ways you can go with horror makeup: realistic or campy, and realistic is harder to do, especially on a low budget. But they were able to do it with this film. (Hats off to Special Effects Make-up Designer Sabrina Wagner.) Not only were the "major" effects done well, but I especially appreciated the little touches, like the dirt in the creases and fingernails of Daddy's hands.

The camera work was mostly basic tripod shots with a few handhelds. This worked well for the most part, although the handheld shots, while few, tended to be shaky. This could be remedied by using a homemade steadycam device. There were some nice visual layouts in several scenes, namely one where Krystal is in the foreground in profile with her legs out in front of her in a "Trucker Girl" pose.

The lighting and special visual effects were also done well. There was creative use of colored lighting, and the effects done in post (demon morphs, electricity sparks, etc.) were used sparingly but effectively.

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