Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh

Driven by an ancient prophecy, two packs of warring "skinwalkers" -– werewolves, in Native American tradition -- converge on a small town, one to kill a child and the other to protect him, in this action oriented horror film.

As a red moon lights the night sky, Alpha skinwalker Varek (Jason Behr), his bitch, Sonja (Natassia Malthe), belligerent Zo (Kim Coates) and mute, scarred Grenier (Rogue Johnston) embark on a mission to find the boy who is somehow the key to curing lycanthropy. The child, Tim (Matthew Knight), lives in small-town Huguenot with his widowed mother Katherine (Sarah Carter), and her in-laws, who include her brother-in-law, Jonas (Elias Koteas), Jonas' mother (Barbara Gordon) and his nubile daughter, Rachel (Rhona Mitra). Katherine has no idea that 12-year-old Tim is anything more than an ordinary child who has asthma and bad, bad dreams. But the rest of the family, along with everyone else in town, knows exactly who he is: They're all skinwalkers too. As in THE HOWLING (1981), the shape-shifting community is divided along philosophical lines: The bad skinwalkers embrace their beastliness, while the good skinwalkers live for the hope of a cure and lock themselves up when the moon is full. Katherine's extended family is sworn to protect Tim, whose powers – whatever they are – will manifest themselves the day he turns 13. With Tim's birthday fast approaching, Varek and his fellow werewolves on wheels are determined to make sure that never happens, and they've just discovered where Tim lives.

Directed by special effects artist Jim Isaac, SKINWALKERS adds little to the annals of werewolf lore. But it's briskly paced and features a couple of clever twists on genre conventions before getting bogged down in a lengthy fight sequence during which the lupine adversaries resolve their diametrically opposed ideologies by fang and claw. Surprisingly, the emphasis is more on conventional action than on man-to-wolf metamorphosis effects and the subsequent beastly mayhem. Surprisingly, the conception of the skinwalkers actually owes more to the old movie tradition of man-wolves than to the more recent trend towards full body transformations.