Down by the crawdads of the bayou waters in Louisiana lives a dark and fearsome monster…er, well, maybe. He could be there to take your blood because of his abysmal curse…or just, like, ask for his stuff back. He could be there to hunt you down in the dead of night, deep in the deserted swamps of the South…or maybe he’s just there to knock on your door and stare at you for a while.
Whatever his reason and rhyme, we know one thing – he is the new subject of Seth Breedlove’s Small Town Monsters series, SKINWALKER: THE HOWL OF THE ROUGAROU.
And I am thrilled to officially be “That Guy” of our website: I am gleefully the “Small Town Monsters Guy”. (Takes a very awkward bow) I know this because I was the first go-to of our boss who barely remembers my name, let alone my area of the horror genre I typically haunt. So, when he sent me the screener and said, “knock yourself out”, well…it’s already on my business card, let’s say.
We head back to the typical Small Town Monsters set-up, focusing on the state of Louisiana and its history, hopping into small pockets of Americana along the way. The story of the ROUGAROU comes from a blend of legends from Native American and French settlers (ahem, not so unlike our folklore up here in Detroit). It tells of a story of a half-man, half-wolf…and that’s about as consistent as it gets.
From there, they branch into different variations, including local legends, personal anecdotes, and archetypal themes of the monster. In one of the eye-witness reports, she had collected some Native American artifacts and the ROUGAROU visited her at night to politely ask her to return them.
Another spoke of being babysat and the creature knocking on the door and stepping inside the house to just kinda…stare at everyone for a few minutes before leaving.
Others talk about the ROUGAROU asking people to hurt it to break the curse…
Honestly, I feel bad for it. I kinda like it. It’s basically a very large EEK! The Cat. There’s really no account of it actually hurting anybody. There’s one account where it might have been headless (?) and scared some kids, but even in the documentary, they basically admit, “Eh, the Bayou is full of weird monsters and stuff, it could have been something else.”
The ROUGAROU just needs some friends, I think.
THIS. THIS, my friends, is my Small Town Monsters jam. It checked my boxes. The effects were good (creature design was way creepier than my goofy drawings would suggest). There were still STM staples throughout, including colorful local characters and stories, local histories, art of the creature, and beloved Lyle Blackburn as narrator.
It somewhat veered away from the ROUGAROU story towards the middle with some ghost stories and other creatures of the area, but brought it back together again nicely (honestly, those could have been cut for better flow, but it wasn’t a big deal).
But in entirety, SKINWALKER was sweet and full of heart and full of amazing shots of the area and its people.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again since I’m here and you’re here – Breedlove has a special knack at capturing a visual love letter to Americana via cryptids. Seriously, from the beginning and throughout, the real story of SKINWALKER: THE HOWL OF THE ROUGAROU isn’t so much the ROUGAROU, but the state and its people. It’s about the levees. It’s about the literal foundation of Louisiana and its people, both Native and settled. It’s about change, both climate and culturally.
He has an incredible talent at focusing on this without any hint of exploitation. He does this out of love and tremendous care; and it shows in each movie, and SKINWALKER is no different. The true message isn’t about a monster, but about community and supporting these small pockets of America. And what a beautiful message that is.
A fantastic addition to the Small Town Monster Series and full of great campfire stories of the bayou werewolf who may or may not politely knock on your door to stare at you.(4.5 / 5)
Skinwalker: The Howl of the Rougarou will be available to purchase or rent on September 14th on a number of platforms from 1091 Pictures, including iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, Vudu and FandangoNOW. Small Town Monsters will also release a special edition Blu-ray ($18.99) and DVD ($14.99) from their official store.