A movie within a movie (within a movie), “Skeleton Crew” is the tale not only of the twisted Auteur – a madman who tortured and killed his patients at a secluded asylum and filmed it for his own amusement – but of the film crew that set about telling his story only to find themselves caught up in it as well.
The movie starts off simply enough with stranded motorists taking refuge in a creepy hospital. We quickly learn that this is actually a film being shot to tell the story of that hospital – a mental institution that was the site of a series of gruesome murders 25 years earlier by the doctor, who was a self-styled film maker and wanted to film his noxious fun with his victims. While exploring the basement, his actual films are uncovered and provide our director with the inspiration that he needed to make his film TRULY great. Life – short though it may be – is never the same for the cast and crew again.
Let’s get one thing out the way right up front: most of the acting is putrid. If you can look past that, this film isn’t bad at all. For a low budget slasher flick it does a great job of creating a creepy, sinister mood and the sets are incredible. The story, too, is good although there’s an entirely unnecessary extra twist at the end that really sort of ruined what was a pretty straightforward story. There are some ghost story elements that, while never explored as much as they could have been, work well to set this apart from standard slasher fare.
A movie that was a victim of both its own hubris, in trying to make itself smarter than it need to be at the end, and its budget, in really having to settle for some bottom-tier acting, “Skeleton Crew” is still a solid watch in spite of its warts. It’s got enough gruesomeness for the slasher crowd and enough story for people that prefer actual scares to random gore.