Friday, September 10, 2021

Skinwalker: The Howl of the Rougarou (2021)

Movie Name/Year: Skinwalker: The Howl of the Rougarou (2021)
Genre: Documentary
Length: 70 minutes
Rating: Unrated
Director: Seth Breedlove
Writer: Heather Moser, Seth Breedlove
Actors: Lyle Blackburn, Santino Vitale, Amy Davies, Grayden Nance, Adrienne Breedlove
Blurb: For centuries, stories have persisted throughout the southern swamps of something truly otherworldly: a terrifying, hirsute creature known by locals as the Rougarou. These legends predate the first immigrant settlers who made their way into the murky waters and dark forests of the south, yet the Rougarou has only recently made its way into pop culture via appearances in horror films, a regional festival and even a roller coaster ride.

Selina’s Point of View:
Any of our consistent readers know that I’m not a documentary person. I watch movies for entertainment value. If I want to learn about something, I prefer to pick up a book. So, why would I voluntarily choose a film like Skinwalker: The Howl of the Rougarou?
My interest in all things werewolf simply outweighs my distaste for documentaries. Between that and Cat’s interest in a subject that affects her home state of Louisiana – watching this was always in the cards.
I’ve opted not to give it a number score, though Cat will be reviewing it normally. I’m going to operate on a pass/fail kind of mentality. A number score coming from me just wouldn’t be fair to the project. It would be like a vegetarian judging a piece of steak.
That said, let’s jump into it.
It wasn’t what I expected it to be.

From the promotional info, I thought the documentary would be laying out an argument on the existence of the Rougarou. Instead, it was almost an anthropological look at the importance, and cultural impact, of the stories that have been told. I have to say, that actually worked out better for me.
I’m from NYC – home of the eternal skeptic. It would have been a hard sell to get me to believe in any kind of Rougarou reality. The fact that the documentary didn’t even try to go that route, meant that I wound up much more engaged than I would have been.
Instead, there were interesting stories told about Louisiana and its people, the etymology of the Rougarou word, history of the legend, and some engaging visuals that went hand-in-hand with recreations. I also couldn’t ignore that the voice of the narrator reminded me of the Natural History Museum and some of its exhibits.
Would I choose to watch Skinwalker: The Howl of the Rougarou again? No. It didn’t change my opinion of documentaries. Would I recommend it to people who DO like the genre? That I would.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Louisiana cryptid known as the Rougarou, you will be able to rent/purchase Skinwalker: The Howl of the Rougarou on most streaming platforms Sept 14th.

Cat’s Point of View:
We’re stepping a little bit outside of our usual box with today’s review. We were given the opportunity to view a screener for an upcoming documentary focusing on a bit of lore from my home state of Louisiana. I realize that anyone familiar with our monthly trailer-viewing stream, which preps for our Top 20 Movies article, will likely be a bit surprised. We don’t generally cover documentaries unless they really grab our attention. Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou did just that.
Rougarou are creatures of folklore primarily in South Louisiana, where swamps, bayous, and marshland abound. They’re akin to werewolves but with a twist.
I have lived all but one year of my life within the state of Louisiana, yet I’d really only heard of the Rougarou in passing. This particular cryptid doesn’t make appearances up here in the northern part of the state where I am. You find tales and sightings far down at the other end of ‘the boot’. We’re talking rural areas, at the level of New Orleans or below.
All the same, I’m absolutely fascinated with this sort of thing and am down for learning more about it, so this documentary checks all the boxes.
Now to the nitty-gritty.
I’d have to say that this was a fairly solid offering for the documentary genre. I could have done without some of the shaky-cam swamp scenes used as transitions or the filters used to create an old-timey film reel visual. It didn’t really need those extra bells and whistles.

I consider a documentary a success if you learn something from it, or it calls attention to something that needs more awareness. Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou did both.
We’re offered some history on both the Cajun people’s arrival in southern Louisiana and also the Native American tribes of that area. I learned about some things that my school classes on Louisiana History didn’t cover. That’s always a bonus.
There are often unexplained sightings attributed to this elusive cryptid, as well. Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou gives us some tales of harrowing encounters with the beast via witness interviews. Of course, there’s a historian’s perspective provided also. I found listening to the tales fascinating. My maternal grandmother’s family comes from South Louisiana and some of the people interviewed had accents that reminded me of listening to my great aunt when she came to visit.
I appreciate that members of our Native American tribes and their stories were represented, as well.
One of the most important features of the Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou documentary is the attention it brings to the coastal land erosion in southern Louisiana. Every year, swaths of Louisiana simply erode away to be lost to the Gulf of Mexico. Saltwater intrusion creeps in and decimates freshwater ecosystems. As sea levels rise, this is something that will only worsen in the future.
All told, Skinwalker: Howl of the Rougarou is a nice slice of Louisiana folklore with a generous helping of environmental awareness.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None
Metascore – None
Metacritic User Score – None
IMDB Score – None
Trust the Dice: Selina’s RatingPass
Trust the Dice: Cat’s Rating3/5
Trust-the-Dice’s Parental Advisory Rating: PG-13
Movie Trailer:

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