There's a funny moment about twenty minutes into Skinwalkers, when a balding protagonist, played by Elias Koteas, has to explain what's going on to a confused Rhona Mitra. "We're called Skinwalkers," he says. "You would call us werewolves." Oh, thanks. That clears it up. It turns out that Mitra's character is more or less the only non-wolf character in the entire film. She's caught in the middle of an idealogical war between opposing clans of werewolves, some of whom believe that being a werewolf is a bad thing and want an out, and those on the other side who believe being a wolf is fun and have formed themselves into a motorcycle gang of marauding lycanthropes. There's a nice little moment when a pistol-packing granny throws down against the gang when they ride into town looking for trouble, but I'm already stretching to be nice. The good moments are actually few and far between. Only Stan Winston completists or late-to-the-party casting agents wanting a good look at Mitra in action will find much on offer here.

The entire premise of a war between reluctant and self-righteous monsters has already been done (and better) by the X-Men series, which is the obvious inspiration here. There's even a blatant rip-off in the form of a 'boy cure,' which was the plot-engine in the third X-Men film. (To be totally fair, Skinwalkers could have been written long before that film, for all I know.) The boy in this film, played by Matthew Knight, has some kind of special, rare blood that can turn werewolves back into men, or something like that, so he was long ago spirited away to a small town to live with his in-the-dark mother, played by Mitra, all the while secretly protected by good wolves who never let anyone know they're even wolves at all. At night, these good wolves strap themselves into harnesses so that when the moon is full and they wolf-out (thanks to the drama coach in Teen Wolf for that phrase) they won't cause damage. Every night, from sundown to sunup, they howl and thrash, harmlessly.