Dark Shadows: Review: Big Finish Audio 5: The Skin Walkers

Starring Lara Parker and David Selby

Written by Scott Handcock, directed by Darren Gross

In which Quentin Collins (Selby) relates to Angelique (Parker) how he fell foul of the Skin Walkers, a wide-spread, well-connected secret society in 1899 New York City…

The Skin Walkers has a promising enough premise – a group dedicated to the eradication of lycanthropy through the newest technological means available – but regrettably squanders it.

After being easily captured by the Skin Walkers, Quentin graphically experiences one of immortality’s drawbacks (picture Captain Jack Harkness in 1920s New York in Torchwood: Miracle Day), but then is simply let go so that he can voluntarily play his part in the prophecy that guides the cult’s actions!

Quentin then strikes up a relationship with the widowed Caitlin and her late husband’s two sickly, haunted children. For a time, domestic bliss ensues – until the ever-vigilant Skin Walkers decide Quentin isn’t helping their cause as swiftly as they’d like…

While it’s refreshing to have a Dark Shadows story take place far away from Collinsport, The Skin Walkers doesn’t entirely capture the show’s magic the way that previous releases have. Partly this could be due to the script, but some of the blame lies with David Selby’s performance. And considering his fine work in the full-cast audio dramas, this is especially puzzling.

Selby rushes through most of the script, leaving the listener struggling to keep up. Perhaps he was trying to convey a mood of urgency, or had other plot-related reasons for his performance; whatever the reason, it doesn’t work here.

Also, Lara Parker is largely wasted here, relegated to reacting against Quentin’s tale and prompting, “What happened next?” As in Angelique’s Descent, the lead actor plays both the main character and romantic interest, and Parker would’ve been better off playing the enigmatic Caitlin rather than an anemic rendition of Angelique.

The Skin Walkers isn’t entirely bad – the funeral ceremony scene at an isolated East Side cemetery is quite evocative, for example – but it is entirely frustrating on many levels.

VERDICT: A real dog’s (or in this case, wolf’s) dinner. 5/10

John S. Hall

Click here to buy The Skin Walkers from Big Finish

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