Skinwalkers (2002 film)

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DVD cover of Skinwalkers (2002 film).jpg
Directed by Chris Eyre
Produced by Craig McNeil
Michael Nozik
(executive producer)
Robert Redford
Rebecca Eaton
Written by James Redford
Based on Skinwalkers 
by Tony Hillerman
Starring Adam Beach
Wes Studi
Michael Greyeyes
Alex Rice
Misty Upham
Music by BC Smith
Cinematography Roy H. Wagner
Edited by Cindy Mollo
Distributed by PBS
Release dates
November 24, 2002 (2002-11-24)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Skinwalkers is a 2002 mystery television film based on the novel by Tony Hillerman, one of a series of mysteries set against contemporary Navajo life in the Southwest. It stars Adam Beach as Jim Chee and Wes Studi as Joe Leaphorn. It was produced as part of the PBS Mystery! series.


Joe Leaphorn, a seasoned cop accustomed to the ways of Phoenix, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque, has returned to the Navajo reservation. Recovering from cancer, his wife, Emma, feels rejuvenated by her home's landscape and people. Leaphorn is less sure about their return. Well schooled in urban policing, he is soon confronted with a particular Navajo case: a mysterious killer who has a special antipathy for medicine men. He works with a partner Jim Chee, an FBI Academy grad who is training to be a traditional healer.

Roman George's body is found miles from his abandoned truck and surrounded by ancient symbols etched in blood. A local archeologist holds the key to the symbols he left behind, so Chee and Leaphorn pay him a visit at a nearby Anasazi ruins. There, these unlikely partners find further clues indicating that the murderer may be a "skinwalker," a Navajo witch with the power to shape shift, or change from human to animal, move with lightning speed, and to kill with curses. Fearing that his mentor, Wilson Sam, will be next, Chee convinces the medicine man to hide in a nearby motel.

As Chee juggles the day-to-day police work on the reservation, Leaphorn tracks down clues to the identity of the evasive criminal. More ancient symbols are found at an abandoned paint factory, where a local gang has been congregating. What do the signs mean? Who is sending these messages in blood? Could the murders be linked to the old Dinetah Paints scandal? Chee does not have much time to mull these questions over, as he soon finds himself in the killer's crosshairs.[1]

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