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Under the Skin

Movie review by
S. Jhoanna Robledo, Common Sense Media
Under the Skin Movie Poster Image
Tense, slick thriller is creepy, with full nudity.
  • R
  • 2014
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie is set in a grim world of anonymous sex and danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some of the men seem innocent bystanders. One is downright kind and caring.

Violence

The plot centers on a woman who picks up men on the street for what seems like sex, but turns into something more nefarious. Little to no gore, but the imagery is disturbing, especially when naked men are shown being absorbed by a strange body of water. The soundtrack and sound effects pile on, enveloping most scenes in a very charged, tense feeling. A woman is shown being chased in the woods by a would-be rapist. He slaps her and manhandles and tries to rip her clothes off.

Sex

Lots of full-frontal nudity, including men's genitalia and a hint of a woman's pubic region. The central female character's breasts and backside are visible, too. In one scene, a man and a woman start to have sex, and his naked backside is visible as they get into a sexual position.

Language

One instance of the word "s--t."

Consumerism

Some labels seen, including stores in a mall like Clare's, Boots, Foot Locker, Marks & Spencer and Next; Tesco, the supermarket, is name-dropped. In a store, bags of Doritos are glimpsed.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking at a nightclub.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Under the Skin is a creepy, atmospheric thriller about a woman who reaps men from the streets of Glasgow, ostensibly for sex, but actually to kill and feed on. It's disturbing, no question, even though there's little dialog and not a lot of gore. There's only one swear word, but plenty of nudity, including male full-frontal, and a few scenes showing couples engaged in sex, though we don't see it in explicit detail.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 18+ year old Written byValdoria January 12, 2015

Art? What?

As an artist, i felt this might be an enjoyable piece but didn't realize it would turn actresses into prostitutes and basically emulate the raunchiness and... Continue reading
Adult Written byYeet_or_be_Yeeted November 29, 2018

why? its just bad

Look. This film is supposed to be one of those artsy things where they have an excuse to whip out some hateable dudes' ding dongs and show Scarlett Johanso... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byB-KMastah April 19, 2014

AMAZING.

Oh my God. I was always excited for this film, but this is just above and beyond what I could have imagined. This film is not for everyone because it's so... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEwokRock August 29, 2017

Pretty Good

As many know, this film has many scenes containing the leading lady Scarlett Johansson without much on. However, although her breasts are seen often, you can ha... Continue reading

What's the story?

This futuristic film, based on a novel of the same name, features a nameless woman (Scarlett Johansson) pillaging the clothing of a dead woman and driving the streets of Scotland in search of men to lure into her van. She seduces them with small talk and lures them to a house where they disrobe, seemingly to have intercourse, but end up meeting a much strange fate. Who is she? What is she all about?

Is it any good?

Jonathan Glazer, who co-wrote and directed UNDER THE SKIN, has found in Scarlett Johansson the perfect otherworldly woman to fill the main role. Her beauty, despite a frumpy wig and ill-fitting clothing here, is supernatural and Johansson is expressive and kinetic even as she seems removed and devoid of feeling. She does an excellent job bringing the role to life. The film is a stylized, ambitious production that deserves respect for trying to skirt the usual conventions of the thriller-horror genre while still telling a thrilling and horrific story. 

Nonetheless, it's lacking in character development and background. Who is this woman? Why does she do what she does? Who is the man on the motorcycle? It's not a sin to have mysteries remain a mystery in a film like this, but here the omissions feel like they are the consequences of superficiality, of style over substance, rather than a revolutionary form of storytelling. The film's mid-section is paunchy, and adds to the listlessness of the whole affair. But the score and the sound effects pick up the slack. Mostly it works, leaving audiences with jangled nerves. But when the music overrides everything else, and sometimes overwhelms, you know it's a problem that's bound to get under the audience's skin.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the techniques used in the movie. How does the film use dialogue, music, and imagery to tell the story?

  • The film has a lot of nudity, but lacks passion or even lewdness. Does the nudity serve the story? What would it have been like without any nudity?

Movie details

  • In theaters: April 4, 2014
  • On DVD or streaming: July 15, 2014
  • Cast: Scarlett Johansson
  • Director: Jonathan Glazer
  • Studio: A24
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Run time: 108 minutes
  • MPAA rating: R
  • MPAA explanation: graphic nudity, sexual content, some violence and language.

For kids who love sci-fi and thrills

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