Under the Skin
What parents need to know
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.
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.
Families can talk 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?