Under the Skin is challenging to watch but those patient enough will discover a strange, sublime and mind-stirring art-horror film that explores what it’s like to be human.
An alien seductress (Scarlett Johansson) preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland.
Under the skin does exactly that, get under your skin.
An unnamed character played by Scarlett Johansson chats up Scottish males in the streets while driving a van asking for directions, but why is she also asking questions to ascertain if they are alone?
Things take a bizarre yet fascinating turn as the movie takes you from ordinary moments in Scotland to a room that mirrors the dark corners of space. You don’t really know what’s going on, but you do know that you’re watching something.
That something unravels itself bit by bit, with a haunting score and moody atmospheric visuals that tell you that there is something more.
Scarlett Johansson delivers a great and bold performance as the alien seductress with forced mannerisms and calculated gestures. Men are attracted to her good looks, receptiveness, and lack of personality.
The movie’s visually driven plot is ambiguous and can be interpreted in different ways. I daresay it makes us take a look at the human condition – identity and gender roles – and what drives us – fear, lust, pity and desire – through the eyes of an observer whose moral awakening turns into a self-discovery of sorts.
Under the Skin doesn’t provide any easy clues to point this out, so mainstream movie goers may find it frustrating or weird. It doesn’t offer any exposition, has little dialogue that its almost a silent film, and a character story that ends even before it begins. Without the imagery, it’s just a simple narrative on human awareness.
Still, Under the Skin exceptionally does what it set out do. It’s a haunting snapshot of what it’s like to be human without the cheesy sentimentality. This film could have easily been just another tale of seduction packaged for male – as they would like to think – “friend-zoned” nerds. Instead, it delivers an out of this world yet human experience and lets you take it as you will.
My Rating: 9/10
Alternative Movie Poster by Lauren O’Neill