''Mysterious Skin'' is a 2005 drama film (though produced in 2004) directed by Gregg Araki, who specializes in avant-garde films about homosexual relationships. It is [[FilmOfTheBook based on the novel of the same name]] by Scott Heim.

At eight years of age, Neil [=McCormick=] (portrayed by Chase Ellison as a boy and Creator/JosephGordonLevitt as a teen) discovers he is homosexual, developing an obsession with his mother's boyfriends and the men in her ''Playgirl'' magazines. He develops a crush on his baseball coach (Bill Sarge), who takes advantage and starts seducing him. One stormy night, an incident happens...

Several years later, Neil has grown up into a teen and has became a gay hustler. Meanwhile, another teen named Brian Lackey (George Webster as a boy and Brady Corbet as a teen) who is obsessed with [[AlienAbduction alien abduction conspiracy theories]] is trying to piece together his past. He cannot remember the events of several hours in his youth, and he assumes that during this time, aliens had abducted him.

The two eventually meet, and the horrible liberating truth about what happened in their childhood is revealed...

While the film was critically-acclaimed, it was extremely controversial for its child-molestation-related subject matter. MoralGuardians in Australia attempted to [[BannedInChina have it banned]], on the grounds that it could be used by real pedophiles to groom children. In order to protect the welfare of the child actors during the abuse scenes, Ellison and Webster had separate scripts from those of the rest of the cast, and were only asked to perform actions such as moving their hand up and down to mimic a handjob, which were then spliced with the other scenes to give the final appearance.

!!This film provides examples of:

* AlienAbduction: Brian is obsessed with it.
* AllGaysArePedophiles: The coach is, but plenty of other gay men are not. The movie also averts the related trope that being molested as a child makes you gay, as Neil mentions having been attracted to men before he even meets the coach (and the coach is able to molest Neil because Neil had a crush on him)
* {{Asexual}}: Brian is described as one but it's unclear whether he would still be repulsed by sex had [[spoiler:he not been raped/molested as a child.]]
* AwfulTruth: And ''how''.
* BittersweetEnding: Brian finally finds out the truth about his missing memories and inexplicable nosebleeds, and he and Neil may have started some sort of relationship by the end. But that truth is [[AwfulTruth as depressingly horrible as you can get]], and any healing they go through is a long way off.
* BreakTheCutie: Brian, ''so much.'' The first 20 minutes or so show how Neil was himself broken when he was 8
* CampGay: Eric has shades of this.
* ComingOutStory: Neil tells his at the beginning.
* DepravedHomosexual: The man who rapes older Neil, and also [[spoiler:the coach.]]
* FagHag: Wendy, Neil's best friend since he was 10 and she was 11. Neil himself notes that had he not been gay they probably would have gotten married and had kids together, and Wendy mentions to Eric that she had at one point been in love with him (and it's implied she might still be)
* FanDisservice: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is naked in several scenes, but none of them are really titillating.
* FilmOfTheBook: One of the rare good ones, both as a standalone film and compared to the book.
* HarmfulToMinors: While they react differently to it, it's pretty clear that the incident has ruined both their lives.
* KarmaHoudini: There is no mention what-so-ever of any justice served against the Coach for his actions.
* LonelyPianoPiece: "Samskeyti" by Sigur Ros, during the last scene.
* ManlyTears: Averted, which makes it much more powerful.
* OddFriendship: Brian and Avalyn, who commiserate over their shared alien abduction stories (until [[spoiler: she tries to have sex with him]], as well as Brian and Eric, who meet up and become friends when Brian's trying to learn about Eric's friend Neil.
* PornStache: The Coach has one.
* PromiscuityAfterRape: Neil becomes a gay hustler after being raped by his little league coach. Many of his johns resemble Neil's abuser.
* TheTwink: Neil.
* WhatNowEnding: [[spoiler:Following a reveal of what really happened to Brian when he was "abducted", the film promptly closes with carolers singing outside while Neil cradles Brian, leaving absolutely no closure on their broken lives.]]