Under The Skin is about the scariest damned thing I've seen in a long time, and it achieves it without a single blood stain, jump scare or hockey mask. It is also an astonishingly beautiful presentation of an incredibly ugly story; a World in which horny men are prayed on by ruthless Aliens and sucked into inscrutable death contraptions.
The film tells its story exclusively through dazzling visuals, without a single word of verbal exposition. Skin
expects its audience to figure out what is going on through inference alone. In that sense, it runs a risk of becoming self indulgent and needlessly obtuse (a la 2001: A Space Odyssey
), however it never quite crosses that line. Ultimately, there is a discernible story of one alien's discovery of humanity. The pace is slow - definitely too slow for some - and I'm reminded a lot of No Country For Old Men
in terms of its fondness for gazing at landscape, its occasional brute nihilism, its slow burn story telling and most of all, its focus on the perspective on a ruthless outsider who defies scrutiny. Scarlett Johansson makes one hell of an Anton Chigurh.
There is also a heavy dose of sexual politics, and a heavier promotion for vegetarianism. Sci-fi like this, along with War of the Worlds
and The Matrix
, brings back my pangs of carnivorous guilt. Seeing mankind sent off to the slaughter house is almost enough to make me skip my next bacon sandwich. Almost
I could easily recommend Under the Skin
on the visuals alone. Or on the horror alone. Or on the themes alone. Or the acting tour de force. Watch it for all of these things.