Under the Skin
Under the Skin is a weird movie to be sure. Its also an oddly compelling one. The premise is pretty much like Species; an alien under disguise as a female human seduces victims. But that doesn’t at all prepare you for what kind of movie this is. What we actually get is a more contemplative look at a view of the human race from a visitor’s perspective. This movie is more about mood and atmosphere, which are meticulously crafted.
This movie is not for everyone. It sounds like a thriller, and though there are thrilling aspects when she lures her victims, its not really. There’s little dialogue as well, which may frustrate some. And there’s not much of an explanation as to her purpose (though in the second half of the movie, her personal motivations become apparent). We assume she’s an alien creature of some kind, but to be honest when I saw her in her fur coat, within the background of the Scottish isles, my mind went to the mythological Selkies. And upon further research on imdb after the movie, it appears that selkies were indeed an influence.
Somehow, I didn’t feel frustrated by Under the Skin, though I should of. But the movie ended up luring me in, much like one of her victims. The tone was haunting and evoked a compulsion to keep watching. There’s a scene where we see inside her pool of mystery which is particularly disturbing. The photography was great, especially when mixed with the oddly mixed sound production. We would have long shots of her walking through a Scottish town hearing nothing but her footsteps a lot of the time.
Scarlett Johanssen is great in the lead role, managing to hit just the right notes of someone pretending to be human, but not having the emotional pitfalls of humanity. For example, when she lures in a man with a deformed face, she doesn’t even notice he is different than any of the others at any point. She also captures the curiosity of a stranger to our planet very well.
If you are okay with slower paced movies whose themes are “under the skin” so to speak, than this is certainly an interesting watch.