UNDER THE SKIN REVIEW

Under-the-Skin-Poster

Under the skin? More like grating against my skin. What the hell did I just watch?

Now imagine Species. Replace Natasha Henstridge with the even more alluring Scarlett Johansson. Set it in a grittier, murkier Scottish backdrop and you have . . . something worse than Species. In fact just watch Species. Hell, even check out their dreadful sequels.

Now Scarlett Johansson plays a flirty alien that feasts on weak, shallow, lonely Scottish men. How could this be so bad? How can the man who brought us Sexy Beast produce this? (I mean he did do the oddly bizarre Birth. You know the one with Nicole Kidman and her husband whose reincarnated as a 10 year old? Yeah that one).

And breathe. I tried to find redeeming features in this drab affair and the points are few and far between. Director Jonathan Glazer creates a daunting experience that despite starting off harrowing, soon turns into a mind-numbing coma inducing journey with an unexpected if pathetic climax.

From the opening sequence, you knew what to expect. An incredibly drawn out and mind numbing scene opener that desperately attempted to be clever and artistic BUT just came off pretentious.

The light and orb like imagery to form an eye was a nice touch but ten minutes of Johansson mumbling with that irritating tinny noise drilling through your head? Not so much. It felt like Glazer was trying to outdo David Lynch and failing miserably.

The low budget Taxi Driver-esque hunting sequences were originally intriguing. Especially when Johansson entraps her first kill. BUT that soon got very repetitive. The killing sequences were the better moments of the film. Haunting and engaging in parts. The soundtrack was more a collection of noises BUT creepy ones that will stick with you.

The men she entraps makes for some darkly comical moments whether that was intentional is another matter. Once the feasting method is revealed, it’s pleasantly gory. The special effects are actually very good (When they are used).

However after a solid hour of Johansson vamping it up with her mangled posh English accent, I felt my eyes wandering to my watch. Apparently, most of the men that Johansson approaches were just normal, I say normal, fellas walking the streets. One major gripe. The trip scene. What was the point of that? She trips. Which Glazer decided to keep in the movie. I couldn’t understand the purpose. Other than for hilarious Internet memes.

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BUT for story and structure? Nothing. Her feeling of isolation, neglect and confusion was established very early on. There was no need for the endless blank faced staring at random objects or people over and over.

The only surprise turn after an hour was when Johansson’s characters picks on a man that suffers a similar condition to the Elephant Man. Credit where it’s due. It was an engrossing scene. But one good scene does not a good movie make. Look I try to find the good in movies. I want them to succeed but in terms of story and structure, there isn’t a lot.

Once ScarJo has got in the buff (Whey. Pack it up!), you feel as if they have run out of ideas. Done a kill scene. Uh, flash her body. Done a hunting sequence. Flash her va- various regions. Disappointing. It raised questions but didn’t really answer any.

I mean, what was the deal with the motorbike guy? He came across as a Reinfeld to ScarJo’s extraterrestrial Dracula. Without spoiling; the beach scene was a strange encounter. The longer the film went on, the thinner my patience got. I was bored.

An unexpected chase sequence through the forest made for a redeeming ten minutes with a crazy if incredibly disappointing finale. I can’t help but feel that if it wasn’t Johansson fronting this, this mess wouldn’t have even had a cinema release. And rightly so.

I respect Johansson for branching out and investing in indie projects again but this? She does what she can with the part. But my goodness. I mean it does stay under your skin merely as a reminder that I wasted almost two hours of my life.

Droll, drab, dark but drawn out. A definite Marmite film. Unfortunately I hate Marmite.

1.5/5 for me. Sorry ScarJo.

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