June 29, 2014

VOD Review: Under the Skin (2014)

After seeing Enemy earlier this year, we were pretty sure that there wouldn't be another genre movie in 2014 that was as odd, artistic, bewildering, and engaging as it was.

Having now seen Under the Skin, we can say with confidence that it would be perfect as a double feature with Enemy. Not on acid though. The human brain could not handle those movies on acid.

This is a really, really different kind of movie. It's so different in fact, that we almost feel like it was more of an experiment than it was a fictional film. In some ways, it was.

We liked Under the Skin for what it was, and for what it did, but there are going to be a lot of people who do not like this movie, and we completely understand why.

Oh yeah, and Scarlett Johansson is naked in this one. Like, fully.

It's really difficult to break down the plot of this movie, mainly because its narrative isn't exactly linear, but also because it would be too spoilery to do so.

Scarlett Johansson's nameless character drives around Scotland, picking up men and luring them back to her lair (which has a liquid floor), where they are basically turned into food. Along the way, she encounters some nice guys, some average guys, some dickheads, a baby, a dude with neurofibromatosis, a gang of chavs, cake, and a cabin in the woods.

The movie ends with its title being explained in the middle of a beautiful snowfall.

I don't honestly know how to best describe this movie to those of you who have yet to see it. If we were sitting at a table together and I was charged with dong this verbally, I imagine there would be long instances of silence that ended with me saying something to the effect of "I don't know, man, you just have to see it."

It's a quiet movie. It's an eerie movie. It's surreal and it's nuanced. It's gorgeous too look at; from the Scottish locations to the way shots are blocked, Under the Skin really is visually stunning. It's a bit sexy, but most of the sexiness is killed by the dreary and even creepy atmosphere of the whole thing.

Under the Skin is many things, but most if all it is different.

Gorgeous and relaxing.
Many of the movie's scenes and performances were real. For instance, all of the men who approached Scarlett in her van were real people, unawares that they were being filmed or involved in a movie in any way. The nightclub scene was all filmed via hidden camera, as was the scene where Scarlett's character fell in the street, and people were helping her up.

Finding all of this this out after seeing the movie definitely gave it another layer of coolness in our eyes, because we had no clue while watching. No wonder it felt so real and authentic, because in many places, it actually was.

Google "Scarlett Johansson falling," click on the images tab, and enjoy the laughs.
Scarlett Johansson was great in this movie, playing things about as minimalistic as an actor can. Most of her acting involved physicality as opposed to words, and she carried her scenes off really well. It was Adam Pearson though who was the true revelation in this one. The first time actor suffers from neurofibromatosis, which leaves his face noticeably malformed/deformed, and in all honesty, it looks as if he's wearing a mask. *I include this info because I truly think that many people who see this movie will believe it to be a prosthetic, and it isn't.

I thought it was both fantastic that he was cast for a role in this movie, and that his scene with Scarlett was mostly improvised. Good for him, and hopefully he sees more good fortune coming his way in the future as a result of his work in this film.

The mysterious Motorcycle Boy.
The music in the movie deserves mention, as it is really unsettling, reminding us of 70's Horror movie scores that we're heavy on strings and shrill crescendos. As it is in most films, the music here is a character of its own, and it adds a special level of depth to the proceedings. We're pretty sure that the score allowed us to enjoy the movie more than we would have with different music. It was that impressive.

Overall, Under the Skin made for one unique experience. So if unique is your thing, then you're in luck.

Scarlett, don't just stare at it. Eat it.
It's fair to say that not much happens in this movie. Of course things happen, but none of it really leads anywhere, or serves much of a purpose other than to give us a glimpse into the routines of two "people" going about their nasty business over the course of a few days.

We enjoyed this movie on an artistic level, but as far as it having a compelling story to go along with the gorgeous visuals, chilling score, and hazy atmosphere, it just doesn't deliver all that much.

Being that Under the Skin is based on a novel, I suppose we could go and read it to discover the answers that the movie never gave us, but we shouldn't have to, should we? 

What in the hell is going on here?
The most disturbing scene in the whole movie may be where Scarlett Johansson's character is on a rocky beach, where she proceeds to bash a guy's head in with a rock, right in front of a crying toddler. Then, she leaves the kid sitting alone on the beach, screaming its head off. Later that night, her partner returns to the beach where the baby is still terrified and screaming bloody murder, and you start thinking "maybe they are going to help the kid after all!" but no, the guy grabs something else that had been left behind, and leaves the kids there... alone, at night, on a bunch of rocks, terrified and vulnerable.

Who does that to an innocent little baby!

It's safe to say that he is floored by Scarlett's beauty. Zing!
People are sucked out of their skin, their skin left floating around in liquid; people are liquefied and turned into food; people are bashed in the heads with rocks; skin is peeled; there's an attempted rape... Under the Skin is not very gory, but it is fairly disturbing with its content..

What is this I don't even.
At long last we get to see Scarlett Johansson naked. We have to admit, that it wasn't quite as titillating as we had imagined it would be, but then again, isn't that usually the case? Also, there are a lot of Scottish penis' in this movie.

The lesbian scene that never was.
Scarlett Johansson is actually a good actress. Also, the book is always better.

"The Spirit was complete shite, love. You know it was."
This movie is not going to be for everyone. Hell, it might not even be for most people, but in a way, we found it to be mostly for us. Would we watch this one again? Maybe. Probably. I don't know, maybe it's nothing we'd clamor to see again, but we're still glad that we got to experience it at last once, because an experience is exactly what Under the Skin is.

If you're looking for something quiet, odd, beautiful, and a bit disturbing in an offbeat way, then you should give this one a rent. *We'd definitely recommend that you rent it before buying it on Blu-ray or DVD though.


Under the Skin is available now on VOD, and will hit Blu-ray & DVD on July 15th.


Scarlett Johansson has yet to lower herself to star in a Horror movie (most likely because she thinks she's too good for our favorite genre), so we will gladly take this chance to show off her sexy gorgeousness. *That may not actually be a word, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't mean something!



  1. I started watching this at 2 AM, just wanting to sample maybe the first 30 min and watch the rest on the next day. I couldn't turn it off - very unusual, very artistic and quite unique. A completely captivating film. Oh yeah, the score is fantastic.

    Scarlett in the nude might be somewhat underwhelming, though. She doesn't have that perfectly toned Hollywood body in this one. Which is perfectlty fitting with her role and the film. So it's all good.

  2. Which nudity was better: ScarJo here or Daddario in True Detective, that's what we want to know?

  3. Daddario, with no question whatsoever.