Review: Under the Skin is a strange one

You know a movie leaves quite the impression when you can barely think of the words to describe it, and Jonathan Glazer’s brooding sci-fi slow burn, Under the Skin, did exactly that by the time the credits begin to tick across the screen. While the film is gorgeously shot and successfully weaves an unsettling atmosphere throughout its narrative, Under the Skin also features a whole lot of nothing. The film centers on an alien in human form preying upon the population of Scotland. It’s a simple plot for a simple movie and despite the fact that it’s truly an unsettling experience, I was just too bored to care.

There’s certainly a deeper meaning lying under the layers of Glazer’s creeping indie feature, it’s just too bad the journey itself leaves a lot to be desired. Much of the film’s running time is spent in a dimly lit van with a confused looking Scarlett Johansson behind the wheel as she picks up random guys off the side of the road to feed on. Johansson’s character hardly speaks a word in the entire film which plays to its strengths in that it leaves a weird otherworldly tension to it. The problem, however, is that the lack of dialog coupled with the film’s nonexistent plot really makes this one hard to follow. And once the smallest shred of a plot decides to peek its head over the horizon the film is already coming to a close.

It’s a frustrating movie to sit through (it was for me anyway) because you’re waiting and waiting for something to happen and it just never does. The most interesting part of the film itself is when she lures her prey into this room filled with darkness, and as the men follow her into the room they slowly descend into a black mass of liquid where their bodies dissolve into nothingness. It’s quite cool, really, even though they never explain exactly how it works. Other than that, though, don’t expect to see a whole lot. At least not until the film’s last few final frames, which I will say are utterly jaw dropping. But despite how great of a finish Under the Skin has, the journey getting there was just too empty and felt like a chore to sit through more than anything else.

It’s really a strange little film that will no doubt split its audience because there’s certainly a lot in this movie to enjoy if you have the patience and are willing to do a little digging. I, however, just didn’t get it I suppose. I wanted to love this movie, I really did, but in the end it was all just too slow and repetitive for me to fully dive into it. Aliens, man, they be crazy.

2/5

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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

10 thoughts on “Review: Under the Skin is a strange one

  1. Ooooo…a negative review, how interesting ;). I love this film, but I definitely see where you’re coming from. It’s quite the entrancing, provocative little flick that requires a lot of thinking and waiting. Excellent post!

    1. Thanks, man! I actually almost re-watched the film before I wrote this because I saw nothing but positive reviews and thought that maybe I missed something. It sucks when you’re in the minority on a movie like this; makes you feel like you just didn’t ‘get it’.

  2. I have heard the movie was terrible from one blogger, and quite good from another, so I am not sure what to think and for that reason alone I am intrigued with watching this one. I don’t mind a slow movie if there’s a payoff at the end, like “The Others”. I enjoy a good slow-burn, especially ones that make you think – so this one could be really good to me – or really bad as you expressed. I hope we disagree on this one, man. I plan to watch within the next week or two and will revisit and let you know what I think.

    1. Sounds good, Gary! It’s very VERY slow and has a ridiculously cool finish, so you might dig it. I love slow burns but my issue with this film is that there’s no driving force during its slow moments. No good dialog, no action, nothing worth watching really. It’s just taking up meaningless time until the last 20 minutes or so. Interested to see what you think. I’m definitely one of the very few who didn’t like it.

  3. Hey Ryan, hope things are well with you dude. Been looking for someone else who has the same thoughts as me on this. I wrote myself that I didn’t ‘get it’ as so many people seem to heap praise on it. Like you I felt it was slow and a little boring. But man do a lot of people love this?!

    1. Hey! Always nice to see you around these parts, man! Hope all is good over there for you as well.

      I felt the exact same way when I walked away from this one. With all that buzz I thought something was actually going to, you know, happen…

      I almost considered watching it again to see if I missed something, but my god that movie is much too boring to sit through again. The last 15 minutes or so are great, though, so there’s that. haha.

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