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.