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Wednesday's Weekly Watch Movie Reviews: 'Under the Skin' (2013) by Jonathan Glazer

The Introduction

A24, an American production company, has built itself upon a reputation of picking up films with unique storytelling untraditional to the usual norms set by typical Hollywood blockbusters. One of A24's earliest productions, which helped the company earn their reputation, was 'Under the Skin', directed in 2013 by Jonathan Glazer. Similar to my last review, 'Under the Skin' is a sci-fi horror, playing on stereotypical tropes of the genre but adding its own unique twists.

The Review

The sci-fi horror genre is one that is often emulated but rarely perfected. And while I don't consider 'Under the Skin' to be a work of perfection, Glazer's dash cam footage style film wonderfully portrayed elements of the genre I had not yet seen before, mainly in the dichotomy between the film's two underlying themes; man's fear of women, and a woman's fear of herself and the power she holds over a man.

Credit: New York Post

The unnamed lead role, played by Scarlett Johansson, is an otherworldly alien disguised in the skin of a human whose purpose is to collect more human skin for her species. Johansson finds her victims by driving around in an unmarked van, picking up men who need rides, and inviting them back to her place. There, with the aid of some sort of incomprehensible alien technology, she steals their skin.

The portrayal of the power a beautiful woman holds of promiscuous and vulnerable men is somewhat glaringly obvious, and not something, at least in my experience, done in a sci-fi/horror genre before. After a few repeated cycles of this abduction process, Johansson has a quick change of heart when she meets a genuinely good man who takes care of her and offers her a place to stay. Johansson's character realizes the power she has over the man, and struggles with her initial purpose for being on earth, and her desire to experience what it is like to be human.

The Rating

Ultimately, the movie's underlying tones of sexual roles, gender identity, and social commentary separate the film from your standard sci-fi/horror, while also maintaining and interesting story at face value. While I think there are better A24 horror movies out there 'Under the Skin' still receives a solid 6.8 out of 10 from me.


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