Review: Under The Skin
A star, a glowing orb, a space pod, a human eye. Frantic violin music reaches boiling point while a female voice utters human language for the first time. So begins Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, an adaptation of Michael Faber’s novel of the same name.
For reasons unknown a female alien is given the body of a young woman. In one of the first scenes we have two Scarlett Johanssons in a giant lightbox (such is the best way to describe this room, if it is in fact a room). One, the deceased human woman, the other, the alien who has replicated her body and is now dispassionately stripping her corpse. Once dressed in the woman’s clothes, the alien stops to ponder a tiny ant that has found its way on to the tip of her index finger. We get the impression that this is the first time she has seen anything living and what must be to her, alien.
A forever rain drenched Glasgow and the bleak Scottish countryside serve as a fitting backdrop for the film. She scours the streets for young men to seduce and kill. The method of “killing” is unique and truly mesmerising to watch. A second alien, in the guise of a male motorcyclist, supervises her work. One night she picks up a man that is not like the others and this sends the film in a new and unexpected direction.
Under the Skin is one of the most unique films you will see this year. Not since 2001: A Space Odyssey has a film about aliens been this cerebral and visually stunning. Make no mistake, as artfully directed as Under the Skin is, it is also deeply disturbing. Even when nothing bad is happening on screen we get a general sense of unease (exacerbated by the menacing soundtrack). In this regard it will appeal to horror fans as well as Sci-fi fans.
Like all good alien films it is ultimately a film about being human.