Under The Skin

Posted in Reviews by - April 25, 2015
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Under The Skin

“As indecipherable as the Scottish accent.”

There are numerous avenues in which a movie can find an audience. Instant classics will enviably stand tall through stellar acting, writing and directing – think Goodfellas. Others will rise through the ranks with the help of word of mouth and Internet buzz – like our new guilty pleasure, John Wick. And then there are movies that get the attention of the world through less admirable means – The Interview. Yeah, if anyone actually believed that North Korea had anything to do with that hack then they have rocks in their heads! But rants aside, a movie that features the full frontal debut from an attractive A-list celebrity will also undoubtedly set tongues wagging. Yes, boobies! Let’s face it, that’s the only, erm, two reasons, we’d even heard of Scarlett Johansson’s low-budget offering ‘Under The Skin’. Yeah, we know that sounds juvenile but we’re being completely honest. So with that admission out of the way, is Under The Skin more than a low-budget skin-flick? At the thought of losing ninety minutes of our lives, we’re hoping so.

Under The Skin is the story of a mysterious woman (Scarlett Johansson), who seduces lonely Scottish men in the evening hours. But events soon lead her to begin a process of self-discovery.

First things first, let’s open with this bold statement: Under The Skin is undoubtedly THE most polarising movie that we’ve ever reviewed on YouSeenThat. Folks are either going to love it or they’re going to hate it. There is no middle ground. So with that admission cast into the ether, you’ve probably already taken the opportunity to glance at our score and surmised that we fell into the latter camp. Okay, ‘hated’ is a strong term. It was more the fact that we found Under The Skin utterly pointless and devoid of anything that passed as entertainment. Yes, we’re fully aware that not all ‘art’ needs a point. We’re even aware that not all art has to be entertaining – there’s nothing wrong with a little navel-gazing – but if there was a point to Under The Skin, we’re afraid that we missed it.

We missed it, completely.

Under The Skin was sold to audiences as a fresh, bold take on the sci-fi genre… but having spent ninety minutes in this world, we weren’t convinced. In a nutshell, Scarlett’s character is an alien sent to Earth to do, well, something. She’s not literally ‘in a nutshell’, but hey, that might have made this a damn sight more entertaining. Regardless, the ‘something’ that Scarlett has been sent to Earth to do seems to involve picking-up barely intelligible Scottish men off of the street in some sort of reverse Bang Bus scenario – culminating in her luring these chavs into a bukkake sex pool of goo. Why? We can only assume it’s to harvest their bodily nutrients. 

pic01_00054Eh, that’s hardly a fresh or bold take on the genre. If memory serves, the equally stunning Natasha Henstridge partook in a similar caper in Species, except she actually went so far as to throw in the horizontal rumba for our viewing pleasure. Hell, this theme has been done to death since the dawn of cinema, and let’s be honest, even a B-grade flick from 1995 like Species was more entertaining than this effort. We won’t lie to you – luring Scottish lads to their deaths like it’s a Frankie Boyle snuff film – that’s pretty much two-thirds of the movie. Throw in a random encounter with ‘The Bad Man’ (eh, awesome name), some grocery shopping, and a bit of a jog through the woods and that’s the totality of Under The Skin. Sorry to spoil anything there but it’s like watching paint dry.

Oh, and then there’s the aforementioned boobs.

That’s the only reason we stayed with Under The Skin: to see what Black Window was packing in her top. Jugs… orbs… gourds… Elmer Fudds… bouncing Buddhas… sweater stretchers. Boobs. Sure, that’s embarrassing to admit but if it wasn’t for Scarlett getting the twins out at semi-regular intervals, well, we would have lunged for the Stop button by the half-way point. Sad but true. It’s akin to that Australian movie ‘Sirens’ in which Elle MacPherson and Ellen’s missus decide to get their gear off and frolic in a lake – few people will be watching Under The Skin for the story – or lack thereof. That’s the reality: the only folks who even know this movie exists are red-blooded males in the 16-40 year old demographic with an internet connection, a heartbeat and a working organ.

But even Scarlett’s assets won’t be enough to hold their interest.

Okay, okay. So we didn’t like it… but that doesn’t meant we weren’t willing to seek the opinions of those who did – we decided to hit-up Google in an effort to understand what we ‘missed’. For what it’s worth we uncovered a lot of praise for Under The Skin… hell, even Roger Ebert put it in his top movies of 2014. Truth be told, Under The Skin made numerous top ten lists. So what did we miss? Director Jonathan Glazer’s earlier work, Sexy Beast, rates as one of our favourite movies – if only for Ben Kingsley’s character Don Logan. But Under The Skin? Sure, it looked good and there was some solid in-car cinematography at play, but just about everything else was a complete misfire – including a lot of philosophical exploration that all these critics raved over. Okay, we get that Scarlett’s character explores aspects of being human, especially that of a female. We understand: all men are sex-crazed rapists who’d probably shag a snake if someone would hold its mouth open. Men are bad, okay. The very fact we have a character called ‘The Bad Man’ is almost some nod to Germaine Greer and her feminist ilk. But in all seriousness, Under The Skin didn’t appeal to us on any intellectual level. If we needed another reminder that the human race has gone to pot, we simply need open a newspaper…

See? We didn’t get it, at all.

pic02_00054To admit that we didn’t ‘get’ a movie, especially one that has been built-up as some sort of thematic and intellectual feast, falsely or otherwise, is a tough admission. You might even say that it’s intellectually emasculating. But at the end of the day we’re not going to give a movie glowing reviews just because other people are – a viewer shouldn’t need to immediately jump onto their Internet search engine of choice to find out what they they’ve just watched… or more importantly, why they’ve just watched it.

We can only pray that the novel Under The Skin is based on is better.

Honestly, it’s difficult to find a lot of positives. The cinematography looked stunning and really showcased the beauty of Scotland. Oh, and Scarlett looked, eh, rather nice. Heck, we can’t even compliment her acting since she was basically playing an emotionless, one-dimensional alien that was about as charismatic as Arnie in the Terminator movies. If we ever get the pleasure to meet Scarlett, we’d really love to ask her what in the world possessed her to take on this movie.

All the deep-fried Mars Bars she could eat?

Overall, Under The Skin is one of those polarizing offerings that you will either love or hate… and in turn, ‘get’ or ‘not get’. If you consider Scarlett Johansson leading Scottish gits to their deaths in a pool of black goo is appealing and intellectually stimulating, then this movie might be right up your alley. Sadly, it wasn’t up ours.


The A.D.D. Version:

Under The Skin is one of those polarizing offerings that you will either love or hate… and in turn, ‘get’ or ‘not get’. If you consider Scarlett Johansson leading Scottish gits to their deaths in a pool of black goo is appealing and intellectually stimulating, then this movie might be right up your alley. Sadly, it wasn’t up ours.


Random Observations:

  • We should move to Scotland and get abducted.
  • Needed more deep-fried Mars Bars.
  • Something something boobs.
  • We lost interest before we could find four interesting things.
  • Meh.


See This Film If You Like:

  • Species
  • Splice
  • E.T.
  • Aliens
  • A Frankie Boyle comedy special


 The YouSeenThat.Com Popcorn Rating:

Why, Scarlett? Why?



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