Under the Skin is an unusual, surreal horror film directed by Jonathan Glazer and it features Scarlett Johansson in a surprising role, she plays an alien creature that disguises itself as an attractive female to seduce men and then kill them. The film also has elements of a road movie as the character travels around Scotland looking for prey. There seems to be some character development in the film as the alien starts to feel remorse about the crimes she has committed, it will be interesting to see what happens after the creature has this change of heart, can an alien really develop a conscience? The film is based on a book written by Michel Faber which was released in 2000.
This is an interesting role for Scarlett Johansson and she is playing a character unlike any she has played before, her character is like a succubus but also displays characteristics similar to a classic film noir femme fatale. The idea of an alien seducing men to kill them has been used before in films such as Lifeforce and Andrzej Żuławski’s Possession which handled it a bit differently. Horror films with this kind of main character are actually fairly uncommon these days which is a shame, movie studios usually prefers to dole out films with the same monsters over and over again as they are popular and crowd pleasing.
The trailer is dark, disturbing and very surreal as it avoids giving anyway too many plot details and relies on imagery to give the viewer clues about the narrative. Some of the images shown are rather creepy including a few shots of naked men who have been seduced by the alien suspended in a murky black void, these men move in a manner which suggests they may be underwater and drowning in the blackness. Under the Skin looks like a film that is less about plot or narrative and more about ideas, mood and arresting imagery, this approach is interesting and the style of the movie resembles the early work of David Lynch. It’s difficult to make a movie like that work though as the film has to avoid being too obscure for its own good, if a film is too inaccessible it ceases to be a movie at all and could easily lose its audience, hopefully Under the Skin will not fall into that trap.
The score used in the trailer is also very creepy but subtle which complements the imagery on screen very well. It’s actually a fairly action-packed trailer full of events and images that linger in the mind after it has ended. The trailer does a great job at intriguing the viewer with haunting imagery and a creepy score.
If the feature film is strong enough to leave a lasting impression like the trailer does then Under the Skin may turn out to be an excellent film. The movie has all the right elements for a weird horror and it certainly stands out from a market crowded with cookie cutter films that are quickly forgotten once the viewer leaves the cinema. Scarlett Johansson’s role could also boost her appeal as an actress and remind viewers of how versatile she can be provided she can deliver a good performance.
Under the Skin doesn’t have a UK release date yet so keep an eye out for it. Check out the trailer and share your thoughts.