Under the Skin is a film based, very loosely, on the sci-fi novel of the same name by Michel Faber. Jonathan Glazer has taken the bare bones of the story. An alien comes to earth to seek out some juicy men to feed on but soon finds herself on a journey of self-discovery.
It’s been described as a sci-fi horror which it is, the film is deeply unsettling and tragic in some cases but there are no real scares as such, nothing to make you jump it’s the unknown that provides the unease you feel while watching it.
The score is by Mica Levi and it’s stunning. The music used in the ‘seduction/death scenes is a wonderfully creepy piece of music that I’ve had stuck in my head all morning. The piece is a recurring theme for each of the moments when Scarlett Johansson brings an unwitting victim to her lair. I was reminded of “come into my parlour, said the spider to the fly” as I watched each death.
Under the Skin is all about the visual, the cinematography is absolutely stunning from the moment the film starts right the way through to the end. It’s also worth noting that the men Johansson’s alien talks to when driving her van through Glasgow weren’t actors (aside from Adam Pearson, the man with neurofibromatosis who plays a pivotal role in starting Johansson’s journey into self discovery.)
The men approached by Johansson were filmed using hidden cameras with director Glazer saying the men were “talked through what extremes they would have to go to if they agreed to take part in the film once they understood what we were doing.” This was a great tactic for the film, the realism really works against the more surreal sci-fi elements.
I’ll be honest I thought he beginning was brilliant but I do think its missing something when Johansson goes rogue, leaves her van and starts wandering around the misty mountains of Scotland. Surely this should be the most interesting part of the film but for me it lacked something but it picks up speed again towards the end of the film and I was back to being on the edge of my seat for what I feel was a very powerful ending.