I never thought I’d see the day where Scarlett Johansson would enter ‘our realm’ and do a movie that had anything to do with horror or science fiction. Sure, big name actors have done horror and/or sci-fi before, but it is usually early in their career before things really have taken off for them. At this point, however, Johansson is a household name and certainly isn’t desperate to do a film like this just to get her some notoriety. While her upcoming film, Lucy, looks more like an action movie with a science fiction twist, Under the Skin is a creepy-as-hell artistic take on the sci-fi genre.
In Under the Skin, Johansson plays an alien being who stalks the streets of Scotland, luring men to her quarters, where she seduces them and they are consumed. As she spends more and more time in her new form, she starts to experience what it is really like to be a human being, both physically and emotionally.
This is one of the strangest movies I’ve seen in recent years. For the first 45 minutes, its slow pace had me pondering whether I would even finish watching the film all the way through or just turn it off and never watch it again. I can say now that I am glad that I stuck with it. The pacing really never does pick up, but that’s okay because it suits this type of film perfectly. There is hardly any dialogue and, honestly, the dialogue that is present really doesn’t hold much weight to it. The script is minimal, but it doesn’t seem to hinder at all what director, Jonathan Glazer, was trying to do with his film.
We are taken on what seems to be a rather mundane journey for this being, as all she does is drive around looking for men. She tempts them with her beauty, brings them home, and has her black gooey floor consume them whole. This same sequence repeats numerous times, until she begins to form a more human thought pattern, causing her to let one of her captives free, unlike the rest of the ‘flies that she has trapped.’
Scarlett Johansson’s performance is truly incredible. At first, one might think that it mustn’t be very hard for her to just look sexy and show no true emotion as an alien forcing men to jump in her van. There is more than meets the eye here, however. There were some moments with her onscreen alone that truly made me feel uncomfortable. A feat that is certainly hard to accomplish, normally. As she discovers more and more about her human female body, she tries to understand what it’s like to be a real person, encountering a friendly gentleman who genuinely tries to help her and a not-so-friendly gentleman who tries very hard to harm her.
The end of the movie was both shocking and lovely. I had no idea how things would end for Under the Skin, but I was pleasantly surprised once I finally arrived at its climax. The entire thing was beautifully shot and managed to keep me enveloped in its strangeness even after my thoughts of turning the film off.
If you are a fan of science fiction films that are a bit bizarre and artistic, give Under the Skin a chance. You can purchase the film on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment today.
I give this film 3 deformed strangers out of 5.