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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 April 2016
This is highly peculiar movie - concerning aliens, abduction, and self-sacrifice. While I did enjoy the film, I found it both disturbing and, at times, very unpleasant to watch. Nonetheless, if you like tales that are strange, weird and wonderful ... and not so straightforward as to be fully understandable in a single viewing ... then you may enjoy this film.

It's loosely based on a novel of the same title, by Michel Faber. The plot concerns a female alien who comes to Earth, arriving in Scotland, and takes on the appearance of a beautiful and sexy young woman (Scarlett Johansson). She's tasked with seducing and luring lone men to a derelict house, in which they fall prey to a trap - being caught in some sort of liquid dimensional rift - and where they're slowly dissolved (while still alive) from the inside out ... and then, as goop, their remains are sent off to some other world (presumably to be consumed).

This femme fatale realises that what she's doing is wrong. And she starts to acquire a genuine interest in - and possibly a liking for - the Earth and humankind. So she decides to cease her activities and run off ... resulting in some male aliens trying to track her down.

It's a very bleak tale. There's no humour, and little or no joy, in this movie. It succeeds in portraying a picture of 'us' (people) as alien, as seen from the protagonist's perspective. We are "the Other" - and such a depiction can be disturbing.

It's well acted all round. There is some nudity, and brief moments of sex (including a rape scene). So this is not a kids film. I suspect that, over time, this movie will gain an audience that appreciates its dark qualities.
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An 'Alien-Being' assumes the human form of a female victim, a temptress to
lure in human prey for harvest.
She combs the streets and highways in 'Scotland' in her search of unsuspecting
males luring them into an out of this World dimension where her victims are
sunk into a substance almost certainly for further attention from her kind.
She'll only approach prospective victims if alone.
She carries out her tasks with great efficiency and without emotion or conscience.
She has a minder that watches over her, clearing up any loose ends she may leave
lying around.
Being in and around humans and liking what she see's in a mirror she begins to
see herself in a different light.
The consequences of her confusion in trying to embrace human behaviour can
only really end badly.
Because she has side-stepped her purpose and has failed to be where she is
supposed to be, her 'minder' goes in search for the stray.
An interesting concept which works well in the main, perhaps losing it's way now
and then, not enough to trouble you too much.
'Scarlett Johansson' gives a seductive and mesmerising performance as the 'Alien'
Temptress.
Bonus Features -
* Behind the scenes interviews on -
* Camera - Casting - Editing - Locations - Music - Poster Design - Production Design
- Script - Sound - VFX.
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This is undoubtedly one of the strangest films I have ever seen. It is a low-budget, low-key, high-concept SF film which imagines alien beings visiting earth in secret in order to acquire what they need. The film is quiet, slow, matter-of-fact and so ordinary that at times it almost feels like a documentary. It has the tone of Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell To Earth, the pace of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey and the predatory narrative of Roger Donaldson’s Species. Scarlett Johansson’s performance as the mock-human alien is just outstanding. The film is visually stunning with absorbing imagery, an eerie foreboding soundtrack and some deeply disturbing incidents. There is no doubt that this is a film open to multiple interpretations and will not appeal to everybody. However, I was totally mesmerised from the start and will definitely be revisiting it in the future.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 July 2014
I am writing this directly after viewing Under The Skin. Wondering what I am going to write. I will resist reference to other movies, this one is an original piece. A haunting collaboration between vision and sound and narrative and story.

Vision and sound are the main players. Don't watch this on a hand held device. Plasma at least or, as in my case, screen projection. In a small room surrounded by speakers. Forget popcorn.

It is a collage of affects. Yes, affects not effects. Mesmerising. Scintillating in darkness. Shrill music. Irrelevant conversations. Desire on the prowl. The halo effect of a beautiful person is being thoroughly abused. Intellectually profound. Like Tescos in the night.
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on 1 April 2014
Under The Skin

Imagine that you condensed the plot of a novel down to a single sentence.

Now ignore half of that sentence and make a film of the result.

This seems to have part of the ten year creative process in turning Michel Faber’s novel into Jonathan Glazer’s film.

The resulting film is both haunting and beautiful, contrasting the grit and reality of Glasgow with the isolated emptiness of the Scottish countryside and a clinical hyper-stylised ‘alien’ lair.

The lair scenes and the opening sequence, especially, are reminiscent of Kubrick’s interpretation of Arthur C Clarke’s ‘2001’ whilst the overall feeling is similar to David Bowie’s ‘The Man Who Fell To Earth’, the awkward outsider who struggles to understand this human world.

Whilst much has been made of the use of real people as victims it’s Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of the seductress, Laura, hunting down lonely men for unspeakable reasons that will stay with the viewer, her understated beauty and unease perfect for the character of Laura but so different from the novel’s awkward, surgically deformed protagonist Isserley.

Book and film stand apart, and the good news is that experiencing neither would affect the enjoyment of the other so different are the storylines but I can’t help thinking that the film lacked a lot in explanation although it more than made up for this with style.

If anything the book is probably darker than the film condemning everything from big business to factory farming and exploring the idea of class through an alien culture. The film touches on none of these themes and the viewer could easily be left wondering what it was all about.

Undoubtedly a masterpiece of the cinematic art, thought provoking and disturbing, ‘Under The Skin’ won’t trouble any box office charts but it will become a cult favourite.

If you’re intrigued enough by the film reading the book would explain a lot, just don’t expect to recognise too much of the story between it’s pages.
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on 12 June 2016
An intriguing premise for a sci-fi film and it nearly works. I will watch it again and try and be in the right mind-set because I think it is more like an adult comic than it is a film. It is an allegorical piece and perhaps should we watched with that in mind. It was full of atmosphere and the grim Scottish weather helped. I will have to read the book, but I guess the impression that one is supposed to pick up is that life is quite empty for everybody. In a way Scarlett Johansson's character is the most honest and the price she eventually pays is because she tries to be too human. .
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on 4 January 2016
Based loosely on the excellent sci-fi/horror novel written by Michael Faber about an 'otherwordly' lady picking up male hitchhikers in a remote part of Scotland to sinister ends, the film version is much more of a mixed bag.

The novel explores issues of gender, class, race, how we view other species, how we view nature, sex, alienation, environmentalism, all while also being a cracking page turner.

The film on the other hand is denuded of virtually all plot and the viewer is left with.... eerie music, intermittent disorientating visual sequences and what is basically art-house sci-fi that delivers visually (it is shot beautifully) but delivers no punch emotionally (unlike the novel) with its card-board cut out characters who the viewer can feel no connection with.

Worst of all, its boring, I couldnt wait for it all to end. It is understandable that the film version of the novel would need to be different from the novel but unfortunately I dont think this works.
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VINE VOICEon 7 August 2014
This is one of those films where I am struggling to give it a star rating. On one hand it could be a 2 star film, but easily it could be a 4 star film. It may even be a 5 star film. I’ve never experienced a film so haunting, so simple but so surreal and thoughtful in its narrative and cinematography that it becomes engrossing and uncomfortable to watch at the same time.

Scarlett Johansson simply carries the film (much like Tom Hardy did recently in another character driven film ‘Locke’), and you can’t take your eyes off her. She has little dialogue and conveys her emotion via her physical appearance. She is an actress capable of entertaining masses in action blockbusters or dreamy rom-coms but proving her also a grounded understanding of what it means to strip away the excess of Hollywood escapism and portray one of the most complex, realistic-cum-fantastical and haunting characters in her career to date. Her natural beauty is also something you can’t fail to admire, and that plays to her strength as a seductive being out for more sinister goals. She takes us on an emotional journey through a range of emotions and ultimately we can’t fail to finally warm to her, feel compassion for her and understand her.

Saying that, the supporting cast of largely unknown UK faces (bar possibly pro motorcyclist Jeremy McWilliams) add to the look and feel of this film greatly, giving it lots of authenticity. It plays out almost like a fly-on-the-wall documentary on the streets of Scotland, with improvised dialogue between the actors and Johansson for a very natural process of seduction. They are brave actors who take on full frontal nudity in nightmarish situations and they help make Johansson’s character all the more mysterious as the fish out of water in Scotland.

It’s a very beautiful film to watch with long, lingering shots across Scotland using everything from the natural surroundings of the coastlines and dense forests to the heavy rain and thick fog across the Highlands. I hate the term “arty” describing film, but I guess this is what ‘Under The Skin’ really is; an art film. It plays out like a visual interpretation of the human psyche and a dreamy world we live in, fuelled by the mystery surrounding Johansson and McWilliams and their relationship. Extreme close-ups, pulled back sweeping shots, high and low angles all help add to the intrusive, semi-erotic and at times voyeuristic feel to this film. We linger on shots of naked bodies, plump lips, curvaceous hips and smokey eyes, all tinged with a sense of that predatory allure that entices us in as the audience as much as the men adoring Johansson’s semi-naked body before them.

Aided by a sparse but very effective soundtrack that serves as a very un-nerving and tense companion to the uncertainty of the scenes played out, this may be difficult to watch in places where the very things that would make us human are taken away before our very eyes in brutal moments that shows the detachment of Johansson’s character to the rest of humanity. The scene on the beach a third in was one of the most harrowing and uncomfortable sequences I’ve seen on film for a very, very long time and it moved me like nothing else has before in film; it was real, it was upsetting and it was horrific. And there was nothing I could do about it except watch though watery eyes. The finale is also tragic to see, not saying what happens or involving who, but it will leave you feeling helpless and seeking a reassuring conversation or hug from someone close to you to remind yourself you’re not alone out there in that big, wide scary world.

While not to everyone’s taste for what they may expect with a marketed sci-fi film starting The Black Widow herself, full of action, sex, fantastical elements and coarse language, it’s not. It’s totally the opposite. Everything here is tastefully done, steadily paced and lots of elements are lingered on; never rushed. This needs to have your full attention and your mind open to everything and anything. The plot is very simple when you get under the skin (thank you) of the film itself, it is just presented in a very clever, beautiful and haunting way that is totally unique and not comparable to anything else I’ve seen recently.

Writing this, it's a 4 star review I think. It needs another viewing to take it all in again, and it's impossible to compare this to other 4-star reviews I've made, or 5-star reviews that may not be "better" to others. This is a 4-star review of one film alone - 'Under The Skin' with no comparison to anything else out there. It's impossible to compare it.
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on 18 January 2016
One of the reasons you may be interested in this movie is because you have read the book, like me. The producers are careful to note 'based on the book', so they make no promise of sticking to it. But,while I found the book enchanting, intriguing, and captivating, the movie was way too abstract for my taste. The interesting bits and pieces are never fleshed out and the movie ends as a great disappointment.
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on 18 June 2016
Nothing like seeing your home town in a film, even if it was only for a few moments. The acting performances were truly horrific in the greatest way. Really is creepy and make your skin crawl and shiver. The best thing is no jump scares or gore in the slightest but still manages to keep up the tension and mild horror. A must see!
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