Movie review: Under the Skin (2014)

Under the Skin is by far one of the most bizarre movies I have seen. The movie is based on a novel of the same name, and I felt at a disadvantage for not having read the book. Perhaps the book provides more explanatory details about the plot. Perhaps not.

The movie is mostly devoid of dialogue. Set in Scotland, the scenery is stunning. Under the Skin centers on the experiences of an alien on earth. The alien has taken on the skin of a woman. On occasion, a fellow alien donning a motorcyclist persona appears to help.

She spends her time on earth stalking men and luring them back to her house, which seems to be some sort of portal. The bait is sex with her, but invariably as the two undress and the man walks towards her naked, the floor becomes a pool of liquid that he is stepping down into.

Midway through the movie, we see two of the men suspended underneath the floor in some sort of liquid. A previous victim reaches out to the latest one but quickly dissolves into nothing in the liquid.

It is never clear why the alien is stalking men or what is really happening to them in the liquid beneath the floor. The alien in woman’s drag ignores human females. It’s the males she wants and who are so easy to trap through sex, or more aptly, through the suggestion of sex.

Her downfall comes when the tables are reversed and she becomes the hunted. During the struggle of an attempted rape, her would-be rapist tears at her clothes, slashing her skin underneath. What is underneath the skin comes forth and as the alien sheds its human skin, the rapist douses the alien with gasoline and sets it on fire.

Under the Skin is an ethereal, and somewhat frustrating, sci-fi account of aliens walking among us, hunting us—or at least the male segment of the population.

The movie does raise questions about gender power. Tables are turned on males who have unconscious privilege and feelings of security. Eventually—inevitably—the societal upset in the gender power struggle is righted as males symbolically reassert their dominance over women through the killing of the alien.

While woman may have temporary power, their destruction is a given. Women return to being the hunted and men the hunter.

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