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Under the Skin: Artsy, SCI FI Cinema

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Under the Skin

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2001-like visuals and avant-garde soundtrack set the tone for this stylish SCI FI movie mainly set in Scotland so if you’ve come for witty banter and deep dialogue you won’t get it in this film. What you will get with Under the Skin is an unfolding mystery as you skate down a dark path with a dark character in disguise as a human and the consequences of her brutal and ruthless actions.
The film begins with an eye and an alien voice reciting words in order to learn language. The nameless being, played brilliantly by Scarlet Johansson, is convincing as a hunter and wanderer seeking male prey via roadside travel. Her first scene shows her pilfering female attire from a dead body along one of those same dark and eerie roadsides which sets the tone for the darkness and otherworldly wonder of this film directed by Jonathan Glazer.
The big questions are why this alien is seeking human males in the first place. The reason is not terribly clear which makes watching one of the voluntary abductions scenes suspenseful and cinematic in a twisted cat and mouse game fashion. I say voluntary because the men agree to a ride and something more. What they get when they walk into Johansson’s abode is an endless vacuum of darkness. The victims walk willingly into a liquid pool where they are trapped and then they seem to dissipate into a genetic pool of some kind. Is this a pure alien agenda to obtain DNA? If so, is the alien going to use it for more than just growing skin? And could there be some more sinister message in this movie about the plotting of the New World Order? Is the alien’s faux apartment some kind of inter-dimensional portal? And if so, can the alien return whence she came?
As the movie progresses it seems Johansson wants to abandon her mission. She loses her speech, becomes sympathetic to a disfigured man and also tries cake to her disgust. It also seems the alien is being hunted for her disobedience. She runs into a large wooded area to escape where she finds her human appearance is only a shell and unable to result in human coitus.
Another walk in the woods finds her as the victim of rape but it’s the attacker who discovers she does not possess human genitalia underneath her human guise. As disturbing as her mission is her decimation when she’s lit on fire like garbage from her rapist. When she burns, does her essence or soul return to her world? Is she the same as us even though her physiology differs? If so, then the movie’s message may be that we all have hidden appearances and agendas under our skin.

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