What Lies Subepidermal – A review



That Scarlett Johansson, she’s so hot right now!

Under the Skin (2014) is a science fiction movie, starring Scarlett Johansson and set in Scotland (of all places). She plays an alien. The movie is about her, and why she’s on Earth isn’t really explained, unless you’re able to conjure up some inference from the “underwater” scene. This film is definitely in my top ten favorites of the last decade, and certainly top 3 in all science fiction. It seems to be very polarizing due to its style, which is very Kubrickian at times, both in feel and how it doesn’t explain everything because you aren’t entitled to know everything, so it’s understandable if some people don’t like it or don’t understand it. That said, you should watch it.

What I liked:

This movie is very engrossing. I watched this with noise cancelling headphones. I waited until it was dark so there’d be no glare on the computer screen. I went pee beforehand. I wore dark clothing so there’d be no reflection on the screen. Even if I hadn’t went to such geeky levels of fanatic preparation this film still would have made it difficult to turn off or turn away.

As stated above, this film shows its influence from Kubrick’s 2001. Especially in the beginning. I like Kubrick films a lot, my most favorite being 2001, so more than likely I’ll enjoy any film that is influenced heavily by it.

At times the feeling is tangible. I can think of two scenes (the man with Elephant Man’s syndrome and the baby with the sweater) where I actually had empathetic feelings (loneliness and dread/tragedy, respectively). It’s difficult for me to feel empathy or sympathy for movie characters, so movies that can do so are all right with me.

This movie is weird and I like weird movies.

We aren’t given all the answers. We don’t deserve all the answers. Who’s the biker dude? It ultimately doesn’t matter. You’re an adult, you can figure it out. Or you can make up your own story. It’s science fiction. This isn’t a pander-to-the-lowest-common-denominator film. The people who didn’t like this film probably didn’t like the ending in 2001, they probably didn’t like the briefcase from Pulp Fiction, they probably didn’t like the origami unicorn in the director’s cut of Blade Runner, they probably didn’t like the spinning top at the end of Inception.

There is little dialogue. I appreciate that.

In quite a lot of shots the shadows are pitch black, and I love darkness. There are also a lot of sulfur-yellow street light scenes. Also, cool shots. All around, cinematography was killer.

I dislike it when music is used as a filler between scenes, and instead appreciate it when movies use music as a motif that stays throughout the scene and recurs throughout the movie, as this movie did. Also the music was good.


What I disliked:

The beginning is a little too heavy handed in its Kubrekianism, but I’ll take it. The rest of the film felt unique to me.

And the winner for best foreign language film goes to………Under the Skin! Apparently some of the actors weren’t actually actors, just random people who then later signed non-disclosures. And apparently not everyone in Scotland speaks English. However, what they actually say isn’t relevant to the film story, so I’ll take it.

There wasn’t enough about the film that I disliked, so now my critique list is too short. What is this, 2001? I’ll take it.


Final verdict: 

I liked it. You should see it and decide for yourself whether you like it. I give this movie one de-sexualized Scarlett Johanson and one HAL9000.