Laura (Scarlett Johansson – Avengers Assemble) is an alien being who has arrived in Scotland tasked with a very particular mission. Using her sexuality, she patrols the streets across the country, preying on the unsuspecting men she encounters. Some manage to resist her charms but those that succumb to her bewitching guise soon realise that there is no way back for them.
An unrecognisable performance from the stunning Scarlett Johansson gives Jonathan Glazer’s effective sci-fi thriller the upper hand. She distances herself from all of the glamour and glitz we usually associate with her to hand in a performance of remarkable confidence and guile. As one of the most recognisable and beautiful actresses in the world today, it makes her job that much harder in Under The Skin, yet she manages to captivate and seduce you in a way that feels completely unique.
This offbeat story keeps a steady dread tapping on your head throughout. The imposing soundtrack adds great effect but this is a visual treat first and foremost – and one that leaves a telling mark on the psyche. Certain situations evoke the biggest audience reaction. Once the men are lured away by Laura, we are greeted with minimalist but utterly dread-filled situations detailing just what happens to them. It’s haunting, as is the beach sequence involving a surfer and a family on vacation.
This is a movie that electrifies the senses. Sometimes the silence is deafening and at other times the aforementioned soundtrack assaults your brain with unbalanced and imposing scores. This makes the whole viewing experience uncomfortable in the best possible way. This uneasiness adds so much depth to the story which, truth be told, is actually quite simplistic. The end of the film perhaps sways a little too far from the track in terms of situation and vagueness but the acting and the stunning visual-effects really come into their own here.
Bleak, terrifying and completely captivating, Under The Skin proves that even Hollywood’s golden girl can scare the hell out of you when required. With a telling style and many memorable sequences that will linger forever, Under The Skin is exactly what left-field science fiction should be all about.