Under the Skin (2013)

Jonathan Glazer directs Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy McWilliams and Adam Pearson in this British kitchen sink sci-fi art movie where an alien drives a van in and around Glasgow, hoping to pick up men using her attractive human guise.

I can spend thousands of words in these reviews name checking who brought it to a production or noting who hampered it. I find assigning blame and celebrating individual success the best way to catalogue a release’s merits and faults. So, for example, in this striking and often disturbing one-off it is easy to praise Glazer’s Kubrick-ian mastery, Mica Levi’s hauntingly otherworldly anti-score and Johansson’s bravely unguarded physical approach. Yet the person I want to namecheck the most is my friend, James Mason. As the one person who has a massive impact on how I absorb a cinematic trip is who I watch the film with. I know going to see a slasher, musical or Disney movie with my wife will be a heightened experience due to her enthusiasm for those particular forms. The pleasure of watching a Bond sequel with my boy Davey or the new Star Wars release with my niece and nephew or Jerry Maguire with my mum creates a frisson that elevate a film, focuses the creatives’ best intentions so that they leave a harder footprint on both viewers. Watching the right film with the right person is a life event, forever gilding those particular 120 minutes into your pantheon of beloved movies. James’ response to art, philosophy, body horror and the discombobulating mundaneness of the driving scenes MADE Under the Skin for me. I wouldn’t care about the film quite so much if hadn’t seen it with someone who wears simultaneously both a hard leather jacket and a soft cardigan underneath as a point of pride. Who engages with art with a tactile but educated understanding. I don’t think Under The Skin is a truly perfect movie; those full frontal nudity scenes are unnervingly sexless, it can be esoteric to the point of redundancy. But I first watched it with the right cinema buddy and therefore it means more to me than a five star entertainment.


Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog https://cornsyrup.co.uk

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here https://letterboxd.com/bobbycarroll/list/the-worst-movies-we-own-podcast-ranking-and/

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