It has taken me quite a bit of time to finally catch up to this film. Despite my love for the horrific and the macabre, I am a prude when it comes to the overly-sexualized material of our fair genre. I don't care for it when it is gratuitously strewn about as a means to cheaply attract a target market consisting of horny males from the ages of 17 to 27. Now of course Under the Skin is no such film meant for such a crowd, despite its content. It is more arthouse than anything, though its horror influence is most certainly present.
Under the Skin follows an inhuman female as she seduces and lures men back to her home, where she proceeds to capture them and presumably "feed" on them. Its minimal dialogue, subtle dramatic cues, and psychedelic visuals force the viewer to pay close attention for character, motive, and plot. But in the end, the film gives you the right dose of everything to tell a very intriguing and dark tale.
Under the Skin reminded me of many things, none of which, I am convinced, were intentional homage. Its soundtrack, with its high notes drawn out and 80's-esque synthesizing, reminded me of some kind of mixture between Isolation and It Follows. The abstract visuals reminded me of 2001: A Space Odyssey, or, to be more relatable, Altered States. The finale led me to believe that the entirety of the film was an intro to a 90's Tool music video.
The subtlety, slow pace, and abstract perspective makes this film an acquired taste while going through the first viewing. It focuses all of its energy on atmosphere and developing an uneasiness for the viewer. Scarlett Johansson's performance could be considered akin to Ryan Gosling from Drive (if you were in a satirical mood), in that both did a great job of acting by showing emotion in the most minor of action.
The arthouse feel of the visuals and soundtrack were tiresome at times, despite my appreciation for the overall originality of the visualization of the alien "technology". Upon the film's conclusion, I felt there was room for few more darlings to be killed by the director to cut back on the combination of slow pacing and a runtime flirting with two hours. The seemingly apparent parallels with the effects of prostitution on the psyche made the film all the more impactful, however I've been wrong before on such metaphors, but it seemed to fit when viewing the film through this lens.
Despite its slow pace and minimalistic approach, Under the Skin has the ability to get under yours.