Under The Skin is a 2013 feature, directed by Jonathan Glazer, starring Scarlett Johansson. This film was originally billed as a sci-fi movie about an invasion by extraterrestrials, which is certainly the reason I (and the rest of America) ignored it at release. I caught it last night on one of the streaming services, and it is nothing like the tedious space alien faggotry we all hate.
The movie opens with an undefinable sequence of light and geometry. It might be a spaceship or an MRI machine. Micha Levi’s score evokes some hybrid of John Cage and industrial machinery. An unintelligible narration alludes to a female who is practicing elocution, trying to sound out simple English words. The scene fades into something a bit more sinister. A motorcyclist stops on a highway, and its driver bounds down a hill toward a culvert, shortly to return with a limp, lifeless female body, which he, unexplainably, places into a large white van, parked in the breakdown lane nearby.
A female figure assumes the form of the dead woman. The female, wearing the dead chick’s skin, then goes out shopping, tarting up her new body with clothes and makeup. This unnamed wimminz (Johansson) proceeds to drive around Scotland, picking up random men, luring them to her scroungy little council flat, with the promises of fucking.
In the film, as in life, the protagonist never forces her male victims to their demise. She backs through her front door, unbuttoning her blouse, and they follow, drooling as they fumble with their zippers. As she backs further down a long hallway, with a blank expression, in the process of disrobing, her victims slowly, voluntarily, submerge themselves in a preservative oil.
There in this strange, silent abbatoir, the sacrificial victim meets his predecessor. Who is he? We don’t know. The wimminz’ ex-husband is my guess.
One can apparently breathe in the oil, but he’s immobile and mute. The victim meets the previous male companion of the femme fatale only briefly, and he is shown bloated and lethargic in the solution. Mere seconds elapse before he is pulled, forcibly, out of his skin, and his body is processed into foodstuff. The captured male, now horrified, jerks and thrashes in silence. We get the sense that he is now being fattened up for the day when the object of his affection repeats the process with a new victim. We don’t know when harvest-time comes, but as the protagonist leaves her house to search out new dick, we’re sure it’s on its way.
There are a number of allusions to the psychoanalytic tradition in this movie. Immolation as wish fulfillment… Deep water as the unconscious… This is an obvious hat-tip to Carl Jung. At one point, one opfer asks his mistress if he’s dreaming, as he takes that long walk into the void. “Yes,” she replies. “We both are…”
This is a very strange film that asks more questions than it answers. I enjoyed it, if only because of its obvious similarities to our contemporary culture, in which a series of expendable men sacrifice their lives, fortunes and selves for the same skank-ho wimminz.
In life, as in art, we must always be careful when the hot chick asks for directions. Think carefully before you get into the car with the next slut that bats her eyelashes. Always remember that other men have been on this ride before you. In your own participation, you’re volunteering to end up in the same straits as they.