WTF: Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin 02 (WTF Saint Pauly)

Under the Skin 01 poster (WTF Saint Pauly)

Spoiler Alert:

I shall be taking a penetrating shot at Under the Skin, scratching more than its surface to expose all of its layers in order to see if its beauty is in the eye of the beholder or only skin deep. So read on only if you’ve already seen Under the Skin, or don’t plan to.

NOTE: Under the Skin shows quit a lot of it, actually, so the following review contains images that are NSFW. Please stop reading if seeing people’s naked bits upsets you. You’ve been warned.

Under the Skin 02 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Scarlett is a gutsy actress

Synopsis

Under the Skin is the story of an alien (Scarlett Johansson) who inhabits a human woman’s skin. With the help of fellow aliens on motorcycles, she seduces men and brings them back to her house. Once there, her victims are swallowed by a black goo and their meat is sent back to the alien planet for food. After picking up a man disfigured by neurofibromatosis, the alien has a change of heart and sets him free. One of the motorcyclists chases him down and kills him, while Scarlett runs away and meets a gentle man in a rural village. After expirimenting with human food and sex, she hikes alone in a forest where a ranger attacks her. While tearing off her clothes, he tears her skin and reveals the alien beneath. Shocked, he douses her with petrol and sets her on fire.

[I referred to Wikipedia’s Under the Skin (Novel) and Under the Skin (film) for help]

Now you can sit back and enjoy my review in peace.

0:02:36 A white light that plays bad violin music is meant to represent what, an alien embryo? ET = Eggstra Terrestrial.

Under the Skin 03 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Miss Conception

0:03:41 The alien is learning how to speak, but it just sounds like Scarlett Johansson practising her alphabet.

0:04:23 An iris floating in milk. “I don’t like the look of this milk, Midge.”

0:6:42 A motorcyclist picks up a woman’s corpse that another alien used as a shell. The motorcyclist is an alien in a male’s body (been there done that, trust me).

0:07:14 Al K Hall nudity alert: A naked Scarlett Johansson is undressing the cadaver, in a room of white light. The only thing missing to make this intellectual is bad violin music.

Under the Skin 04 GIF (WTF Saint Pauly)

0:11:13 Scarlett Alien goes to a shopping centre. This explains a lot of the people I see there on Saturdays.

0:12:28 Now she’s in her van, window shopping for men in the street.

0:13:49 Looks as though she’s found one in her size and colour. Unfortunately, he’s no longer available.

0:17:04 She picks up an electrician with whom she ought to be able to hook up.

Under the Skin 05 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Driving a ‘pick-up’ truck

0:17:43 Now, later, she’s driving alone. No way of knowing what happened to the electrician, and whether or not they made a connection.

0:18:18 WTF!? Another rejection? Only in Scotland could Scarlett Johansson have so much difficulty bumping uglies.

0:20:44 Inside a totally black room with mirrored black floor, a new bloke gets naked (a little too hooligan for me, but nice buns) and walks into the black water that Scarlett is walking on top of. She’s a sort of Venus fly trap, luring men in and killing them.

Under the Skin 06 (WTF Saint Pauly)
“So, it’s spread from my balls?”

0:27:52 And the WTF!? abounds. A local woman jumps into the ocean wearing a heavy coat (the water must be cold) to rescue her dog. So the husband goes in after her. As does the handsome Czech bloke in a wet suit that Scarlett was chatting up. He brings the husband back to shore, but the husband returns to the sea for his wife. The Czech lad collapses in the surf so Scarlett can kill him with a rock and drag his corpse across the pebbles, in front of the baby that the man and wife abandoned on the beach in favour of their dog.

0:29:36 That night, the motorcycle alien swings by and picks up the Czech’s tent and ignores the crying infant alone on the beach. The motorcyclist walks away and the tyke stops crying long enough to shoot him a look of total WTF!?

Under the Skin 07 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Are you shitting me or am I?

0:33:42 Scarlett gets swept like white trash into a dance club where she lets a desperate lad in a shirt as cheap as his cologne chat her up.

0:34:22 Back to the black room where the local boy looks a lot better out of his cheap clothes as he walks into the black water wearing his hard-on, and not his sleeve.

0:37:43 Once in the black liquid, our chap’s insides are sucked out like oysters on the half shell, leaving his skin to float about like a scarf in the wind. This is absolutely one of the worst ways to lose an erection.

Under the Skin 08 GIF (WTF Saint Pauly)
Skinny

0:38:40 The innards are then sent on a sort of cosmic conveyor belt back to the home star. Disassembly line.

0:44:45 Motorcycle alien from the beginning gives Scarlett a literal once over as though deciding if she’s still good to ride, then leaves her without so much as a tune up or test drive. He pays special attention to her eyes, as that’s how he can verify she’s still an alien (see my note at 04:23). Turns out Under the Skin is The Host for intellectuals.

0:45:47 She falls to the pavement and looks as though she’s either breaking down or having one.

0:47:11 Her eyes go black, like like my soul watching Apartment 1303. This moment is when she first feels a touch human.

0:52:34 She picks up a beautifully disfigured man – Adam Pearson – and this exchange will be the most touching scene in the film.

0:58:11 WTF is that black skeletal beastie? Ah, it’s the alien in its natural form.

0:59:27 Al K Hall nudity alert. Scarlett Johansson is naked while the disfigured bloke (also naked) walks deeper and deeper into the black liquid. This entire sequence with Adam is really quite masterful.

Under the Skin 09 (WTF Saint Pauly)
From left to right: Beauty and the Beast

1:02:27 Instead of letting him die in the black muck like the others, Scarlett sets Adam free. In good consciousness. He walks out the back door of the house, and is now walking naked through the fields outside the city. Perhaps Scarlett is breaking out of her mould, like a Venus fly trap growing a heart.

1:03:54 Motorcycle alien goes to the back garden of the house where Adam is climbing through the fence. He throws Adam in the boot of a car he finds there and kills the poor lad. Maybe the old bird in the window of the neighbouring house can look after his motorcycle while he drives away with Adam’s body.

1:04:22 Beautiful scenery. In the book this is meant to show the difference between the alien’s planet and our pretty one.

Under the Skin 10 GIF (WTF Saint Pauly)

Isserley spends her spare time walking on the pebbled beach by her cottage, marveling at the beauty of Earth compared to her home world where most beings are forced to live and toil underground, and the wealthy Elite live on the surface, but still unable to tolerate being outside.

From the Wikipedia page, Under the Skin (novel)

1:07:59 Scarlett is at a small restaurant in the mountains looking like a runaway, which she is, as she’s run away from her home – planet.

1:08:55 She discovers how to eat people food, and not just people. Then she learns how to spit up her food on the plate. Have you ever seen anyone eat cake in super slow motion? Trust me, you know what you’re missing.

1:12:35 A good Samaritan bloke meets her on a bus, gives her his coat and takes her shopping for food, then back to his house where they watch telly in silence and then don’t sleep together. So, basically, they’re already married. [British comic Tommy Cooper is on the telly. TIL he died of a heart attack while performing on ‘live’ television. You’ll hate yourself if you verify this on YouTube.]

Under the Skin 11 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Rush hour in Dumfries

1:15:48 WTF!? He invites her there because on the bus she said she needed help, but he doesn’t ask her anything after that? Like why she doesn’t eat? Or why she doesn’t speak? Or how far does she go on the first date?

1:17:12 Al K Hall nudity alert. Scarlett Johansson standing naked, including her nether region (to develop pubic awareness), by the red light of a heater. This is one way to make her look hot to a gay man.

1:18:46 Motorcycle alien enlists the aid of two helpers to track down Scarlett. Three helmets are better than one.

1:21:04 An alien that’s afraid of heights. A lofty concept.

1:24:28 Scarlett lets her Samaritan get in touch with her: using his penis. She jumps to the edge of the bed in a panic when she experiences her first orgasm. Fortunately, most women will never know this problem.

Under the Skin 12 (WTF Saint Pauly)
There’s a hole in my theory

1:36:34 Scarlett hikes alone in the woods and decides to take a nap in a  bothy. While she’s asleep, a park ranger rubs her leg and causes her to awake with a start. She bolts into the forest, but he catches up with her. Then, as he’s ripping off her clothes to rape her, he accidentally tears off some of her skin, revealing her alien form. The rapist runs away, as he finds beauty is only skin deep.

Under the Skin 13 (WTF Saint Pauly)

1:40:10 She takes off her face like a mask…

Under the Skin 14 GIF (WTF Saint Pauly)
Because you need to look up to yourself

…before the rapist returns and sets her on fire with petrol.

1:42:28 She collapses in a pile of burnt alien as the snow falls.

Under the Skin 15 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Barbecuing the Alien’s spare ribs

Roll credits

Tally Ho’

  • WTF!?’s: Only 2 that got under my skin
  • When to Follow: When you hate those movies where things happen. Ideal for a Sunday morning hangover, complete with fap matter.
  • What To Feedback:

All GIFs used in this review were created with the Imgflip online meme generator

Left Over WTF (Way Too Funny) Photos

Under the Skin 16 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Brilliant acting
Under the Skin 17 (WTF Saint Pauly)
I’ll be the spider, you be the fly, and this will be our Web address
Under the Skin 18 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Will you give me a hand for dinner?
Under the Skin 19 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Can’t even act surprised
Under the Skin 20 (WTF Saint Pauly)
He’s excited about his part in the film
Under the Skin 21 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Literally prefers finger-food
Under the Skin 22 (WTF Saint Pauly)
“Mars? Shit, that was my stop!”
Under the Skin 23 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Got a piece of ass, literally
Under the Skin 24 (WTF Saint Pauly)
Rock-a-bye baby…

Prints suitable for reposting!

Under the Skin 25 meme (WTF Saint Pauly)

Under the Skin 26 meme (WTF Saint Pauly)

What to Follow Up

WTF!? review of another, better, intellectual film
Enemy 01 poster (WTF Watch the Film Saint Pauly)
WTF!? review of Enemy
Fernby Films: Captain America The Winter Soldier – For when you want to see Scarlett with clothes on!
Oh, Al! Booze Revooze of Captain America: The Winter Soldier

26 thoughts on “WTF: Under the Skin (2013)

  1. What in the fuck did I just watch? I told my gf at the beginning of the movie that Scarlett don’t make bad movies. I take that back.

    Like

    1. Hello Shell!

      Thank you so much for your visit and your comment. As for Scarlett, it just goes to show that no one is safe from some WTF!? in life.

      Come back again!

      WTF Shell (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  2. One of the best films of 2014. An absolute masterpiece, IMO. That said, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion and I still love your posts!

    PS – Also glad you referenced Chris Stuckmann in your Enemy post. Chris rocks.

    Like

    1. Hello John!

      How good of you to stop by and leave a comment. While it’s true I thought Under the Skin was more effort than it was worth, I always love hearing from readers who are passionate about their choices, and the fact you thought it a masterpiece means I have to look upon it with a little more generosity.

      As for Chris Stuckmann…I’m a strong believer in giving credit where it’s due. A writer myself, I draw a very clear line between inspiration and repeating, where the second fully merits a credit.

      Thanks once more, kind sir!

      WTF John (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  3. Haven’t seen it. Sounds kind of thin on plot but to watch Scarlett walk around for half a film nude? Can I say no? I can not.

    Like

    1. Minnesota Man!

      Thank you for the visit and the time spent commenting. There was a lot of story, it was just hidden beneath the art. As for Scarlett’s nudity…it might not be as pervasive as you might think.

      Let me know what you think of it should you see it!

      WTF Minnesota Man (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  4. I watched it because I heard she gets naked. I was not disappointed. The movie does have the pace of foot traffic at the post office. It took real effort to continue watching, expecting some sort of epiphany. Nakedness can salve the anemic plot just enough to prevent you from cancelling your streaming service for recommending this.

    Like

    1. Mariner!

      How nice of you to pay us a visit. I can imagine that if Ms Johansson’s nudity was the highlight of the film for you, then it’s nice you have two hands so one could operate the remote and fast forward through the boring bits! I do hope my commentary helped to fill in some of the blanks in the meantime.

      Thanks again for your visit and your comment. Do please come again, and often!

      WTF!? Mariner (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  5. Dear Saint Pauly,

    Your hilariously written, accurate synopsis of the film was amusing enough to make up for the nearly two hours of my life I’ll never get back! So glad I was bored enough during the movie to actually Google ‘WTF is up with Under the Skin’ and find your column. Looking forward to reading more from you! Thanks!

    Warm Regards,
    Melissa (not a saint-just a pedestrian)

    Like

    1. Hallo, no-so-pedestrian Melissa!

      What a darling comment! I’m relieved to hear my article served to distract you from the film and lift you out of the doldrums that is Under the Skin! I look forward to your future visits with relish.

      Have you seen any other WTF films recently?

      WTF!? Melissa (Watch The Film),

      Not-So-Saint Pauly

      Like

  6. okay, so i found this film on amazon prime after watching one of my repeat favs (Lost in Translation) there. This reminded me of another fav (2001 space odyssey) in pace (i.e. we don’t live our lives at hollywood quick-cuts breakneck speed) and most Ken Loach films in ‘real’ locations and characters.

    Will most likely read the book (see wiki) to fill in some of the gaps if necessary, but i do love a film that a) leaves me guessing and b) is still remnant days after watching it. Yes seeing SJ naked was a surprising plus, i actually thought her opening semi-silhouetted nude scene was a body double until her ‘electric heater’ scene.

    overall i enjoyed the film and would recommend it to anyone who likes 2001 (of which there are not enough) and comfortable with their own sexuality enough to not outwardly appear disgusted by seeing the odd dick or two (ditto).

    I found the most uncomfortable scene being that of the stranded/abandoned toddler near the crashing waves, but most likely through association in having a similar looking and aged child of my own. and who’s mother would apply an equally OOT amount of clothes layers too, no matter what the weather.

    Like

    1. Hallo Ulysses!

      Thank you so much for the comment! It’s always nice to have another intellectual here. 😉

      I see what you mean about the resemblance to 2001 and it’s true that, while I find the cinematography there is probably the best I’ve ever seen, the ending threw me until I’d read the book. While I love films that mage me think, I’m not that into films I need to research to understand.

      This one also reminded me of Enemy, which I found equally hard to access, yet which you may end up liking yourself if you haven’t already seen it. It’s visually playing and leaves the viewer with much to mull over at the end.

      Thank you for your visit, and I do hope you’ll come back soon!

      WTF Ulysses (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  7. Thank you for the review, but… it should be noted there were 4 motorcyclists not 3 (which is troubling to those who read the book because other than Isserly there was only one of the person who has been altered to take on human form) and in the sex scene with the good samaritan, she didn’t climax…she has no vagina, the skin suit is just that…skin deep.
    The only reason this movie was thought-provoking was due to how confusing it was. It was a poor adaptation of the book, which seems to be an admonishment against eating meat and asks the same question my most uppity vegetarians ask: who is the real animal here, predator or prey?
    None of the issues brought up in the book that made it so arresting were ever translated to the movie.
    It seems that Hollywood likes to buy the rights great stories just so when they twist it into a barely-recognizable movie, they will have 1) a recognizable title and 2) won’t be sued for stealing the barest premise of the story.
    If I didn’t KNOW this was based on the novel, I’d have difficulty piecing that together.

    Like

    1. Hallo B!

      Thank you so much for your insight! I’m thrilled to hear from someone who’s actually read the book, and to learn that the film is nothing like the oeuvre.

      I shall be amending my synopsis to reflect your correction concerning the number of motorcyclists; thank you for pointing out my oversight, and for doing it in such a tactful way.

      So, tell me, is the book worth reading?

      WTF!? B (Watch The Film),

      Saint Pauly

      Like

  8. Thank you for the,review, but… it shoukd be noted there were 4 motorcyclists not 3 (which is troubling to those who read the book because other than Isserly there was only one of the person who has been altered to take on human form) and in the sex scene with the good samaritan, she didn’t climax…she has no vagina, the skin suit is just that…skin deep.
    The only reason this movie was thought- provoking was due to how confusing it was. It was a poor adaptation of the book, which seems to be an admonishment against eating meat and asks the same question my most uppity vegetarians ask: who is the real animal here, predator or prey?
    None of the issues brought up in the book that made it so arresting were ever translated to the movie.
    It seems that Hollywood likes to buy the rights great stories just so when they twist it into a barely-recognizable movie, they will have 1) a recognizable title and 2) won’t be sued fir stealing the barest premise of the story.
    If I didn’t KNOW this was based on the novel, I’d have difficulty piecing that together.

    Like

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