• Studio: A24
  • Release Date: Apr 4, 2014
User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 99 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 68 out of 99
  2. Negative: 22 out of 99

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  1. Apr 19, 2014
    10
    Oh my God. I was always excited for this film, but this is just above and beyond what I could have imagined. This film is not for everyone because it's so incredibly arthouse, but I honestly think that if people talked about the film, they'd see it in a new light.

    Virtually nothing here is meant to be taken literally; it's extremely symbolic. It's an allegorical trip that is haunting,
    intriguing, sublime, gorgeous, sad, different, strange, human, spellbinding, unforgettable, and masterful, utilizing all of these qualities that convey what it means to be a human. What is also is about, though, is reveling in the questions and finding answers.

    The cinematography is immaculate and the sound design is incredible. The score is mesmerizing and perfectly complements the visuals and tone of the film, with its strings and screechy sounds crossing into the realm of being sound effects at some points, and that's great because like the film, it brings together all senses and experiences into one odd package. Scarlett Johansson is intoxicating, doing so much with so little dialogue. She uses her eyes and facial expressions and callousness-turned-fake-charm so well, and you forget that you're watching an actress work because it's so immersive and shockingly realistic.

    I can see why some people would dislike this film because it is very alienating (no pun intended) and probably as far from mainstream as you can get, but it's also so engrossing. This is a film that gives no explanations and doesn't really have much of a setup that leads into a conflict that sets the movie into action in a traditional sense. It works wonderfully because the movie itself feeds off of our abilities - as humans - to interpret emotions and read other individuals. The movie even seems to be watching you back at times.

    Jonathan Glazer demonstrates that he has such a huge talent but also a great deal of discipline in order to make everything work. In the hands of another director, everything would have crumbled into pieces, but because it's so well-made, he makes connections between humanity and sexuality, objectification and death, and, to a certain extent, gender roles.

    The ending (without spoiling anything) both satisfies and leaves ample room for interpretation, and is very affecting. There is a good amount of emotion to this film, and it's just so commendable that a film like this could be so human and realistic. I can definitely see the comparisons to Kubrick (my favorite director ever) and I could compare this film to Eraserhead and 2001: A Space Odyssey, and partially to Eyes Wide Shut.

    This is a movie that I will never be able to forgot, and I know for a fact that I'll be thinking about it obsessively for a very long time. This may be one of my favorite films ever.

    9.7/10, masterful, two thumbs up, miles above average, etc.
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  2. Jul 4, 2014
    10
    Under the Skin is a masterpiece; brilliantly directed by Jonathan Glazer and with Scarlett Johansson at her finest - the film is beautiful, entertaining, fun, disturbing, haunting and incredibly memorable. With a smart screenplay, great acting and a stellar production, Under the Skin is a film destined to bury itself into the mind of its viewers. One of the best films of the year thus far.
  3. May 10, 2014
    10
    There is absolutely no shame in not understanding this movie completely. But giving a low review score simply because of that fact is really a shame. This movie is visually outstanding, and I had just so much fun being able to engage with the non-linear story that didn't spoonfeed itself to me. Whoever thinks that Scarlett Johansson is a lightweight simply needs to see this film. The scene on the beach? One of the most chilling sequences I've ever seen in a film. Expand
  4. Apr 6, 2014
    9
    This film blows away the term "Cliche" and Glazers direction is top notch. It's a film you have to examine and think about, that has depth and purity. Moreover at times very scary and suspenseful. Johansson is brilliant.
  5. Apr 7, 2014
    10
    A bonafide masterpiece, and I do not say such a thing lightly. The juxtaposition of Scarlett Johansson's haunting beauty and masterful performance in the titular role, set against the bleak Scottish landscape and the intolerable ease unto which she coaxes her prey, culminate in a film that chills to the absolute core. It's pacing deliberately ramps up the tension and this coupled with an unbearably horrifying score left me on an absolute knife edge. As many have stated, it is indebted to Roeg, Kubrick e.t.c. but not in an obvious postmodern, heart-on-sleeve approach; as much as it borrows Glazer innovates. It is shot beautifully, it's pacing is sheer frustrating perfection and it has seriously gotten under my skin. It's a long time since a film has effected me in such a way, and it has left me thinking about it for days and even now weeks after viewing. I, for one, consider this to be one of the best "science-fiction" films to have ever been produced. An agonising, terrifying but unmistakably beautiful film. Let me make this clear, this is a paradigm-shift for "science fiction" cinema. Brilliant filmmaking. Collapse
  6. Apr 24, 2014
    10
    See this movie, worth every penny !! Fun to watch, and leaves you thinking way after the movie is over....With so many boring movies out there, this is one you have to see. See this in the movie theater , as the big screen really intensifies the surreal scenery.
  7. May 15, 2014
    10
    Anyone wanting simple-minded, run-of-the-mill shallow plot and celebrity action will be disappointed. But if you appreciate a challenge, a visual masterpiece, with fascinating loose ends that will keep you thinking long after you see it ..... then this is for you. Suspend your need to analyze and understand everything, and let your imagination soar. This could become one of the true cult films, to join Blade Runner, 2001, and Alien, but with deeper and darker places to haunt you. There are THREE main stars: Johansen of course, in a role that expands her repertoir admirably, the Scottish wet/damp 'noir' background, and the mysteriously occult part of the story which will indeed work its way under your skin and remain with you especially when you cannot sleep late on a rany night. Expand
  8. Jun 28, 2014
    10
    i was pulled in from the opening sequence. visually stunning. the scoring of this film was perfect: eerie, weird, and unsettling. scarlett johansson was perfection. the amount of control she had was mesmerizing. this was art.
  9. Apr 5, 2014
    10
    Did this director forget we had watched Aliens 1, 2, 3, and so on plus Nymphomaniac Vol 1 & 2. Scarlett didn't had opportunity to show her SKIN in CA:TWS, so they made a 'SPECIAL' movie for her named UNDER SCARLETT's SKIN.
  10. Jul 13, 2014
    10
    I'm astonished. This movie is literally like nothing I've ever seen. Scarlett Johansson gives a performance like nothing she's ever done. While it's not considered one, this is one of the greatest horror movies that I've ever scene. I've never had nightmares about a movie or T.V. show I've watched since I was eight years old. But the best thing in this movie is by far the music. I didn't even know you could make music like this. Under the Skin is an instant classic. See it. Now. NOW! Expand
  11. Jun 27, 2014
    9
    Like Welles’ The War of the Worlds and other iconic science fiction entertainment offerings – from films like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Matrix to TV shows like Star Trek and Doctor Who - Under the Skin is a seminal entry in the genre. Like those iconic entries, this film sets a new standard of excellence in the genre. And like those iconic entries, this film will be talked about for decades to come. Expand
  12. Jun 26, 2014
    10
    What a remarkable film. Unconventional to the extremes and plays on our human emotions with such deeply disturbing visuals, not to mention the incredible score and soundscapes. This movie is unforgettable and is a very important step in modern expressionism within the parameters of film.
    A movie this bold is obviously not everyone's cup of tea... but i'm excited to see where Jonathan
    Glazer will go from here.
    Also, props to Scarlett's incredible performance.
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  13. Jul 4, 2014
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I took mom to see Under The Skin yesterday. Aside from the explicit sexual themes, disturbing imagery and nearly wordless plot progression, bringing mom was a good idea. After all, she’s into a good sci fi flic, likes Scarlet Johansson, and she enjoys wrestling the kind of difficult, challenging ideas put forth in this film. Plus the promise of gorgeous views of the Scottish countryside really paid off, which was perhaps what mom liked most.
    What mom didn’t like were actually the things I did. This film allegorically describes and criticizes male and female relations, focusing on how women are driven to treat men brutally. The film is a visual metaphor, criticizing ruthless femininity, oppressive institutional forces, sex and beauty as power, as well as the restoration of femininity and our humanity.
    This film’s ideas and plot are moved along almost entirely without dialogue. It might be tough for some viewers to follow this story told through images, but I’m sure it’s even more challenging to tell a tale in this way. This film, however, does this almost flawlessly and one feels led by capable hands in this regard. Many of the scenes not only move the overt story forward efficiently, but also engage the audience to consider the films sub -text, which revolves around issues of gender relations in our society. The story and characters are therefore a means by which to discuss these difficult matters, things which people rarely talk about. Its lack of dialogue might almost be viewed as saying, “social discourse rarely touches on such things…” This film, then is the best kind of sci- fi, because its ideas are relevant for our use today, and is commenting on important human themes.
    The film opens with an unknown man stopping his motorcycle in night, walking down to beach and retrieving a lifeless female body. He deposits it into a van, and in the following scene, Scarlett’s character is seen assuming the identity of this lifeless woman by removing the body’s clothes. This turns out to be symbolic of removal of the body’s skin as well, because we find out that Scarlett’s character is an Extra Terrestrial, who uses the guise- and skin- of a beautiful young woman to do her job. Her object on earth? Seduce single, young men from the open window of her van, in the night , bring them back to her abode, coax them to follow her across the magical, mirror-like, watery floor of her bedroom until these men are submerged and disappear. Once the victim is submerged, she puts her clothes back on and goes back to work.. Three men into this ritual, we see the awful fate of the victims: their insides are sucked out from them, leaving only the skin, with their innards shipped off to somewhere….
    This horror, we come to discover, are guided at least in part by the crotch- rocket man. His influence is not fully understood until the beautiful female ET accidently picks up an ugly man to bring to his doom. Upon receiving the ugly man, however, the spell of ruthlessness and murder is broken, because she feels the humanity of this character. She has compassion for him. Unlike the others she seduced, who were out partying and having fun, this man is walking at night to buy groceries, simply hoping to avoid the hateful judgment of others. Though he is grossly deformed, she comments on how nice his hands are and the man begins to weep. Ruthless devotion to her intent is destroyed by this man’s innocence, ugliness and humanity. Coaxed to the watery pit, she frees him suddenly. Thus begins her journey to restoration.
    Because she spares this man from her deadly pursuit, the crotch rocket man now chases her. She cannot be allowed to stop being ruthless, let alone pity someone who is ugly and outcast from the brutal game of beauty and power. She must not find her own, and others’ humanity. She escapes into the beautiful Scottish country, and the wild interior of her own nature. She is taken in by a kind man who makes her dinner and invites her into his home. They go for a walk, and one beautiful image is of this man carrying the ET across a large puddle, evoking the haunted, watery mirror which she used to destroy the men she met in the past. They go back to his house and they eat. Upstairs, he kisses her and they begin to have sex. When her hymen breaks, she recoils, unprepared for the pain and vulnerability of her humanity. Fleeing, she takes refuge in a cabin in the forest. After being lulled to sleep by the endless span of nature, like a baby in a womb, she awakens suddenly, remembering the peril she is in because of the crotch -rocket man. Running, she finds an empty logging truck, tries to steal it but is seen by its driver, who chases and then attempts to rape her. Through this assault, her shell is ripped and the man staggers back, horrified by the sight of her true inside. He runs off and as she walks away, the rest of her false skin falls off. Now the ET is fully revealed: Dark, feminine, beautiful, strange…unspeakable. As she looks down and comes to see this part of herself, the trucker has returned and murders her. Her wild, interior nature is certainly not allowed to live…only devotion to the brutal game of falseness and exteriority can survive. She is left a smoking char in the snow after being burnt alive.
    This last sequence of events demonstrates the power of the allegorical nature of this film. The idea that women are driven- through male-dominated, institutional forces- to carelessly seduce and even to destroy men is difficult and nearly unspeakable. Scarletts’ ET is initiated into a state of compassion, humanity and the interiority of her being, the one thing that cannot survive.
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  14. Jul 17, 2014
    9
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. I'm glad Peter Bradshaw (a critic I've sometimes found irritating) gave this 5 stars in The Guardian. It's a remarkable film. Though I don't think it's particularly scary, it is certainly disturbing and has that claustrophobic quality of nightmare, both sluggish and speeded-up at the same time. It reminded me of The Man Who Fell to Earth but is, I think, much more interesting. To quote Bradshaw's review:

    "Between encounters, she roams, gazing at streetscapes, and making them alien with that gaze – like a Craig Raine poem. At one stage, she and her van are surrounded by guys with Celtic scarves. She is the ultimate Rangers supporter."

    Nice to see Raine get a nod, though I don't know if I completely agree with the comparison. One of the intentions of 'Martian' poetry was to render the ordinary exotic and strange (a kind of embossment of what most good poems usually do). In a way, the first part of Under The Skin does just the opposite. The alien gaze flattens and greys out everything, making street-scenes, etc. look even more boringly flat and grey (perhaps Glazer's main reason for choosing Glasgow). And it's the relentless accumulation of such scenes, and they way they contrast with other aspects of the film, that alerts one to the fact that the artlessness is quite deliberate (if you're disposed to attaching labels, 'postmodern' will do very nicely).

    Also, I'm very surprised Bradshaw's review didn't mention one of the most compelling things about Glazer's film, his use of guerilla camerawork and 'casting': the encounters between Johansson's alien and the random men she chats up is given a generous dollop of reality because they were being filmed secretly and had no idea they were taking part in a sci-fi movie. Each one had to be (literally) chased down after the scene so that he could sign the release form. Apparently about half of them refused, including one poor guy who understandably took fright at being pursued down a backstreet by some looney waving a piece of paper. Maybe that's part of what Bradshaw meant when he said 'the film comes with a dog-whistle of absurdist humour', though I would have thought that most people were by now aware of this aspect of the film (one of its selling points as far as I'm concerned).

    I had some quibbles, mostly regarding the initial impressions of the alien's lair with its tarry, carnivorous floor. It seemed too slick and pop-video for my taste, but be patient; it does, rather horrifically, redeem itself later.

    Plot-wise, not a whole lot happens and the story, such as it is, is pretty grim. As The Blair Witch Project divided audiences, slicing a clean line between those who loved or hated it, so will Under The Skin. But there wasn't much need to hunt for vein in my case. It got right in there.
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Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 3 out of 42
  1. 63
    All this is initially fascinating, and then progressively less so. The problem is the usual serial-killer issue – things, no matter how weird and kinky, get repetitive.
  2. Reviewed by: Steven Rea
    Apr 18, 2014
    88
    A deeply creepy and mysterious noir.
  3. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Apr 18, 2014
    80
    Under the Skin is, in short, a film that does just that: gets under one's skin, shining a light on what it means to be human -- even if what we end up seeing is something less than comforting.