Under the Skin

  • Studio:
  • Release Date:
Under the Skin Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 350 Ratings

Your Score
0 out of 10
Rate this:
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
  • Starring:
  • Summary: An alien seductress (Scarlett Johansson) preys upon hitchhikers in Scotland.


Please enter your birth date to continue:
You are not allowed to view this material at this time.
Autoplay: On | Off

Where To Watch

Stream On
Stream On
Stream On
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 33 out of 42
  2. Negative: 3 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Richard Roeper
    Apr 10, 2014
    Weird. Brilliant. Stunning. Under the Skin is by far the most memorable movie of the first few months of 2014.
  2. Reviewed by: Ed Gonzalez
    Mar 28, 2014
    Throughout, what truly matters to director Jonathan Glazer is articulating through visual and aural enticement the unconscious power of our death drive.
  3. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Apr 17, 2014
    There's something fairly malignant in the way Glazer's strange movie holds attention, against the urge to give up and leave. There is no doubting its boundless artistry or pretension, a dangerous position for any movie in today's love-me pop culture to place itself in. Under the Skin is exactly where it gets.
  4. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Apr 3, 2014
    A brave experiment in cinema that richly rewards the demands it makes. The result is an amazement, a film of beauty and shocking gravity.
  5. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Apr 18, 2014
    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.
  6. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Apr 3, 2014
    Much of this is fascinating, as far as it goes, but it wouldn't go as far as it does into drama were it not for Ms. Johansson's wonderfully strange performance.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Apr 2, 2014
    I certainly wish Ms. Johansson hadn’t shown up at all. She’s never less than interesting to watch, but Under the Skin is a big waste of her time.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 59 out of 109
  2. Negative: 34 out of 109
  1. Apr 19, 2014
    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 everyoneOh 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.
  2. Jul 4, 2014
    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.
  3. Jan 27, 2015
    The scene-to-scene change was almost TOO obtuse, so that it was close to confusing rather than cool and bizarro (suddenly the beach sceneThe scene-to-scene change was almost TOO obtuse, so that it was close to confusing rather than cool and bizarro (suddenly the beach scene appeared and who was who and was that person drowning?) but the movie was still fascinating and the ending was great - once I saw the ending, I started making sense of the rest of it.
    It is the kind of movie I think about long after I've watched it - a rarity these days! The music really added too it...my non-sci fi pal announced that she was falling asleep but stuck it out.
  4. Aug 18, 2014
    Enigmatic, slow, repetitive film, but at least offers a bit of a "surprise" at the end. Yet after watching the film I wondered if it was evenEnigmatic, slow, repetitive film, but at least offers a bit of a "surprise" at the end. Yet after watching the film I wondered if it was even worth trying to figure it out. Wish Johansson had saved the nude scenes for a better film. Anyway, what does it all mean? One possible clue, I think, lies in a very brief, but pointed mention of the upcoming Referendum for Scotland and the possibility of independence from England. When considering who the characters are and the plot, this wider political context made sense to me. So, for me the film is a parable about the shedding of a colonial power for national independence. Interesting how "woman" figures in such anti-colonial narratives. But your guess is as good as mine! Expand
  5. Aug 7, 2015
    I've never been so upset by the last 40 minutes of a film in my life. Compound that with the amount of people literally implying suchI've never been so upset by the last 40 minutes of a film in my life. Compound that with the amount of people literally implying such ridiculous notions as, "you probably just didn't understand everything going on in the film- that's why you didn't like it." No. No I understood what was going on, and it was fairly obvious by about an hour into the film. Up until that hour I was actually enjoying it, I saw it as a sort of abstract thought experiment film that tried to convey the mind of a female serial killer femme fatale- and my goodness realizing what this film WASN'T gonna be about was far more shocking by the time I ultimately reached the miserable ending. You wanna know what obvious imagery they put in this film for people pretentious enough to tell you its a film that involves multiple viewings? Ant on her hand, the ant is human beings! Fly on the glass trying to escape! So is she! This isn't obvious imagery at all! I'm a character that doesn't understand human beings so we'll set the film somewhere in Europe. How about some country where people have a really strong accent! That will make it even more obvious how "alien" Scarlett Johansson's character feels! Scotland? Perfect! Hey lets have a sequence where she completely disregards human life or their safety and totally mislead people in the audience to think, "wow she is totally a psychopath!" This film has disturbing imagery, a nightmarish soundtrack, is immensely suspenseful and all this is immediately ruined by the films sudden desire to commit plot suicide in one of the most contrived, silly, dumb, and poorly written endings that will literally have you wondering why you just waited nearly two hours on a film that ruined its own "twist" only an hour in. If it wasn't obvious from the beginning of the film its only more obvious as it goes on. Which is just abominable and quite frankly could've been pulled off so much better. I'm not accusing the film of being pretentious, but you can't combine a thriller with a Science-fiction twist with the kind of imagery and sequences in this film. It paints the wrong picture for the audience and its very disappointing to both crowds of those particular genres. You want to see Scarlett Johansson nude here and there? Than definitely watch it, however, if you want an E.T. meets Species kind of film you're going to probably want to turn this off, and pick out one or the other- you can't have both anyway- that would just be filthy. Expand
  6. Jul 20, 2014
    This is not a film but rather a collection of abstract scenes. The plot devices and attempts at narrative feel shoehorned and out of place.This is not a film but rather a collection of abstract scenes. The plot devices and attempts at narrative feel shoehorned and out of place. The characters are hollow, wooden, boring. Johanssen's performance seems absurd as she bounces between charismatic dialogue and robotic set-pieces. This is a disappointment. A film that seethes with potential but never delivers.

    - x
  7. Apr 8, 2016
    What is Good in This???,Why The ACCLAIM???,Is Because the FIRST NAKED SCARLETT MOVIE???.

    Nothing in this movie is Good Even the NAKED
    What is Good in This???,Why The ACCLAIM???,Is Because the FIRST NAKED SCARLETT MOVIE???.

    Nothing in this movie is Good Even the NAKED Scenes of Scarlett Johansson Could Be Better, Could be Better Filming, With Better Angles, Better Lighting, and FOCUS.


See all 109 User Reviews


Related Articles

  1. 21 Alien Invasion Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best

    21 Alien Invasion Movies, Ranked from Worst to Best Image
    Published: June 21, 2016
    We rank recent alien invasion movies by Metascore.
  2. The Best and Worst Movies of 2014

    The Best and Worst Movies of 2014 Image
    Published: January 6, 2015
    2014 saw the release of the highest-scoring new movie in Metacritic's history, among a number of great films. Browse our official lists of the year's best movies in a variety of categories, as well as our collection of 2014's worst films.
  3. Best of 2014: Film Critic Top Ten Lists

    Best of 2014: Film Critic Top Ten Lists Image
    Published: December 6, 2014
    Over the next month, we'll be collecting year-end top ten lists from dozens of movie critics and publications. Browse the individual lists and view our composite rankings inside.
  4. Film Friday: This Week's Movie News and New Trailers

    Film Friday: This Week's Movie News and New Trailers Image
    Published: February 14, 2014
    Watch new trailers for Nymphomaniac, Under the Skin, Tammy, Transcendence, The Double, The Purge: Anarchy, and much more, and get a quick recap of this week's movie news.