Wednesday, 18 December 2013

In Their Skin - film review

In Their Skin is a film from last year, a creepy thriller that plays on our fears about having our home territory invaded. After a mysterious shooting in the open scene, a married couple with an eight year old son drive to an upmarket holiday home in the middle of nowhere. All is not well between Mark (Josh Close) and Mary (Selma Blair) but we don't fully understand why at first.

They are woken early by neighbours, a family of three whose behaviour is odd from the outset. At this point, I'd have been running for cover, but Mark invites Bobby (James D'Arcy) and Jane (Rachel Milner) and their son for a meal. Big mistake, needless to say. Things remain enigmatic for a while, but when the visiting boy pulls a knife on his young playmate, prompting Mark to ask his visitors to leave, mayhem ensues.

The second part of the film is conventional for the most part, with one or two unexpected sequences, as things go from bad to worse as far as Mark and Mary are concerned. Bobby is crazy, of course, and Jane is not as nice as she seems. Of course, there is an air of predictability about films which follow this pattern, but on the whole I felt that tension was maintained very well, and Selma Blair in particular is very good.

The script attempts to add a layer of meaning, in effect by pitting a bunch of weird people against a family which seems to have everything but really is far from perfect. I didn't think this aspect of the film worked too well, partly because we didn't care enough (or know enough) about the characters' lives and partly because it takes exceptional writing to turn a thriller like this into something deep and meaningful. In Their Skin is best regarded as entertainment, pure and simple, and if you like this sort of thing, it passes the time very well.

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