November 2, 2012

Filthy Review - 'In Their Skin'

In Their Skin (2012)

Review by Jude Felton

The reason home invasion movies work so effectively, is that that play right into our very deepest fears; the fear of being attacked in the one place you should feel safe. Of course, this only works in films that use this fear and tension correctly. I mean, Home Alone was for all intents and purposes a home invasion flick, but it is not exactly scary is it?

This brings me to Jeremy Power Regimbal’s In Their Skin, a film that first came to my attention under its previous title of Replicas. Now, I personally didn’t like the change to the present moniker, but the more I thought about it, the more I like the new name. Replicas does, after all, have a bit of a Sci-Fi feel to it, and I can’t help thinking of Rutger Hauer in Blade Runner. Also, In Their Skin does actually make a lot more sense when it comes to the film, especially after you watch it.

The film focuses on Mark and Mary, a couple who, along with their son Brendon, head out to their vacation home for a short break. They arrive before the season is in full swing and use this to their advantage for some peace and quiet, especially after recent tragic events in their family.

The morning after they arrive, they are woken up by a knocking at the door, only to discover that it is a family, Bobby, Jane and Jared, from down the road; or so they say. You can tell straight away that they are a strange, and it isn’t too long before their motives become clear in this very effective and surprisingly tense movie.

Director, Regimbal has taken a tried and tested sub-genre, in the home invasion movie, and along with an excellent script from Joshua Close, crafted a really good movie. There are so many different strands of the story at play, such as Mark and Mary’s own relationship, on top of the main plotline, that the film slowly draws you into its dark web. The film itself, and plot, is very upfront about what is happening; there isn’t a group of masked hoodlums running around knocking on doors etc. Instead, we meet Bobby and his family right away, and it is from here on in that things become very uncomfortable. Bobby’s continual prying for information via some very inappropriate questions only hint at what is to come.


In fact, In Their Skin reminded me a lot of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. There are similar themes in both films, aside from the obvious, although I can honestly say that In Their Skin made me feel more uncomfortable whilst watching it.

The structure of the film seemed very deliberate; it has a very subdued pace to it, and some people might find it a little on the slow side. Personally, I thought this approach worked exceptionally well. Sure, there are familiar scenarios within In Their Skin that have been seen in other films, yet there is still a freshness about the events that will keep you guessing, as you won’t know what is coming next.

In Their Skin isn’t overly violent, although the threat is almost constant, and when the film does let loose the scenes have a lot more impact. Rather than rely on overt violence though, the weight of the film is more to do with making you feel uncomfortable, asking you questions as you watch the events unfold, and for me that is just as effective, if not more so, than just taking the graphic approach.


Part of the success of the movie is down to the direction and script, of course, but as well as those there is also a great cast here. Joshua Close and Selma Blair, as Mark and Mary, are both superb, but it is James D’Arcy as Booby who steals the show for me. His character is edgy and unpredictable, and even his most innocent actions have an uncomfortable feel to them.

Overall I would not hesitate in recommending In Their Skin to anyone who likes a good home invasion movie, or indeed anyone who likes a finely crafted, dark and oppressive movie. I will certainly be keeping my eyes open for what Regimbal has lined up for us next.

In Their Skin is currently available on IFC Midnight VOD and Digital, and opens in theaters on November 9th.

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