Jonathan Glazer is a visually dynamic director with a short filmography. He has only made two movies in the last 13 years, with his third arriving almost 10 years after his second. His last film — Birth, starring Nicole Kidman — was released in 2004, a strange horror film that is completely unsettling. Next up for Glazer is Under the Skin, which stars Scarlett Johansson and dives deep into the science fiction genre. Under the Skin‘s first teaser trailer has arrived, and it has the unnerving tone that Glazer is known for delivering.
I’ve watched this trailer a few times, and I’m not sure what the hell is going on here. Under the Skin is the film adaptation of Dutch author Michel Faber’s critically acclaimed sci-fi novel. It follows Isserley (Scarlett Johansson), an extraterrestrial who is sent to Earth to pick up careless hitchhikers in Northern Scotland. Once she seduces and drugs them, Isserley fattens and mutilates her victims to turn them into meat — which is a delicacy on her dystopian home planet — for an evil alien corporation.
Did you get any of that from the above teaser trailer? It just looks like Scarlett Johansson is lost somewhere in the country, meeting different men in the early 1980s. You really don’t get that she’s an alien, but there is a very sinister look and feel to Under the Skin that is completely disturbing.
An image of Scarlett Johansson was also released from Under the Skin, and it showcases two things: ScarJo’s beauty and Jonathan Glazer’s knack for inventive framing and creative staging. There’s no doubt that Isserley is stalking her next prey!
Under the Skin is a dark social satire that skewers big business and intensive farming. It also reaches into themes of sexual identity, humanity, and mercy. The Under the Skin novel was on the prestigious Whitbread Awards shortlist for Best First Novel in the year 2000.
The constant sounds of the howling wind leaves you unbalanced as you watch the new teaser. Glazer is really good at creating textures and tone in his films. Under the Skin appears to have the same strangeness about it as the film Birth, which could be off-putting for casual movie-goers. But for people who love high-minded science fiction or art-house movies, it looks like Under the Skin might be something worth watching.
While there is no official release date yet, Under the Skin made its world premiere at the 70th Venice Film Festival a few days ago. Glazer’s film is getting fantastic early reviews from film critics, with comparisons to Nicolas Roeg’s 1976 sci-fi film The Man Who Fell to Earth. That film starred David Bowie as Thomas Jerome Newton, an alien who crashes on Earth. With no way to return to his family or home planet, Newton uses his alien technology to become a millionaire. It’s an odd sci-fi film that offers more in visuals and tone than story or narrative.
Under the Skin is set to screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival at the end of the month. Check out Jonathan Glazer’s music video for Radiohead’s “Karma Police” and Jamiroquai’s “Virtual Insanity” below.