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Review: UNSKIN (2018)

Elcid Asaei has created a most unusual film. Unskin, which runs 15 minutes packs a lot of interesting visuals and unusual ideas into its running time. It also uses unconventional means of expressing them including mime and dance.

Roger Piper (Roger Carvalho, The Manson Family Massacre) is being interviewed for an unspecified job in finance. His interviewer (Stephen T Box) finds his resume rather unusual, especially the mention that he’s been off work for the past three years writing something called Unskin. He questions him about it. His answer forms the main part of the film.

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A strange Hooded Figure (also Carvalho) wanders through London. He seeks out “alienated and morally corrupt” individuals whom he eventually leads to an old warehouse. There they perform a dance that leads to some kind of transformation. Back at the interview, a familiar figure appears in the office as Roger leaves.

Much of Unskin is without dialogue. It’s told visually, using images backed by an impressive score from Hai Saint. The images are well chosen and there are many good shots through the film, Anton Smári Gunnarsson (Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead) breathes life into overused London backdrops.

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However, this is also where Unskin will be problematic for many people. Without dialogue to provide reference points, everything is left to interpretation. And with something like mime that’s usually an easy enough task. However, with something like dance the chances of viewers being confused rises greatly.

And that’s the feeling I got from Unskin. What I had seen certainly looked good but I was somewhat unsure of what it all meant. Depending on the shot, the figure can look benevolent or menacing. Was the result of the transformation positive for those involved? A bit of clarification would have helped.

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Interesting, but ultimately somewhat frustrating Unskin is still worth the 15 minutes to watch. You can check for showings on the film’s website and Facebook page.

Where to watch Unskin
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