The scares are scarce in In Their Skin
Starring Selma Blair, James D’Arcy, and Joshua Close. Rated 18A.
People who have seen a lot of movies should know by now that it’s not safe to sleep in the woods. Or to visit large cities. Or to live in the suburbs. (Remember Blue Velvet?) On the other hand, an isolated country home is an excellent—read inexpensive—place to shoot a playlike script with talented actors.
Selma Blair and Joshua Close (the latter wrote the intermittently thoughtful script) play Mary and Mark Hughes, urban professionals struggling with the loss of a young child, with their preteen son, Brendon (Quinn Lord), in sulky tow. With imaginative director Jeremy Power Regimbal in charge, things are extra creepy—in a colour-bleached, dark-music-video way—even before the three arrive at their cottage retreat in an unnamed but very dour forest. Then stuff gets weirder with the sudden appearance of another family that seems to be a down-market version of themselves.
When neighbours Bobby (James D’Arcy), Jane (Rachel Miner), and Jared (Alex Ferris) bring firewood, they prove exceedingly hard to get rid of. And when they wangle a dinner invite, the six have a tense standoff in the fancy digs, with Mary’s ever-present red wine an ominous portent of things to come. Frankly, the Hughes’s hideous French-provincial furniture was enough to piss me off, even if it only produced envy in Bobby’s wacky clan.
In Their Skin aspires to be a Funny Games–like cut above your average home-invasion thriller, and the cast is uniformly good at acting out the class conflict. Unfortunately, the screenplay is neither profound enough nor sufficiently scary to fully satisfy on both those levels, and it ends up being just another exercise in what not to do on your winter vacation.
Watch the trailer for In Their Skin.