Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Underrated Sci-Fi Horror Movie You Need To Watch Before It Leaves Netflix This Week

When it comes to horror, the 2010s are often thought of as the decade of James Wan. His Insidious and The Conjuring franchises launched a haunted house-jump scare-a-palooza in mainstream horror.

There's another horror trend in the 2010s that's equally important, however, and that's art-house horror. Art-house horror movies get a lot of critical attention because of their striking visuals and a clear desire to say something. Movies that fall under this category are films like The Witch, It Follows, The Babadook, and so on and so forth.

As the 2010s ended, there naturally emerged a lot of "best of" lists naming the cream of the horrific crop. All the films above, for the most part, were named, but there's one movie that with shocking frequency was near, or atop, many lists: 2014's Under the Skin. Under the Skin is leaving Netflix on July 11, 2020, so this may be your last chance to see it without buying it for a little while ... and you absolutely should.

Scarlett Johansson plays a different kind of black widow in Under the Skin

By 2013, Under the Skin starĀ Scarlett Johansson, already had mainstream success. Most notably, she'd recently played Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow in two Marvel movies. In Under the Skin, Johansson plays a very different kind of black widow.

Explaining Under the Skin is not easy, but essentially, Johansson plays one of two aliens, The Female (Scarlett Johansson) and The Bad Man (Jeremy McWilliams), who have come to Earth to feed on humanity. The Female lures men back to her home and strips down naked, and as the men do the same, they are swallowed up by the inky, black ground below them. Once they're submerged, the men are slowly disintegrated before popping like balloons. The imagery of the deaths in Under the Skin is absolutely horrifying.

What makes Under the Skin great, though, is more than its unsettling imagery; it's the way The Female's perspective changes over time. At first, she's a cold-blooded killer. With each passing man she ensnares, however, The Female begins to see them less as prey and more as people. In turn, she begins to connect with the fake human skin she is wearing and begins to question what it means to be in this human, female form.

Scarlett Johansson and the men who weren't acting in Under the Skin

One of the most interesting parts of Under the Skin is the way in which Johansson's fame plays into the narrative, andĀ into The Female's hunting. The Female spends a chunk of the film driving around in an unmarked van, trying to pick up men.

What makes the hunting scenes so visceral is that, unlike the rest of Under the Skin, they are largely unscripted. Scarlett Johansson, in full costume, just drove around picking up men who weren't actors. In many cases, the men kind of recognized Johansson, which creates this awkward element Under the Skin simply could not have created with hired talent.

Even in the early 2000s, Johansson was hyper-sexualized in the media. Under the Skin is, among many other things, a kind of psycho-sexual response to being objectified. In Under the Skin, it's Johansson's The Female who is, at least at first, using men as objects, to the point of their deaths.

Under the Skin is a science fiction examination of socialized gender and sexuality. It's weird and scary and there's never been another movie quite like it, so it's definitely worth a look while it's available. Under the Skin leaves Netflix on July 11, 2020.