CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.
Film Review: Horror Hits Home in Disturbing ‘In Their Skin’
CHICAGO – The set-up for the domestic horror of “In Their Skin” immediately brings to mind excellent thrillers like Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games,” David Moreau & Xavier Palud’s “Them,” and Bryan Bertino’s underrated “The Strangers.” There’s something inherently terrifying about being assaulted in a place you consider safe – your home. When home is no longer protected, what is? Sadly, Jeremy Power Regimbal’s intense drama doesn’t offer anything significant to a horror genre filled with superior choices. Regimbal does the best with what he’s given but it’s Joshua Close’s obvious script and a mediocre ensemble that fail to deliver.
A family – Mary (Selma Blair), Mark (Joshua Close), and Brendon (Quinn Lord) – head to an isolated retreat home after the death of their little girl. Racked with grief already, the trio is surprised to encounter another family – Bobby (James D’Arcy), Jane (Rachel Miner), and Jared (Alex Ferris) – allegedly in a home nearby bringing by spare wood for Mary & Mark. Where exactly are they staying again? How did they find them? What are they doing? Why are they visiting? Ask yourself all of these questions before you invite in strangers, even if they seem as nice as Bobby.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “In Their Skin” in our reviews section.|
Of course, nice Bobby becomes spaced-out, uncomfortable, weird Bobby shortly after entering the Hughes abode. He stares off into the distance. And his kid who claims to be nine looks old enough to drive. Mark starts to sense that something is wrong but we always tell ourselves that the nice-looking people at our door aren’t really total psychos, especially when they bring gifts and compliments. Although the way Bobby says “You’re a beautiful lady” to Mary would set off red flags in even the most trusting person.
Before you know it, Bobby doesn’t have any clothes on at the dinner table and things are getting even tenser as personal questions raise obtuse answers. These scenes of demented domesticity, when it becomes even clearer than Bobby & Jane are not mentally stable, are well-staged and directed by Regimbal, who smartly chooses not to cut very often, leaving us with the tension by putting us on one side of the table or the other as conversations turn from awkward to downright scary. Sadly, Hollywood conventions replace tension when Bobby gets his hands on a shotgun.
In Their Skin
Photo credit: IFC Films