In the chilling science-fiction thriller Under The Skin, The Avengers‘ Scarlett Johansson plays a black widow of another kind. She’s an extraterrestrial predator. With a camouflage of plump red lips, snug fitting acid washed jeans, a curvy figure and a battered van, she trolls the streets of Scotland looking for would-be lovers. But when she lures them back to her lair, these men discover they are just fresh meat in the literal sense. On its surface, this feature is a slick and sick bit of horror. But under the skin it is a lesson in rape culture targeted specifically at men.
The gender dynamics of horror typically play out with killers being male and their victims being female. Under The Skin turns the tables on this traditional setup, and with it creates a reverse of contemporary rape culture where violence against women is so common that women are casually warned to be ever alert for those who might harm them. In rape culture, the blame for what might befall women is thereby put on their shoulders in place of their potential rapist. By and large men don’t worry about their safety in the same way when walking home late at night. But in the world of Under The Skin, they absolutely should.
As this review explores specific themes of the movie, heavy spoilers for Under The Skin lurk below: