Blu Reviewed: Under The Skin

Andrew reviews the technical aspects of this week's blu ray release of Under The Skin.

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Under The Skin

Today the year’s most polarizing art house film Under the Skin hits Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Entertainment. After the film’s theatrical distributor A24 announced the title would only be released on DVD, a public outcry exploded and thus reversed the decision.  Since the film has been reviewed more than once by yours truly on the site, this little review will focus more on the technical aspects and special features of this Blu-ray disc.

In terms of picture quality, Under the Skin presents a unique challenge to viewers accustomed to eye popping images. Though exhibiting a clean and sterile image akin to the theatrical release, people seem to forget just how dimly lit the film is.  This is a film that will likely have HDTV owners fidgeting with the settings to increase the brightness and contrast levels.  That said, the Blu-ray represents a faithful visual presentation and maintains the low light levels and monochromatic color scheme of the film’s brooding cinematography.

On a level of audio, Under the Skin gets a DTS-HD 5.1 surround soundtrack that is absolutely demo-worthy for cinephiles wanting to show off their home theater to friends. Much like Lynch’s Eraserhead with the unsettling strings of Paul Thomas Anderson’s There Will Be Blood, the film is a noisy wind tunnel with occasional sharp, hollow sounds and eerie, unearthly strings permeating the echo chamber.  Dialogue, much like in theaters, is presented at low levels and audio at times is compromised due to the guerilla filmmaking tactics utilized to record the conversations between Scarlett Johansson and Scottish passerby.  Overall, fans will be pleased with the sonic range of the DTS-HD track.  Be sure to turn the volume up loud!

As for extras, Under the Skin features a wealth of making-of featurettes which don’t so much explain the film as it tries to break down individual cinematic elements going into the production.  Unlike the DVD for Birth which included only a trailer, Under the Skin, for an enigmatic film, contains a surprising amount of hands on material shedding light on some of the ideas Glazer had in mind.  Could there have been an audio commentary?  Perhaps, but that would defeat Glazer’s intention of creating a puzzle for the audience to solve.  For those hoping the extras would spell out the vague and unclear areas of the film for them, I’m afraid the filmmakers took great care in not revealing too much information that would spoil the individual experience each viewer has when dealing with Under the Skin.

-Andrew Kotwicki