×

In Their Skin

An unnerving home-invasion thriller, "In Their Skin" achieves full creepy impact without succumbing to cheap genre thrills or cool arthouse abstraction.

With:
With: Selma Blair, Josh Close, Rachel Miner, James D'Arcy, Quinn Lord, Alex Ferris, Matt Bellefleur, Terence Kelly.

An unnerving home-invasion thriller, “In Their Skin” has narrative bones we’ve certainly seen before, bearing perhaps the closest resemblance to Michael Haneke’s two versions of “Funny Games.” Nonetheless, the same simple premise achieves full creepy impact here without succumbing to cheap genre thrills or cool arthouse abstraction. While Jeremy Power Regimbal’s assured directorial debut is unlikely to make a big splash theatrically, the recently retitled pic, which toured festivals earlier this year as “Replicas,” should attract enough favorable notice to do well in home-format sales in various markets.

A brief prologue shows the Hughes family in crisis, sitting in a hospital corridor awaiting the bad news about its youngest member. Six months later, mom Mary (Selma Blair) remains sunk in the depression triggered by her daughter’s accidental death, while dad Mark (Josh Close, who scripted) has responded by burying himself in work. Their marriage is on thin ice, so together with their resilient 8-year-old son, Brendon (Quinn Lord), they get a head start on the usual summer season, heading to their longtime woodland vacation home for some rest, relaxation and self-repair.

Very early the next morning, however, their rest is interrupted by intruders in their backyard — new neighbors, or so the “Zachowskis” claim. Pushy Bobby (James D’Arcy) and his weirdly childlike spouse, Jane (Rachel Miner), have a son, Jared (Alex Ferris), who’s supposedly Brendon’s age, though he looks several years older. They’ve made the odd decision to welcome the Hugheses with a gift of firewood, an awkward first meeting that ends with the Zachowskis essentially inviting themselves over again that afternoon.

All goes well enough at first, though the guests ask too many questions of their hosts in a curiously covetous way that Mary, for one, soon finds inappropriate and invasive. Tensions rapidly escalate when the two boys run tearfully downstairs from a confrontation in Brendon’s bedroom, each tattling a different tale, though it’s Brendon who bears physical evidence of attack. The evening ends on an abrupt note as the Zachowskis are thrown out — but they won’t wait until morning to pay their neighbors another, much more bluntly threatening visit.

What rapidly turns into a hostage situation is lent an extra chill by the suggestion that the intruders have done this before, and indeed might serially target enviable families to assume their property and identities; it’s pointed out that Mary and Mark are in prime yuppie professions (real-estate developer and lawyer, respectively). While “In Their Skin” has no overt political agenda, it’s worth noting how these elements and the overall psychological suspense echo current paranoid conservative fantasies of the have-nots forcibly seizing from the haves, simply because they resent and covet it.

Close’s judicious script provides for a long, ominous buildup that Regimbal milks with crafty restraint. When things go from uncomfortable to far worse, the pic still refrains from horror/action hyperbole, emphasizing the emotions of the entrapped over violence, despite a fair amount of mayhem.

Strong perfs all around are supported by the pic’s formal precision in other departments, with a chilly, wintry look to Norm Li’s lensing, subtly effective design contributions and sparse use of Keith Power’s original score.

In Their Skin

Canada

Production: An IFC Films (in U.S.) release of a Kinosmith presentation in association with G6 Prods., Telefilm Canada, Movie Central and the Movie Network of a TSM Entertainment and Sepia Films production. Produced by Justin Tyler Close. Executive producers, Tina Pehme, Kim C. Roberts. Directed by Jeremy Power Regimbal. Screenplay, Josh Close, from a story by Close, Justin Tyler Close, Regimbal.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Norm Li; editor, Austin Andrews; production designer, Tink; music, Keith Power; art director, Aja Rowley; set decorator, La Vonne Girard; costume designer, Kathi Moore; sound, Bernardo Six Costa; sound designers, Bill Mellow, Kirby Jinnah; re-recording mixers, Paul Sharpe, Graeme Hughes, Joe Watts; assistant director, Shamess Shute; casting, Heidi Levitt, Lisa Essary, Laura Toplass. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Nov. 2, 2012. (In Toronto After Dark, Chicago, Fantasia, Tribeca film festivals.) Running time: 98 MIN.

With: With: Selma Blair, Josh Close, Rachel Miner, James D'Arcy, Quinn Lord, Alex Ferris, Matt Bellefleur, Terence Kelly.

More Film

  • The Lion King Box Office

    Box Office: 'The Lion King' Rules With $185 Million Debut

    Simba and Mufasa reigned supreme this weekend as Disney’s “The Lion King” dominated box office charts. Director Jon Favreau’s remake of the animated classic collected a massive $185 million from 4,756 North American theaters during its first three day of release. The movie landed the best domestic launch for a PG film and set a [...]

  • Creative-Producers-Indaba-Cover-Image-1920x1080-px-2

    Realness, EAVE, IFFR, Sundance Launch African Producers Network

    DURBAN–South Africa’s Realness Institute, EAVE, the Intl. Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Sundance Institute are joining forces to create the Creative Producers Indaba, a professional training program designed to support emerging African producers. Inspired by initiatives such as the EAVE Producers Workshop and Sundance’s Creative Producing, the program will bring together 15 participants to develop [...]

  • BOTM-Eve-Viper-Gang

    Director Angus Gibson: My Audience is ‘Young, Black South Africans’

    DURBAN–Sophiatown, 1958. On the outskirts of Johannesburg, as the apartheid police prepare to demolish the community at the heart of black South African cultural and intellectual life, a notorious gang leader is determined to make a last stand. Resisting the forced evictions that will transport the residents of Sophiatown to a desolate township miles away, [...]

  • marvel

    Marvel Phase 4 Plan Revealed, But Comic-Con’s Big Winner is Disney Plus

    In a triumphant return to the San Diego Comic-Con main stage, leadership at Marvel Studios managed some splashy surprises and showed off risky creative bets for the next two years of content coming from the superhero operation. But the biggest takeaway from the Saturday presentation inside Hall H was how important Marvel will make Disney [...]

  • Florence Pugh, O. T. Fagbenle, Rachel

    'Black Widow': Scarlett Johansson and Florence Pugh Go Head-to-Head in First Footage

    Marvel’s “Black Widow” has only been in production for a month, but studio president Kevin Feige still delivered the goods for fans at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Filmmakers brought an intense sizzle reel of on-location shots, kicked off by a dazzling and bone-crushing fight sequence between lead Scarlett Johansson and her on-screen sister Florence [...]

  • Natalie Portman Thor

    Natalie Portman Returns for 'Thor: Love and Thunder' as Female Thor

    Natalie Portman is coming back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she’s no one’s love interest this time around. The Oscar winner will play a female god of thunder in the fourth film from the Chris Hemsworth series, titled “Thor: Love and Thunder.” Portman hit the stage at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday to great [...]

  • Fantastic Four

    New 'Fantastic Four' Movie in Development at Marvel

    Marvel is going back to the Fantastic Four. Marvel Studios chief Kevin Feige announced that a new movie based on the superhero group is in the works at San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. Further details, however, including a release date, were not revealed. It marks the first Fox property for Disney to mine since the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content