Where The Skin Lies


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Where The Skin Lies
"A well-handled slice of classic horror." | Photo: Kim Ayers

It has been a year since the robbery. Anniversaries are often difficult, especially when there's been a death involved, but that's part of the point of the trip - this group of one-time strangers will spend that time together and perhaps finally get closure. The year they're spent in therapy together has probably helped, but emotional problems are still evident, and no amount of talking is going to help Jann (Simon Rivers), shot in the spine, to walk again without crippling pain. To be fair, Edward (Tristan Beint) has probably been rubbing people the wrong way all his life, and Rai (Amelia Bennett) has probably always been nervous, but one thing they've learned is how to cope with one another - or have they?

Their destination is a remote house in the Scottish lowlands. Of course it's not wheelchair accessible like the website said - a fact no disabled viewer will be surprised by. Mobile phones don't work there. The decor makes it look like somewhere Abba might go for their holidays (albeit with a bit less glitter), but it's not short on creepiness. And when the group discover that a mysterious force is preventing them from leaving, they have to contend with something else: all the emotional baggage and bitterness they took in there with them.

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Described by its producer as a "Lord Of The Flies type situation," Where The Skin Lies has an intriguing central gimmick involving tattoos but is essentially about civility breaking down when people are separated from the pressures and controls of wider society. In a different context, the sudden expressions of blame, feelings of guilt and resentment might have been exactly what the therapist ordered and given these people the chance to move past their trauma, but when there's nowhere to go, the result is very different. To add to the tension, it becomes clear that only the dominant members of the group have a real chance of escaping. But is escape possible at all? And is there something bigger going on here?

A well-handled slice of classic horror, this film is low on gore but features plenty of actions that will make you squirm. The ensemble cast is well balanced with nobody trying to steal the show, and you're likely to find your sympathies shifting around as the story develops. Director Michael Boucherie, shooting in a real house, manages to do a surprising amount with perspective despite the confined spaces that limit camera movement and lighting options. Playful use of genre clich├ęs provides humour to balance the horror in a film that doesn't hide behind camp but never makes the mistake of taking itself too seriously.

All in all, this is a solid feature debut that should have some staying power among fans.

Reviewed on: 31 Aug 2017
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Six people bound together by a traumatic experience travel to the Scottish Lowlands for a relaxing reunion weekend. Soon a number of mysterious and horrifying events start to expose the cracks in their relationships.

Director: Michaël Boucherie

Writer: Michael Boucherie, David Boucherie, Nigel Gearing, Keith Temple

Starring: Tristan Beint, Amelia Bennett, Simon Rivers, Louise Williams, Georgia Winters, Nathan Wright

Year: 2017

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: UK


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