By David Dent
This 2018 movie started off life as ‘Fading Flowers’ and to be honest neither title is really illustrative of this very odd US indie.
Mum and daughter Sophie (Helen Udy, ‘My Bloody Valentine’) and Roselee (Angela Banjaras) escape to a lakeside cabin in Oregon to have some bonding time. They’ve both had men problems recently and just want to be girls for a while, swimming during the day and drinking shots all night. But Sophie’s cracks start to show early on: she’s on medication, has hallucinations and periods where she zones out.
Two couples threaten their idyllic holiday: brother and sister team – although they’re a little too close for it to be legal – Matt (Tim O’Hearn) and Carla (Donna Hamblin), who fancy playing ‘surprise visit’ to the ladies’ cabin for some action; and law enforcers Sherriff Roy Keeps (Carl Bailey) and Ranger Jenny Ross (Pamela Sutch) who are keen to talk to Sophie and Roselee about some noise disturbances reported at the rental.
Mum and daughter continue to stay on at the cabin, but things seem to be falling apart. Sophie’s memory lapses and flickering visions seem worse, and even Roselee hears things. And as the police return to the house to question Sophie again, the truth about what’s really going on gradually pieces itself together.
Films are very often called ‘Lynchian’ if they’re full of temporal and visual quirks. ‘Evil Under the Skin’ could also be categorised as a movie that pulls off some Lynch tricks – dream sequences that might be flashbacks, characters acting in bizarre ways, a sense of the homely contrasting with something dangerous – but these moments occur in a film comprising a group of actors who chew the scenery with impunity. I couldn’t work out if this was deliberate or not. Don’t get me wrong, it all sort of works, but the whole film feels rather unhinged, a bit like a nightmare of watching actors having to play roles without having prepared for them. Banjaras spends a lot of the time naked (“Nobody cares about boobies – we’re in Oregon,” she reasons) for no apparent reason; it’s not exploitative, it’s just weird. And Udy’s meltdowns are like something out of a badly directed Tennessee Williams play.
‘Evil Under the Skin’ is blessed with a suitably dark ending, but along the way, it’s every kind of bonkers. I actually quite liked it.
Watch the trailer for Evil Under the Skin below –