Toronto After Dark Film Fest: In Their Skin

Director: Jeremy Power Regimbal
Principal Cast: Selma Blair, Joshua Close, James D'Arcy, and Rachel Miner

For my money there is nothing scarier than the idea of home invasion. If you're attacked where you hope to feel most at ease that has to shatter your sense of safety forever.

In Their Skin starts with Mark and Mary Hughes retreating to their summer home along with their young son to grieve and rebuild their lives after the recent death of their daughter. Already emotionally raw and with their defenses down as they deal with the internal strife, whatever peace they hope to find is quickly shattered. Early one morning they meet the “neighbours” Bobby, Jane and their young son Jared who have come by to drop off a welcome present and then quickly invite themselves over for dinner. As can be expected dinner does not go well and after a hasty exit they return to show their true motivation.

In a film like this the motivation for the attackers is always interesting and often it is just boiled down to, these people are crazy and just want to hurt others. The truly original part of this film is the motivation for this “family” to attack another. The title gives a bit of this away in that the attackers have invaded this family’s life to learn about them and take over their lives after they kill them. The filmmakers use the backdrop of economic hardship and families just trying to get by as the setting of this film as one family is coveting what another one has. The filmmakers do realize this is supposed to be a scary film and not a political or class commentary so it stays in the background, but just having it there gives depth.

A film like this truly engages with an audience and afterwards I heard everyone discussing what they would have done differently in the same situation. The common consensus was that they would not be victimized in this way as they would have fought and any attacker would never have stood a chance. They would rather die than be played with by a sadist. This is a much stronger reaction than what most horror films get since being attacked by supernatural beings or monsters doesn't connect with people on such a visceral level. In Their Skin's firm basis in reality and with the real possibility that it could happen to anyone, viewers need to think they would be different.

In Their Skin at Toronto After Dark Film Fest

Written by Jason Poynton

Jason works on his feet all day, so when he gets some downtime his greatest joy is to settle in at a movie theatre and see a couple movies back-to-back, or in the the case of film festival season race around the city and see four or five in a day. Of course after the movies it’s time to eat and drink and talk it out with some friends.

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